Imagine your plane touching down in a new country, and you alighting in the middle of a searing desert, or a stifling rain forest, or perhaps somewhere in the arctic. You will need to adjust to a different temperature, face the glare of the sun, hear strange loud sounds, see strange new people and animals and experience different smells. Your body can feel invigorated and excited, if you enjoy that kind of thing – or you can be very unsure and cautious, perhaps even terrified. Each person is different – you and your partner would feel differently in this situation. You would be in different STATES, and at different times.
Considering how you would feel helps parents appreciate their baby’s perspective, the huge transition from womb to world. It makes parents aware of all the sensations the baby may be experiencing and then helps them think of ways to help and support the baby. As a parent it is your role to read your baby’s cues and respond appropriately to their needs.
‘How do I do that though when I know nothing about them?’ I hear you ask.
A baby can communicate through their behavioural state. If you learn this, then you can be guided by what the best solution will be for your baby.
Some babies are very quick to wake up and become alert quickly – and so start crying almost before they wake up, others are slow to wake and can need a lot of movement and time to fully awake. There is no right or wrong way, but this will help you know when it is best to feed, cuddle and talk to your baby. It is recognised that a newborn baby has 6 states of alertness (Dr T.B Brazelton) and this changes repeatedly throughout the day – like a rollercoaster.
1. Deep sleep -breathing deeply and regularly, eyes closed and only occasional movement.
2. Active (light) sleep- breathing is shallow and eyes are closed but moving. Facial movements.
3. Drowsy state- regular and shallow breathing. Eyes open and close. Can become more responsive.
4. Awake, alert state- Eyes open and awake, reacts to sights and sounds. A good time to play!
5. Alert but fussy state- Eyes are open, movements are jerky, shows the need for something to change, can be brought back to awake and alert state with distraction.
6. Crying- exhales for long periods, loud intake of breath and quickly starts again. Wants instant attention and causes parents most concern.
All babies have different cries. Through their crying they communicate different messages such as boredom, discomfort, hunger, tiredness, pain.
Feeding is best achieved in the awake, alert state or drowsy state although if a baby is really hungry, they will be in a crying state and settle immediately when fed. That is the best example of changing state affecting your baby!
Contact me if you would like to know more about understanding your baby and how you can learn to understand them better.
Professional Genie Tricks (Progenitrix)
1. Talk to a friend or partner about how it would make you feel landing in a foreign country. Really think about how it is for your baby arriving here with you.
2. Think about you and your partner in the mornings – I jump out of bed eager for the day, my partner takes an age to get out of bed and needs a cup of tea to really get going!! What is your baby’s state of preference?
3. Think about what changes your baby’s state. Does swaddling move them from a state of alert but fussy, to a state of alert and awake; or do they become drowsy and fall asleep?
4. Trial different distractions when they are fussy, does waving a toy at them give them something to think about?
5. Have a checklist in your head for when they are crying – are they hungry, in pain, wet, cold or hot, needing some interaction?
6. Always talk to your baby according to their state. If they are drowsy and you want them more awake, then talk in a louder voice, encouraging them to wake up and be firm. If they are crying, sooth them using a calm and more rhythmical voice. Singing can help you both relax.
7. Always go back to thinking about life from the baby’s perspective. If that was you in the situation, what would you want?
Call me for any help on this topic