My mom is a music therapist by trade, and although she rarely worked in her field professionally as I was growing up, her specialty training was a common influence in my daily life. Whether it was a sing-song improv that told us it was time to clean up our toys, a musical rhyme to learn the days of the week, or a therapeutic outlet when the adolescent hormones raged, music improved everything.
I suppose this is where my husband and I came up with our ‘Secret Weapon’ – the ultimate fail-safe solution when nothing else will work – a soothing song. I’m sure you’ve heard of ‘soothers’; items like blankets, pacifiers, stuffed animals and white noise to lure babies to sleep. We utilize many of these things in our sleep training with our kids and they all serve their intended purpose. What we stumbled upon with our first baby, however, turned out to be the cipher to the baby code, so to speak: a soothing song. I’m still not sure how it happened, but one day we noticed that when we played a certain song to our very unhappy, very verbal 1-month-old, the crying stopped instantly! She would be in a full-fledged screaming campaign and when the magic music hit her ears her little body calmed down like she’d just ingested a double-dosage of Benadryl. We tested and re-tested over the next couple weeks and sure enough, every single time we played the song she calmed down. Unfortunately for us, however, the song she ‘chose’ was a tone-deaf’s attempt at a movie soundtrack ballad and was nearly as agonizing to go to sleep to as her hysteria. Needless to say, when Baby #2 came around, we were much more intentional.
Before he was born I compiled a playlist of ‘acceptable’ songs that we both agreed we could handle serving as the soundtrack to the next several months of our lives. Then, for the first week or so at least twice a day I would sit and rock him, sometimes while feeding and sometimes just cuddling, and we would listen to the playlist. The five or six songs were all similar in tempo and most were by the same artist. Anyone else probably wouldn’t have noticed a huge difference between the individual tracks, but by some mystery, little Mr. Man chose a favorite.
I discovered this when he was about 10 days old and I was desperate for an easy fix. I turned on the playlist and started skipping through the songs one by one, when suddenly we came to the magic number, and as if by divine intervention, the screaming stopped! The next time he got fussy I did the same thing, thinking it may have been a fluke and wanting to be sure we had a genuine soothing song on our hands. Sure enough, it worked, and then it worked again, and again. And it hasn’t stopped! Just last night I turned it on as I laid him in his crib, and just like chamomile tea and a warm bed, it soothed him right to sleep!
Knowing the struggles most parents go through getting their babies to calm down once they’ve gotten upset, the ‘soothing song’ is really quite the revelation. I know we certainly had our trials with Baby #1 – she was not a fan of her carseat, or her crip, or her bouncy seat – really, the only place she loved to be was in our arms. Although her soothing song didn’t solve every problem we faced, it certainly improved every predicament we found ourselves in. I remember showing the technique off to our family, allowing her to cry, then playing the song and watching her stop on a dime… then turning the song off only to result in her screaming again. Cruel, I know, but it was a very effective illustration!
With the evolution of the cellphone it is now not only possible, but ridiculously convenient to take music with you wherever you go. It’s a very common occurrence to find myself with a crying baby in the grocery store, in the car or at church. Instead of succumbing to the endless fussing, however, I have an easy fix. Yes, you may occasionally get strange looks from the other Walmart shoppers as you walk threw the freezer isle with worship music coming from your carseat, but believe me, it’s better then getting nasty looks because your kid is hysterical!
Now here comes the disclaimer: No two babies are alike. What has worked for my kiddos may not work for yours, but there’s certainly no harm in trying! What are some things you do to keep the tears at bay? What are your favorite tricks and tips for dealing with fussy newborns? We all have had that eureka! moment at one point or another when you’ve tried everything imaginable before stumbling upon the proverbial Midas treasure of parenting. Leave a comment and let me know! We would love to hear from you.
Want more helpful tips? See So Your Having a Baby… 5 Must-Do’s in the first 7 Days