Thursday, December 1, 2011


A comment by a fellow blogger about infant colic and parental temperament got me thinking the other day. We talk about & expect a lot from our little ones in terms of self-soothing, yet how well (and HOW) do we do it ourselves?

We expect babies to learn to "self-soothe" at a very young age (after 2 months, say the experts!) by holding a lovey, or sucking a pacifier. My toddler sucks on his blankie &sings to himself or recites lines from books when he's trying to wind down at night or naptime. 

What is my in-the-moment tool to assuage anxiety and fear so that I can function or sleep? Its hard to think of an answer. Long-term, sure, I try to exercise, plan well, socialize, get enough sleep, get alone time---these things help keep me from feeling overwhelmed & burnt out. But despite my best efforts to live a calm and peaceful life (hah!) there are moments when I am angry, afraid, worried. Moments when I just can't calm my racing mind to be able to relax or sleep.

Honestly, my soothing techniques are decidedly NON-self. I am not one to meditate or use calming imagery or the like. When I am anxious and can't sleep I go straight to my favorite life-avoidance activities: games on my phone, reading blogs, re-reading old books.  Anything to take me out of my head & stop the incessant thinking. If I can finagle it, it also helps to get a backrub from my husband. After a particularly tough day, a glass of wine might do the trick.

Turns out, though I am a full-fledged adult with 30+ years of practice, I still require lots of help to soothe myself. Helps me empathize more when the 2-month-old or even 23-month-old just won't "calm the f*() down and go to sleep already"!


  1. Anybody who has known a colicky baby can only laugh at the idea that a 2-month-old should self soothe. Well, they SHOULD to help us stay sane but some of them are clearly not close to capable of it. And, like you, I get it. I know that temperament has a lot to do with it but soothing is hard business.

    Sometimes I think it's even more difficult for toddlers. My son g is now 30 months and there is so much going on in their worlds, so much that is new and exciting that it can be brutally difficult to turn all that off just because it's bedtime.

  2. Slowmamma: Yes, I agree that it is harder for toddlers. Recently big brother has hit the realization that STUFF IS GOING ON downstairs without him & it gets him quite upset. Its made bedtime & naptime very difficult (used to be quite pleasant). How to convince a little guy to ignore all the fun possibilities & settle down to rest?