Sumi is in peaceful sleep inside her car seat as the mother and counselor chat. After only a small stir, Sumi suddenly arouses with a full, hardy cry. Mother swoops down to pick up the baby, who is already red in the face and whose hands reach out with a wide, jerky movement. The baby wiggles frantically in mother's lap as she attempts to open her blouse to breastfeed. Once brought to the breast, the baby sucks a couple of times then falls off to sleep.
Wow, Carolyn, thinks. This baby IS a handful!
As Carolyn listens carefully to this mother's story, she hears familiar characteristics of a more challenging baby: high activity level, unpredictable schedule, and frequent state (or Zone) changes. Sumi is struggling with Zone regulation issues, which puts this mother at risk for giving up breastfeeding.
A baby exhibiting effective state (or Zone) regulation will transition from one state to another rather slowly, might bring her hand to her mouth, or assume the fencing pose to calm herself down. That baby feels easier to understand and more predictable to the mother.
When Sumi begins crying again, Carolyn leans over and speaks to the baby with a sing-song voice. Surprisingly the baby slows down her crying. Then Carolyn encourages the mother to gently hold Sumi's hand to the baby's chest. The mother is delighted to see Sumi stop crying and look up at her.
A follow-up phone call a week later reveals that this mother and her baby duo are doing much better. The mother is proud to be a breastfeeding mom and is confident that the support and encouragement of other mothers--and her WIC counselor--will help her meet her breastfeeding goals.