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Newborn Cries For No Reason? Swaddling Might Help

Newborn Cries For No Reason? Swaddling Might Help

As any new parent will quickly learn, there are a host of reasons why babies may cry. From hunger or tiredness to issues posed by teething, these problems can cause great distress to infants and trigger sustained bouts of crying and grizzling. The issue can be complicated further by a lack of clear understanding, as the primitive nature of a baby’s cry can make it hard to decipher exactly what the problem is.

This usually requires patience and a process of trial and error, although it should also be noted that babies can occasionally cry for no apparent or easily identifiable reason. While there is clearly an underlying trigger for this phenomenon, searching for this can be extremely time-consuming and stressful for both parents and child alike.

Why Swaddling might help your Distressed Child

Swaddling is a typical response to the noise of a baby crying, especially when there is no obvious motivation for this. UK readers will have noted that this practice has been at the centre of a national debate in recent times too, after media reports suggested that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton had used an Aden and Anais cloth to swaddle their infant son George.

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This comes on the back of various medical studies in the UK, which have come to light after the Conservative government was re-elected in the recent general election. These studies claim that there is a link between swaddling and an increased risk of cot death, hip development problems and posture issues, although is also conflicting data which reaffirms the belief that this practice can help to calm a child safely and send them to sleep.

3 Reasons why Swaddling may help your Child and how to do it right

In terms of the latter, here are three reasons why swaddling may help to stop your baby crying, along with statistical support: –

1. Swaddling may reduce SIDS

Sudden infant death Syndrome (SIDS) is a devastating condition, and one that can cause families immense suffering and hardship. In 2007, however, the Journal of Pediatrics performed a meta-study to research the relationship between swaddling and the condition and made some startling discoveries. The results revealed that swaddling actively reduced the rate of SIDS, as long as children are swaddled correctly and prevented from inadvertently covering their heads or face with the cloth (or any surrounding bedding). It is also believed to prevent them from rolling onto their stomachs and incurring the risk of disrupted breathing patterns.

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2. Swaddling can lead to improve neuromuscular development

This finding is at odds with a common belief that exists among parents, namely that a newborn child needs to have their hands free to that they are able to practice using their limbs. This ignores that the scientific fact that the vast majority of movement in your infant child’s limbs in involuntary and entirely random, and that it does little to aid neuromuscular development. In fact, immobilizing your child’s arms through swaddling actively helps them to develop enhanced motor skill organisation from a young age.

3. Swaddling can lead to a 28% reduction in your Baby crying

We have already stated how many parents swaddle their children to comfort them when they are distressed for no apparent reason, and this appears to be grounded in some form of factual data. According to the Baby Center, swaddling alone can lead to an estimated 28% reduction in crying while soothing infants quickly and effectively. This is not to say that safe and effective swaddling can completely prevent babies from crying, but it certainly works both as a supplementary soothing measure and as a standalone practice.

How to Swaddle your Child Safely

While these points may make a compelling argument for swaddling, they are reliant on a safe and compliant execution. Your child must never be put to sleep on their stomach, for example, while you must follow a precise ritual to ensure that they are unable to flip onto their stomach while swaddled. Swaddling is only ever to be used for babies laying on their backs, as otherwise you will increase the risk of SIDS and other potential complications.

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In terms of best practice, start by laying a baby blanket on a flat surface and position it in a diamond shape. Then fold down the top corner, and place your child gently on their back with their neck on the fold. Then perform a right side tuck, holding their arm gently down flat at their side and pulling the left corner of the blanket across the body and over the right arm. You should then tuck it under the left arm and roll the baby gently to left and tuck the remaining material under their back.

At this point, make sure that your baby still has flexibility in their hips and can move these up and outwards. If this is the case, continue to hold your child’s left arm down at their side and pull the bottom corner of the blanket up over the left shoulder. Tuck any excess fabric around the left arm, before pulling the loose right corner taut and bringing it across your baby’s’ stomach. Be sure to roll the child gently to their right so that you can wrap the corner all the way around his back.

As you can see, the key with swaddling is to adhere to a strict code of conduct and best practice that ensures the safety of your child. Be sure to make an informed decision, however, and research the subject in great detail before determining what is right for you and your child.

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Featured photo credit: Sathyatripodi / Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on February 11, 2021

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

I’m old enough to remember how the cane at school was used for punishment. My dad is old enough to think that banning corporal punishment in schools resulted in today’s poorly disciplined youth. With all of this as my early experiences, there was a time when I would have been better assigned to write about how to negatively discipline your child.

What changed? Thankfully, my wife showed me different approaches for discipline that were very positive. Plus, I was open to learning.

What has not changed is that kids are full of problems with impulses and emotions that flip from sad to happy, then angry in a moment. Though we’re not that different as adults with stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine in our diets.

Punishment as Discipline?

What this means is that we usually take the easy path when a child misbehaves and punish them. Punishment may solve an isolated problem, but it’s not really teaching the kids anything useful in the long term.

Probably it’s time for me to be clear about what I mean by punishment and discipline as these terms are often used interchangeably, but they are quite different.

Discipline VS. Punishment

Punishment is where we inflict pain or suffering on our child as a penalty. Discipline means to teach. They’re quite the opposite, but you’ll notice that teachers, parents, and coaches often confuse the two words.

So, as parents, we have to have clear goals to teach our kids. It’s a long-term plan—using strategies that will have the longest-lasting impact on our kids are the best use of our time and energy.

If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, then it becomes easier to find the best strategy. The better we are at responding when our kids misbehave or do not follow our guidance, the better the results are going to be.

