Japanese Certified HUG Teacher Helps a Mother Avoid Giving Formula

Yasue Ota has been a registered midwife in Japan for about 10 years and is now teaching maternity nursing and midwifery at Juntendo University in Chiba. Yasue discovered The HUG website and was attracted to the words, ‘Baby Zones and SOSs’. Yasue thinks that “HUG Your Baby Zones and SOSs” are such a wonderful and easy tool to help new parents understand their baby.

Read the exciting account, below, of how using The HUG kept one Japanese mother from giving formula!

I visited Maya when she was 2 weeks old. That was just 1 week after leaving the hospital. Her mother, Tomoko, told me that Maya cries all the time. Tomoko felt that perhaps her breast milk is not enough for her baby. So Tomoko was wondering if her baby might need a little formula. I shared with Tomoko the following ideas about a baby’s crying:

Most normal, healthy babies begin to cry more around forty-two weeks gestation, or two weeks after birth (if the baby was born full-term). Babies typically move from crying two hours a day to crying three hours a day by six weeks of age. Then their crying tapers to about one hour a day by twelve weeks of age.

I explained some easy-to-remember tips to Tomoko, who says what all new parents holding a crying baby say: “Just tell me what TO DO!” Sharing HUG Your Baby concepts, I told Maria:

T – Talk to your baby. Lean over and use a persistent, sing-songy voice close to her ear. Give your baby a few seconds to notice and respond to your voice.

O – Observe your baby's efforts to contribute to his own calming.

Maya was crying loudly while I talked to Tomoko. We paused to observe Maya’s efforts to calm herself. We were delighted to see Maya bringing her hand to her mouth, sucking her finger, and starting to quiet. Tomoko was surprised to learn that babies have instinctive behaviors that help them calm down.

I added another tip to DO (to calm the baby): If the baby is still crying, hold her arms against her chest and continue that quiet, persistent talking—and encourage the baby to suck your finger or the breast, or swaddle her safely.

Maya started to cry again and Tomoko leaned over the baby and spoke quietly into her ear. When Maya continued to cry Tomoko waited a moment and then noticed that the baby smacked her lips. The baby then quiets right down when Tomoko holds her tiny but strong arms securely against her chest. With a smile on her face, the mother then brought the baby to the breast for a good feed. “Now I see how I can work it all out without any formula!” Tomoko tells me.


I really feel pleasure in seeing the "ah ha" moments parents have when I use The HUG ideas and teaching strategies as they relate to their individual baby. I think HUG Your Baby is such a useful tool for facilitating breastfeeding, fostering mother-baby bonding, and enhancing parent confidence.