Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

This post is sponsored.  This means I was asked to review or try something new, and then remunerated to share those thoughts.  Since you are reading this post, it ALSO means that I enjoyed my experience. If I hadn't thought it was worth recommending, I wouldn't have agreed to write about it. 

Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

I know what you’re thinking.

I touch my baby all the time and it doesn’t seem all “magical”
when he’s screaming his head off at 10pm at night.  

Ahhh….but there are different types of touch. Are you sure you’re using the right kind?

If I had a mustache, I’d twirl it because I’m about to blow your mind with a magic trick.

And not just any magic trick! It’s a trick you can replicate at home over and over and over again.

Now, whether you want your Hubby to put on the fishnet hose, tux tails, top hat and Vanna-White this wizardry is entirely up to you. (If you do, though, please send me a video.)

Obviously touching your baby isn’t going to soothe your baby ALL the time, or I’d have my own TV show by now.  It is, however, a great place to start on your soothing checklist!

What Touch Has to Do With Self-Soothing

When I say “touch your baby,” I don’t mean move him from the car seat to the bouncy chair.

I mean cuddle time.  Forehead kisses.  Cheek strokes.  Tummy raspberries.  Bottom pats.

Several studies (check out my citations below) have shown that children who are denied physical and emotional attention in the first year are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems as they grow up.

When babies are touched, their brain sends a happy message to the portion of their brain (Mr. Pituitary Gland) to start producing Oxytocin and stop creating Cortisol. 

Cortisol: The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is the Burt Wonderstone of your baby’s sleep.  A dud.  Sure, you can invite him to the party, but his tricks are going to cost you.  He makes it much much harder for your baby to fall into a sleeping trance.

This hormone gets him all riled up, and makes self-soothing almost impossible.  

Oxytocin: The Hug Hormone, the Cuddle Chemical

When you pick up your child, her brain is literally flooded over with this elixir of bliss, soothing and calming. It’s why picking up a crying child is the fastest way to soothe them.

It’s also why if you wait too long, picking up does nothing. Why? Because Mr. Pituitary Gland isn’t making oxytocin anymore.  He’s switched over to cortisol.  Your baby is stressed and isn’t going to soothe easily.

You’ve Got a Parenting Problem

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned here:

Touching Your Baby = Soothing Power Ups

Seems easy, right?

Except that it’s not. 

  • Do you ever have to put your baby down?
  • Do you want to eventually sleep in your bed without a co-sleeper?
  • Do you want to not stand next to your baby for every naptime?

It’s awesome that we can soothe our children and boost their physical, emotional, and social development using nothing but our own bare hands.  That rocks.

Let’s be honest, though.  Sometimes a 24/7 touching regimen isn’t possible:

  • You have other children that need you.
  • You have to prepare meals, pay bills, and mow the lawn.
  • You are an Extreme Sport Sleeper.  Putting a baby near your flailing limbs would be hazardous.
  • You’d like a little space, gosh darn it.  #introvertsunite #separately

Sure, baby wearing is an option, but at some point your baby needs to start developing some self-soothing skills.

Which is why it’s a great thing to be a parent in the 21st Century. We have lots of technological “Top Hats” to pull rabbits out of.

When it comes to touch, recent studies like this one have shown that we can get the same brain-results that a parent’s touch causes without actually doing the touching.  

Before you start picturing this epic robot fail and cringing, let me offer a gentler solution

Newborn & Baby Self Soothing

The goal here is to help children gain self-soothing confidence while they’re sleeping by touching them without actually touching them.  

Newborn Self Soothing

For babies younger than 20 weeks, self-soothing is a difficult task.  Newborns are going through so many changes, that it can be hard to lock down a good schedule.  (Even though we can still try.)

For many newborns, the Wide World outside the Womb is a big disappointment.  Gone are those warm quiet evenings, listening to Mom’s heartbeats and feeling Dad’s pokes.

Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

The Magic Zen Swaddle.

There’s a reason newborns are all bunched up like little frogs. They are soothed by being tucked up close to mom and dad.  Their moro reflex is on high alert – ready to startle them awake.

The Zen Swaddle not only holds them close, but it has lightly weighted pads on the tummy and sides to mimic the strong gentle arms of Mom and Dad.

And I mean “lightly weighted”.  These aren’t for body-builders.  They are carefully calibrated using physiotherapy standards and are completely safe for a newborn 0-6 months old (weighing between 7-18 lbs.).

The Zen Swaddle provides newborns with the perfect illusion of being held 24/7, the exact feeling they need to gain their confidence to self-soothe.

Baby Self Soothing

Once your baby gets through his four month growth spurt, you’ll look at him and (with shock) realize that your “newborn” has transformed into a full-fledged baby.

Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

The Magic Zen Sack.

He’s rolling over.

He’s smiling and cooing and playing.

And the Zen Swaddle is no longer a safe option.  It’s time to wean away from the swaddle and transition over to a Zen Sack instead.

The Zen Sack keeps his arms free, so he can roll over, but still has those lightly weighted pads on his tum-tum to keep him feeling safe and secure.  Again, it’s perfectly calibrated for your baby’s body weight in order to safely lull him into a secure sleep.

Many sleep coaching clients have shared that their baby’s sleep goes down the toilet once they transition away from the swaddle.  The Zen Sack is our new “go to” solution to help keep those good sleeping habits going strong.

It’s the Final Countdown

If you have a newborn struggling to self-soothe, I’d give the Zen Swaddle a try.  Or, if your baby is still waking at night, and you’re tired of patting for hours, the Zen Sack is a good investment.