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3 Positive Discipline Strategies for Your Child

Stay with me as I appreciate that a lot of people who read these blogs do not always have children with impulse control. We’ve had a lot of kids in our martial arts classes that were the complete opposite. They had concentration issues, hyperactive, and disruptive to the other children.

The easy solution is to punish their parents by removing the kids from the class or punish the child with penalties such as time outs and burpees. Yes, it was tempting to do all of this, but one of our club values is that we pull you up rather than push you down.

This means it’s a long-term gain to build trust and confidence, which is destroyed by constant punishments.

Here are the discipline strategies we used to build trust and confidence with these hyperactive kids.

1. Patience

The first positive discipline strategy is to simply be patient. The more patient you are, the more likely you are to get results. Remember I said that we need to build trust and connection. You’ll get further with this goal using patience.

As a coach, sometimes I was not the best person for this role, but we had other coaches in the club that could step in here. As a parent, you may not have this luxury, so it’s really important to recognize any improvements that you see and celebrate them.

2. Redirection

The second strategy we use is redirection. It’s important with a redirection to take “no” out of the equation. Choices are a great alternative.

Imagine a scenario where you’re in a restaurant and your kid is wailing. The hard part here is getting your child to stop screaming long enough for you to build a connection. Most parents have calming strategies and if you practice them with your child, they are more likely to be effective.

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In the first moment of calm, you can say “Your choice to scream and cry in public is not a good one. It would be best to say, Dad. What can I do to get ice-cream?” You can replace this with an appropriate option.

The challenge with being calm and redirecting is that we need to be clear-minded, focused, and really engaged at the moment. If you’re on your phone, talking with friends or family, thinking about work or the bills, you’ll miss this opportunity to discipline in a way that has long-term benefits.

3. Repair and Ground Rules

The third positive discipline strategy is to repair and use ground rules. Once you’ve given the better option and it has been taken, you have a chance to repair this behavior to lessen its occurrence to better yet, prevent it from happening again. And by setting appropriate ground rules, you can make this a long-term win by helping your child improve their behavior.

It’s these ground rules that help you correct the poor choices of your child and direct the behavior that you want to see.

Consequences Versus Ultimatums

When I was a child and being punished. My parents worked in a busy business for long hours, so their default was to go to ultimatums. “Do that again and you’re grounded for a week,” or “If I catch you doing X, you’ll go to bed without dinner”.

Looking back, this worked to a point. But the flip side is that I remembered more of the ultimatums than the happier times. I’ve learned through trial and error with my own kids that consequences are more effective while not breaking down trust.

What to Do When Ground Rules Get Broken?

It’s on the consequences that you use when the ground rules are broken.

In the martial arts class, when the hyperactive student breaks the ground rules. They would miss a turn in a game or go to the back of the line in a queue. We do not want to shame the child by isolating them. But on the flip side, there should be clear ground rules and proportionate consequences.

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Yes, there are times when we would like to exclude the student from the class, the club, and even the universe. Again, it’s here that patience is so important and probably impulse control too. With an attainable consequence, you can maintain trust and you’re more likely to get the long-term behavior that you’re looking to achieve.

Interestingly, we would occasionally hear a strategy from parents that little Kevin has been misbehaving at home with his sister or something similar. He likes martial arts training, so the parent would react by removing Kevin from the martial arts class as a punishment.

We would suggest that this would remove Kevin from an environment where he is behaving positively. Removing him from this is likely to be detrimental to the change you would like to see. He may even feel shame when he returns to the class and loses all the progress he’s made.

Alternatives to Punishment

Another option is to tell Kevin to write a letter to his sister, apologizing for his behavior, and explaining how he is going to behave in the future.

If your child is too young to write, give the apology face to face. For the apology to feel sincere, there is some value to pre-framing or practicing this between yourself and your child before they give it to the intended person.

Don’t expect them to know the ground rules or what you’re thinking! It will be clearer to your child and better received with some practice. You can practice along the lines of: “X is the behavior I did, Y is what I should have done, and Z is my promise to you for how I’m going to act in the future.” You can replace XYZ with the appropriate actions.

It does not need to be a letter or in person, it can even be a video. But there has to be an intention to repair the broken ground rule. If you try these strategies, that is become fully engaged with them and you’re still getting nowhere.

But what to do if these strategies do not work? Then there is plenty to gain by seeking the help of an expert. Chances are that something is interfering or limiting their development.

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This does not mean that your child has a neurological deficiency, although this may be the root cause. But it means that you can get an objective view and help on how to create the changes that you would like to see. Remember that using positive discipline strategies is better than mere punishment.

There are groups that you can chat with for help. Family Lives UK has the aim of ensuring that all parents have somewhere to turn before they reached a crisis point. The NSPCC also provides a useful guide to positive parenting that you can download.[1]

Bottom Line

So, there your go, the three takeaways on strategies you can use for positively disciplining your child. The first one is about you! Be patient, be present, and think about what is best for the long term. AKA, avoid ultimatums and punishment. The second is to use a redirect, then repair and repeat (ground rules) as your 3-step method of discipline.

Using these positive discipline strategies require you to be fully engaged with your child. Again, being impulsive breaks trust and you lose some of the gains you’ve both worked hard to achieve.

Lastly, consequences are better than punishment. Plus, avoid shaming, especially in public at all costs.

I hope this blog has been useful, and remember that you should be more focused on repairing bad behavior because being proactive and encouraging good behavior with rewards, fun, and positive emotions takes less effort than repairing the bad.

More Tips on How To Discipline Your Child

Featured photo credit: Leo Rivas via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NSPCC Learning: Positive parenting

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