Ihave realized that even though he's only the ripe old age of three months, Jacob and I are fundamentally at odds with each other. He likes to cry and fuss, but I don’t think it’s so hot. Our opposition leads us into a daily battle between his lungs and my wits.
In the mornings until about 11:30, he is the happiest baby you would ever want to meet. All smiles, giggles and gurgles. Between 11:30 and noon he usually naps, and then at the stroke of noon the spell is broken. He magically transforms into Grumpy the Dwarf (I suppose he relates with the short stature) and begins to whine to his heart’s content.
This, of course, makes me DIScontent. Since he started this new routine a couple weeks back, I had begun to dread the hours between noon and 5 p.m., and then I discovered that television makes a wonderful baby soother. I’m kidding. Sort of.
Television is just one of the few things I have discovered can quiet my fussy guy for a few minutes at a time. When used in conjunction with each other, my tricks help me retain my sanity for the better part of an afternoon, and I can usually even manage to get dinner on the table and myself put together.
Although every baby is different and what works marvelously for one may amount to a hill of beans for another, I’ve listed a few of my favorite afternoon baby-soothers below that you may want to try during your little one’s fussy moments:
• Mirrors: All babies have a healthy dose of narcissism floating around in them, and Jacob is no exception. Give him one gander at his own handsome mug, and he’s good to go for at least ten minutes.
• Dancing: Jacob loves music and the kid has great taste. We “Cha-Cha-Cha D’Amour” to Dean Martin, waltz to Summer Place, and two-step to Frank Sinatra (and sometimes when we’re feeling particularly feisty, Unk).
• A noise machine: When Jacob was first born, I used our noise machine to play soothing ocean sounds. Now, when he’s in a fussy mood I switch it over to the “jungle” setting. He spends so much time looking around for the phantom screeching monkeys that he doesn’t have time to screech himself.
• Naptime: When Jacob starts showing signs that all my tricks are wearing him out, it’s straight to the crib we go for a snooze. This may sound obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to confuse overstimulation and tiredness for your run-of-the-mill fussing. Although I’m trying to institute a naptime schedule, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to his afternoon sleeping habits so far. Sometimes he goes down for a full-on 30-minute catnap; other times it’s a runt-of-the-litter kitten nap. But, even those four minute naps help. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in under five minutes flat.
• Nursing: He loves a pretty nurse. (I’m looking at you Mom and Christy!). But, really, nursing seems to be a more effective soothing tool than anything else. Still, I don’t want to set us up with attachment issues later on, so I try to let him self-soothe as much as possible and rely on nursing only when he’s truly hungry or I’m at my wits end.
• Story time: This is my personal favorite. Every day, at least once, we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and The Hungry Little Caterpillar. Even if he has been yelling at a fever pitch before I begin reading, by the time I get to Red Bird or what the caterpillar ate on Monday, he is as happy as a bug in a rug. I have tried reading more advanced books (think Little Golden Books, not War and Peace) but his little brain isn’t quite there yet.
• Television: This stands alongside nursing as a last resort. I have discovered that Jacob particularly appreciates afternoon soap operas. Maybe he associates them with bathtime. (Ba-dum-ching!) Really, though, the kid is in love with Baby Einstein. The second the music begins and the weird worm-like puppet creatures waltz across the screen, he is hooked. As a mom, knowing that you, in all your three-dimensional glory, are significantly less enrapturing than a two-dimensional tv screen doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But it’s not confidence I’m after; it’s a quiet, happy baby. And, for now, Baby Einstein’s “Baby Noah” does the trick every time.
If you have any other effective boredom-busting, baby-soothing tricks, feel free to share in the comment section below.