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Why firm pressure could be the key to calmness.

When it comes to calming our tired little people it can feel overwhelming trying to find the tools to regulate them into a place of calm, ready to sleep.

One calming tool I find particularly useful for parents is firm pressure.

"If your baby loved being swaddled,

the chances are they will love this!"

Firm pressure consists of holding a hand gently but with some pressure against your baby or child's body to help them reach a state of calm.

There are many other ways children also love to be calmed and soothed including shushing, swaying, rocking, stroking, or patting. But if you haven't yet found your mojo with your child's favourite soother, then this could be for you.

Why I love this

The reason I love this is so often we forget how much of a sensory world our children are embraced in. The constant touch and cooing and learning and exploring children do whilst awake are forming millions of neural connections all the time. Some children can actually need a period of less sensory stimulation in order to become regulated for sleep.

Understanding how sensory needs play into calming.

Every child lives somewhere on a spectrum from loving sensory input (sensory seeking) all the way to hating sensory experiences (sensory avoiding). Understanding this can help to meet their needs when it comes to calming them down for sleep. Think of it like this; each time we pat on little people on the back to send them to sleep it's like a mini firework of neurons firing. Children that aren't sensory seekers, may find this over-stimulating and therefore, something like firm pressure may be really suitable here.

Ways to apply firm pressure.

You will find your little person's own favourite recipe of touch but some popular ways you could try include:

  • Pressure on the chest or holding one arm to the chest in a swaddle-like position.

  • Pressure on the tummy (be mindful of sensitivity and if they have recently eaten or if they are constipated as this may cause discomfort).

  • Pressure on the bottoms of the feet and the top of the head like a cacoon.

  • Pressure on the bottom if in a carrier (always follow safe sleep guidance)

Why firm pressure is a great place to start

When it comes to getting babies off to sleep using that firm pressure is a great place to begin. This is because we can then read their cues to layer in more or less contact to support them into sleep. If your child is really fussy they may be asking you for more contact in the form of patting or rubbing. If your child is restless and squirming from you, they may just simply need your presence to reassure them.

How to get out of it!

Now this is the important part. You've applied your firm pressure to your little person for the last 10-20 minutes and they are happily asleep.... now what!?

In order to remove this and set yourself free to get back to your glass of wine you need to slowly but surely lessen the contact.

Expert tip: your child is asleep when their breathing slows and their hands unclench, you can even try the arm drop test here.

I like to lessen the pressure slowly and gradually before listing my palm and keeping my fingertips on the baby. From here you can remove lift the hand and hover it just above the baby so that you are on hand to reapply if they stir. If they do simply resume your position and try again in another few minutes. Once you have removed your hand quietly leave the room. Another tip here is to make sure your landing lights aren't super bright as they may trigger your child to wake as you open their bedroom door and light floods the room.

I hope that this helps and that firm pressure is now a useful tool in your repertoire!

For more support just like this book in a free 1:1 with me.

Happy sleeping, Imogen X


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