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  • Writer's pictureAngela Laverick

Gentle, Responsive Sleep Settling Tip

Picture the scene, your baby has fallen asleep, cradled in your arms. You gently place them down in their sleep space and PING those eyes are wide open 👀

Your soundly sleeping baby is now suddenly wide awake 🤦‍♀️ It's like they know you are about to leave them!

Here's a little tip to try using what is sometimes known as a 'containment hold' or 'hand cradling'.

Hand containment is the gentle but secure placing of hands on the infant’s head and body. This recreates the warmth and containment that babies crave. It can be a way to help baby keep arms and legs tucked in close to the body - a position that is known to be calming for infants.

Hand containment is a way to communicate a warm, reassuring presence to your baby. It is also a way to actively teach your baby how to tuck arms and legs in towards the body and gradually learn to use their own calming skills. Swaddling can also be a good way to help a baby feel secure and contained, but swaddling is less responsive to a baby’s behaviour.

When you put you baby down asleep don't be so quick to move away.

Keep your hands in contact with your baby in a firm but gentle, secure hold. This might be at the head and bottom, or the sides of the body encompassing the arms.

Watch your baby.

Feel them relax into the space secure in the knowledge that you are still there.

Slowly release your hands a little, watching your baby's reaction. Continue to provide the touch they need that helps them to reorganise and relax.

Go at your babies pace, watching their responses, adjusting your touch as they need it.

Eventually your touch will be so light that you can move away and your baby will feel secure and relaxed enough to sleep.

Hand containment is also a good way to help a baby stay calm and content during care giving activities, such as a nappy change. Pausing and using this form of touch helps a baby develop the ability to relax while learning that you recognise and can respond to their signs of stress. This responsiveness helps infants feel secure and safe.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

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