Rocking is pleasant for a baby, but it is more for the sanity of the parent. By rocking back and forth, the frantic parent is actually calming herself while chanting, “I WILL get some sleep, I WILL get some sleep…”
Most parents instinctively rock their infants, but each baby responds differently to various types of rocking. Sometimes you even need to vary the rocking techniques during the same session.
1. The Time Warp: A woman once told me she had rocked her baby so hard that the rocking chair flipped over backwards. While mother and baby survived without injury, I do not recommend this dangerous form of The Time Warp rocking method. This technique is best performed on a couch, but you can also use a rocking chair if you are careful.
The Time Warp works well for an infant who is crying frantically out of control. Sit at an angle with your back to the corner of the couch, and place a large pillow for a buffer behind your back. Rock vigorously back and forth while being careful to hold your baby close to you and support his neck with your arm. Put his head against your chest so he can hear your heartbeat. After a few minutes, this should calm the baby down enough to move to a less vigorous technique.
2. The Gelatin Jiggle: Once a baby is only mildly fussy, he can be lulled to sleep by this technique. Either standing or sitting, hold your baby close to you with his head against your chest so he can hear your heartbeat. Rest his bottom on one arm and gently jiggle him up and down. This movement should be very light; never shake your baby! Move on to The Rocking Boat once he seems to be falling asleep.
3. The Rocking Boat: The Gelatin Jiggle is an up and down motion, but The Rocking Boat gently sways back and forth. If you have been standing, you may as well sit down and be comfortable for this stage. Still holding your baby to your chest, GENTLY sway your upper body back and forth to rock your baby to sleep. Since the baby will be nodding off to sleep, this is a perfect opportunity to relax with a book, movie, or TV show. If you use this technique often enough, you may catch yourself rocking back and forth while reading, even though you’re not holding a baby!
4. The Speed Skater: This technique is similar to The Rocking Boat, except you STAND UP and gently rock from side to side. You will be doing side leg lunges, much like a speed skater. While this move can zap your energy at night, it is perfect during the day for firming up those post-partum thighs.
5. The Long Distance: Whenever you are on the phone, hold your baby in one arm and the phone in the other arm. As you are talking, pace back and forth across the room. After about twenty minutes, your baby may be sound asleep. You won’t know if this was from the monotony of the pacing or your conversation. Unfortunately, you cannot start calling your friends at 3:00 a.m. just to get your baby to sleep, or you might not have any friends left to call!
You did it! After hours of rocking, pacing, and shushing, you finally managed to get your baby to sleep. Carefully tiptoeing down the hallway and side-stepping the obstacle course of squeaky toys, you quickly deposit your precious bundle into his crib. Exhausted, you climb into bed and sink your head into the pillow. Suddenly, you hear, “Waaaaaaaah” No! It can’t be! Time to start all over again…
By using the Direct Deposit technique, you can avoid this ugly scenario. As tempting as it may be to immediately return a sleeping baby to his crib, you need to wait at least ten minutes. In your haste to return to dreamland, this may seem like an eternity. Believe me, ten minutes is nothing compared to how long it may take you to get your baby back to sleep again! Your baby needs at least ten minutes to fall into a deep enough sleep to make a smooth transition back to the crib.
The sudden drop from being up high in your arms to being lowered to the crib can seem like a roller coaster to your baby. To make sure that he sleeps through the transition, keep your baby close to your chest as you bend over, only “depositing” him when he is an inch away from the mattress. In other words, YOU do the “falling,” not your baby. And by now you’re so tired, you should have no problem falling.