I fully realize that in revealing this magical baby self soothing trick, I have seriously compromised my position in the Alliance of Magicians.

You know what, though?

You’re worth it.

To prove my dedication to sharing THE TRUTH, I’m going to dramatically throw my Alliance of Magicians membership card into the sea.

 
 

You’re welcome.

Now get out there and work your magic.

xo,

Heather's signature


This post was sponsored by Nested Bean, creator of the Zen Swaddle and the Zen Sleep Sack. I agreed to write this post because *brace for shock* I really think their products can help you with your baby’s sleeping issues.  In fact, my gentle sleep coaching partner Amy Potts and I have decided to recommend their products to our sleeping clients, a decision that was 100% unsponsored. Highly recommended.  


Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

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Meet Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007.  She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others.  If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.  


 

I ♥ Citations

The Experience of Touch: Research Points to a Critical Role.  NY Times
How Important is Physical Contact with Your Infant?  Scientific American
Orphaned Babies Show Hormone Disruption Years after Adoption.  Scientific American
The Effect of Human Contact on Newborn Babies.  LiveStrong
Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say. Harvard University Gazette

Comments

  1. Oh my word where was this blog 2months ago…i would have really learnt alot. Thanks though…such a good read..i love the zac sack😍😍😍😍

    • So glad you’re enjoying it, Angela!

      • nikki hudson says:

        We are having a nightmare with our 6 month old. From 4 months she has been waking up to 4-5 times a night. Some times its a quick feed and back to sleep and others you can be in there 2 hours as, as soon as we put her down she wakes up.

        She is also not a huge milk drinker during the day and only really drinks a lot before nap time. This has also become a crutch as she has started to only fall asleep after having a bottle or nursing. I went back to work 2 weeks ago and daddy is off with her but im still doing the night feeds. Im a RN so cannot function at work on 3 hours of broken sleep. She goes down at 7pm then wakes at 10 for a feed and then it can be anything from a further2-4 feeds. She also wakes some mornings at 5 am to start the day 🙁 Advice needed for this exhausted family of three kids.

      • Jenny Blake says:

        Nikki,

        I feel you. Exhaustion is a terrible place to live. I do have a suggestion for you, though. We have a sleep coach here at Incredible Infant, and she works with individual families to figure out what is wrong with the various sleep patterns and gives them a plan to change it. Each baby and family is different, so I recommend that you get in touch with her and set up a sleep session. Here is her page. This is just a season, Nikki, and you will survive it. I know Amy can help you.

  2. Michelle Herrera says:

    What if your baby sleeps on his tummy? He rolls over immediately so it’s impossible to get him to sleep on his back. He’s 8 months and still waking for feedings 2-3 times a night. I’m about to lose my sanity. I’ve tried letting him just cry it out, but he full fledge cries not just whimpers and then ends up sitting up in his crib screaming. I’ve tried going in and rocking him back to sleep but he just immediately goes for the breast and freaks out if I don’t let him eat, and when he does eat it’s not just for a minute or two until he falls back asleep… It’s a full on feeding like he’s never eaten before. I’m so lost on what to do.

    • Michelle, at 8 months he has better control of his neck, so I wouldn’t be as concerned about the tummy sleeping (although talk it over with your doctor to make sure). Some kids, like adults, just prefer to sleep on their tummies. If you’re just struggling with a single sleeping issue, I would recommend meeting with Amy for a Sleep Session so she can get more details on your situation and give you some specific customized advice and pointers. Or we’d love to work with you for 4-5 weeks and get ALL of these kinks worked out together through the Super Sleeper Coaching Program. It’s more expensive, but it has a 110% Money Back Guarantee to show that we are as committed to your success as we are. Either of these options would help us dig into what’s going on (routines, napping totals, possible medical issues, etc.) and create an effective plan you’re happy with.

  3. With baby number one at 7 months and having wished for something like this, I am saving this for baby number two when the time comes! Thank you for the great read and advice!

  4. It is very common to all parents. Baby sleeping issue is a genuine problem. The important part of safe sleep for your baby is the place where he/she sleeps, sleeping position, the kind of crib or bed and type of mattress. It is true that the quality of sleeping surface has a great impact on our babies’ health. So parents should be aware about this aspects and choose the natural mattresses for their babies.

  5. Will this zen swaddle help with nap time? My baby sleeps at night great, but naps are scarce making evenings awful!

    • I can’t guarantee it, since I’d need more information to find out what other things may be going on. That said, I do think it’s an amazing product – especially for those babies who really WANT to sleep on their tummies, but due to SIDS fears, you can’t let them.

      If you’d like us to look deeper into those naps, Libby, and teach you how to stretch them out a bit more, you may want to try signing up for a Sleep Session!

  6. My baby boy is 1.5 years old now, but we are still struggling for his good sleeping habbit. We are practising to teach him self soothing but not successful. leaving kid alone just for 10 minutes in room resulting into very much crying n screaming.
    Sometimes he has slept nicely on his own but after that he awake at midnight around 3 or 4 am.
    We have also tried to give him some soft toys or blankets or light musics but not getting good results.
    Hope you can guide us as what could I do?

    • Jenny Blake says:

      Hello Zalak!

      Thanks for reaching out to us. We actually have a Sleeping Coach here at Incredible Infant. She is really great at what she does and she has helped so many parents figure out their sleep struggles and offer solutions that have proved successful. There are two options for struggling parents. There is the full coaching package that includes close communication with Amy over several weeks, or there is a one time sleep session where she assesses your sleep struggle and offers an solution. Here is her contact page. Good luck and good job!

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