After the birth of our son I quickly realised that I in fact knew nothing about babies and what I did know was from what I had witnessed on TV. For example when our son first cried I expected that a simple gentle rocking and softly sshh’ing technique would settle him every time – it didn’t.
I made this discovery within the first couple of hours of him being born. My son’s first crying episode started off as quiet and cute but it quickly grew louder and more intense. At the time I was stood in no man’s land within a recovery ward of desperately exhausted women that were all trying to rest. I felt immense pressure to ease the crying before it triggered off a domino effect of screaming babies. I even caught a glimpse of one woman giving me stink eye and silently threating me with her slipper. My parenting incompetence was now public.
As the cry inevitably developed into an uncontrollable wail, the sudden rush of heat that had hit my cheeks was now at a radioactive level. I had no choice but to react quickly, so I placed my son back in his trolley crib and decided to push him up and down the corridor. To my utter relief the movement of the crib eased the cry but I feared the consequences of what would happen if I stopped. I had no choice but to continue striding up and down the corridor for the next two hours.
During my two hour walk I had noticed that a number of other Dads were in a similar position to me. I was reassured by one Dad in particular who was attempting to settle his baby with a gentle tuneful whistle. At first this seemed to be doing the job but unfortunately for him his baby’s cry grew to levels of hysteria. I watched on in anticipation of how he was going to handle this only to witness the man crumble. His whistle quickly transformed into a very loud and ear piercingly out of tune squeal, which could have easily been mistaken for an emergency distress call.
Within the first few weeks of any baby being born there will be a lot of sleeping, feeding, nappy changing and crying. Often the cries can be easily extinguished with a loving cuddle or a gentle pace around the room, but occasionally you will encounter bouts of crying that will leave you wondering what more you can do. Well I have been at that stage many a time and through bleary eyed desperation I have concocted some alternative techniques that proved to ease even the worst cry.
1. Running Water
Specifically a running tap – Now I know this is environmentally unfriendly and even admitting to this may raise eyebrows especially with many countries currently suffering from droughts. However, I can assure you that if I did use the running tap technique the water was used effectively for either a bath or washing up. Now my conscious is clear I can explain that I somehow found out that if I placed my crying boy’s ear next to a running tap he would instantly stop crying. This was guaranteed to work every time until he reached about 6 weeks. I had a lot of 4 am baths!
This may not be anything new to you as I imagine a lot of parents sing to their kids. I don’t like to brag about my singing ability but it has been said that I sound like ‘A Cat Being Strangled’, to be honest I haven’t heard of the band but they seem to be well known. Regardless of what others think my son likes my singing and the great thing is it doesn’t matter if I don’t know the lyrics or even repeat the same line over and over again it works to good effect.
I found out by complete fluke that if I squatted repeatedly whilst holding my crying son it would soothe him. I have no explanation as to how or why this would be soothing but it was another effective technique I used. If you wish to try this out then pick and choose your times carefully as if seen in public it can cause concern. This is also fantastic exercise to help lose some of the post pregnancy weight that Dads find so hard to shift.
4. Household Appliances
This includes anything that makes a repetitive droning sound like a vacuum, washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer. I am in NO way suggesting that you insert your baby into one of these appliances. What worked for me was placing my son’s bouncer chair next to the washing machine whilst it was on spin. It could have been the vibration more than the sound or maybe a mixture of both but either way it bought me a good ten minutes of silent time. Please note that depending on the temperament of your appliance this may cause an increase in crying. For example my vacuum cleaner has the suction of a dangerous tornado and sounds like a bear growling therefore it doesn’t go down well with my son.
5. Crazy Dancing
Don’t worry if you are not a classically trained dancer or if unlike me you haven’t been locally recognised for your contemporary dance skills, this could still work for you. I find that the more energy that you put into dancing at your little one the more you have to gain. The raw energy that I have generated from desperately trying to entertain my crying baby has produced dance moves that professionals could only dream of. If your baby is not entertained then you still have a chance that either shock or bewilderment at watching their Dad make a complete fool of himself will ease their crying.
When it comes to being a Dad there is unfortunately no handover notes given at the hospital or an instruction manual to refer to, you learn from listening to other parents or trying out things of your own. With every baby being unique it can be a bit like a game of Russian roulette as to what will work or what may make it worse but if all else has failed then these tips might be worth trying.
If you would like more completely exaggerated parenting tips then as they say on the intro of a popular 80’s TV series “If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find me, maybe you can hire… The iDad!”