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My son is turning 2 months old next week, and lately we've noticed he has trouble getting comfortable when we put him down in his bassinet/crib.

It starts out alright, he looks sleepy after we feed, change, and burp him so we put him down with a little soft white noise playing. But as soon as his hands and feet touch the mattress, his legs start to kick in the air and his hands and arms start to swing about, and it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to get him to relax again.

Is there anything we can do to help him settle when we lay him down for a nap?

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  • "But as soon as his hands and feet touch the mattress, his legs start to kick in the air and his hands and arms start to swing about [...]." Have you considered that he's doing this because he does not want to go to bed yet? In which case you wouldn't be helping him settle. Sometimes I'm sleepy or just look sleepy but don't feel like sleeping yet. Aug 12 at 15:37

2 Answers 2

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Swaddle the child well. The arms and legs should be wrapped well enough to prevent flailing, swinging and wide movements. Detailed directions can be found in many sources, for example in the book and accompanying videos by Harvey Karp "The Happiest Baby on the Block; Fully Revised and Updated Second Edition: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer".

REFERENCES:

New babies have very little control over their arms. Swaddling prevents your little one from whacking herself in the face and getting even more upset. It also prevents her from startling herself and disrupting sleep. Once wrapped, a baby can pay attention and be soothed by the other S's (Side-Stomach, Shushing, Swinging or Sucking).

How To Swaddle a Baby Using the “DUDU” Method By Dr. Harvey Karp

1. The 1st S: Swaddle
Swaddling recreates the snug packaging inside the womb and is the cornerstone of calming. It decreases startling and increases sleep. And, wrapped babies respond faster to the other 4 S’s and stay soothed longer because their arms can’t wriggle around. To swaddle correctly, wrap arms snug—straight at the side—but let the hips be loose and flexed. Use a large square blanket, but don’t overheat, cover your baby’s head or allow unraveling. Note: Babies shouldn’t be swaddled all day, just during fussing and sleep.

Using the 5 S's to Soothe a Crying Baby: Dr. Harvey Karp – Happiest Baby

DUDU Swaddling Technique by Dr. Harvey Karp (YouTube video)

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  • We have tried swaddling - we even use the DUDU method linked above. However, getting the bottom part of the swaddle under him is proving to be a challenge as he gets bigger and bigger, and he's usually wiggled free of his swaddle within 15 minutes of us finishing it - so we aren't having much luck there.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 22, 2021 at 13:54
  • @Zibbobz Swaddling snugly, when done correctly, does not allow the child to wiggle free, certainly not within 15 minutes. Perhaps your swaddle is too loose for the child's current strength. I would recommend revisiting your swaddling technique. Also, what about the other 4 S's: Side-Stomach, Shushing, Swinging or Sucking? Oct 22, 2021 at 14:01
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    A tighter swaddle might help - we'll try to practice a little more, though it doesn't quite resolve the issue of the bottom flap not being able to wrap around our boy. As for the other S's of soothing, they work to varying degrees - but it can still be an issue when we finally have to put him down.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 22, 2021 at 14:06
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    Regarding ambient noise your solution with white noise sounds the best. Make sure that the white noise is loud. It is not supposed to be soft and low, but rather quite loud. Also, for light, have you considered a large upright standing folding screen? It can shield the child from light quite well. Oct 22, 2021 at 14:21
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    That might be in our future - for now though, the suggestion to tighten the swaddle has yielded some good results! I may need to get more of the larger-sized ones since they seem to fit him best. But barring any other surprises, I'm probably going to accept this as the answer. Thank you for all the help!
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 22, 2021 at 16:04
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Helping your 7-week-old son get comfortable when you put him down for sleep or rest is essential for promoting a peaceful and restful environment. Here are some tips to assist you:

Swaddling: Consider swaddling your baby in a soft and breathable swaddle. Swaddling can provide a sense of security and mimic the cozy feeling of the womb, helping them feel more settled and comfortable.

Gentle Rocking or Motion: Many babies find gentle rocking or motion soothing. You can try rocking your baby in your arms, using a baby swing or bouncer, or even taking a calm stroll with them in a stroller or baby carrier. The rhythmic movement can help your baby relax and ease into sleep.

White Noise or Shushing Sounds: Background or white noise can create a calming atmosphere for your baby. You can use a white noise machine, a fan, or even play soft lullabies or soothing sounds. Alternatively, you can make a gentle "shh" sound near your baby's ear. These sounds can provide a soothing effect and help drown out other noises that might startle your baby.

Comfortable Sleeping Environment: Ensure your baby's sleeping environment is comfortable. Use a firm, supportive mattress in the crib or bassinet and a fitted sheet. Avoid placing loose items, such as pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals, in the sleeping area to reduce the risk of suffocation or SIDS.

Gentle Touch and Soothing Techniques: Experiment with gentle touch and soothing techniques that work for your baby. Some babies find gentle back rubs, gentle pats, or light massages comforting. You can also try using a pacifier if your baby takes one, as sucking can be soothing for them.

Establish a Bedtime Routine: A consistent bedtime routine can signal your baby that it's time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This routine can include a warm bath, gentle massage, reading a bedtime story, or singing a lullaby. Over time, the routine can help your baby associate these activities with sleep and create a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Remember that newborns have varying sleep patterns, and waking frequently for feeding and comfort is normal. Be patient and flexible as you navigate your baby's needs. If you have any concerns or questions, it's always a good idea to consult your pediatrician for personalized guidance.

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