One of my favorite things as a new dad are the calming walks with my newborn. Our daughter becomes fussy and I start (sometime struggle though) the short list of reasons why babies cry. I am too hot/cold. I am scared/alone/confused. I am uncomfortable. I dirtied a diaper. I am tired. I hurt. I am hungry. After a while I learned each cry has a slightly differ sound. My job is to figure out what is causing the distress and address it.
As a father of a breastfeeding daughter and husband to a not-yet-breastpumping wife I have a short list of responses. I can cradle or hold her. I can talk calmly, soothingly or “shoosh.” We can bounce and walk together. A few holds that work for me:
Holding her over my shoulder – I find using a burp rag helps with the short end over my shoulder and the long end down my chest. As my daughter spits up, I pull the burp rag down my back. I rest her bottom on my forearm near the elbow and use the hand to grab the bicep of my free arm. This helps balance the weight on my shoulder. I use my free hand to rub her back.
The football hold (chest down on my forearm, arms and legs dangling, cradling her head with my hand.) Beware your child may be like mine and clutch/pull arm hair! I then can sway or bounce her a little to sleep.
After a while it becomes a routine. Yes I get tired, but this is a magical time of bonding I would not trade. All human connections begin with small steps. In the end, how I hold her matters less than if I am holding her.