"The Baby Calmer", another new Certified HUG Teacher from Australia!
Anne Thistleton, aka “The Baby Calmer,”
lives in Brisbane, Australia. She is in private practice as an
infant/early years counselor and specializes in
providing clinical and in-home parenting support and education. Parents seek Anne’s help
with issues ranging from bonding concerns, birth trauma, postnatal depression,
infant crying and sleep difficulties, to parental stress and anxiety, family
conflicts, etc. Anne is also a qualified Sandplay Therapist, Primary School
Teacher, Mediator, and Infant Massage Instructor.
Anne has begun incorporating HUG Your Baby
techniques into her in-home work with young families. Today she shares a story
of using The HUG with Katrina and her eight-week-old daughter.
eight-week-old baby was described, early on, as "unsettled." As an
infant the new family member cried often, and the whole family struggled with
sleep issues. Katrina frequently turned to her husband to care for her baby.
She worried that the baby's distress, inability to sleep, and frequent turning
away from her meant that her baby didn't love her. Understandably, Katrina
felt anxious, and worried that she was not a good mother. With her husband
taking over most of the care of the baby, Katrina sank deeper into postnatal
visited Katrina and her baby in their home and walked her through the HUG Your
Baby "Zones and SOSs". Then together, over the next hour or so, they
observed Katrina's baby's secret body language and noted each time she would
"space out," "switch off," or "shut down." Learning
to distinguish the three Zones helped this young mother become more able to
gauge the intensity of her interactions with her baby and to know when to
reduce the level of stimulation.
Anne helped Katrina observe her baby assuming the fencing position, the young
mother remarked, "Oh look, she has already started to calm herself down."
Katrina began to talk to her baby and encouraged her to do what she needed to do
in order to regulate herself, assuring her that she would stay right there with
her and pay attention to what she was trying to “say.”
vocalizing and playing for a while, the baby turned her head away from her
mother. Katrina noticed and spoke to her baby, "I used to think that
you would look away because you didn't like me. But now I understand that
you just need time to 'regulate your system' so that we can keep playing together!" Katrina's
baby turned her head back to her mother and gave her a cheeky smile.
it seemed as though the baby was getting sleepy, Katrina wondered, "Is she
‘shutting down’ or going to sleep?" Anne suggested that they watch the
baby for a few minutes before putting her immediately in her bassinet. To
Katrina’s surprise, in a matter of minutes the baby was wide-eyed-and-bushy-tailed
again! Katrina explained that, in the past, she would have experienced
this behavior as a failure in her ability to help her baby get to sleep. This
time, mother was fully prepared to postpone putting the baby to sleep.
it DID become time for sleep, Katrina gently rocked her baby to sleep in her
arms and then placed her in the bassinet. But when the baby cried again, Katrina picked her back up and held her close. This mother explained that in
the past she would have thought that this crying meant her baby was angry at
her, and would rather be alone in her bassinet. However, Katrina was now able
to understand that her baby needed to “reboot” a little before she could calmly
re-enter the "Resting Zone". The crying soon eased, and the baby
drifted off to sleep in her mother's arms.
time, Katrina was able to transfer her daughter successfully to the bassinet,
position her comfortably, and softly stroke her body as she shifted into deeper
sleep. Katrina now understood about active sleep as well. When her daughter
moved back into her light sleep with some wiggling, eye movement and vocalizing,
Katrina comforted her without picking her up—and then, for the first time in
eight weeks, her baby slept for a total of over two hours!
explained that in the past she would have picked up her baby from this light
sleep—and then spent the next few hours pacing up and down the hallway,
bouncing her baby frantically, and desperately trying to help her back to
sleep. "I'm surprised how much better this is," she continued.
"I can't wait for her to be ready to wake up so that we can practice this
together, all over again"!
to understanding the HUG Your Baby "Zones", "SOSs", and sleep strategies reduced Katrina's
stress and anxiety, increased her confidence as a mum, and restored her
responsiveness to her new baby. At last, Katrina began to experience the joy of
bonding with her baby.