Two Spoonfuls of Parenting Books

No matter your parenting needs, I’ve got you covered. Here are two books that approach parenting slightly differently. Look under the “Publications” menu or click on each book for more details and how to order.

d175c-cover                           Keep-it-Real-Grab-a-Plunger_9781462116324

Inspirational and Insightful.                                  Fun, friendly and informative.

This book examines the lives of                           This book addresses a variety of topics

scriptural parents like Adam and Eve                   from talking with your teen, creating

and what they can teach us by their                     memories around the table or bedtime,

examples. Truly, the scriptures are the                and how to stop yelling and start listening

 Perfect Parenting Manual!                                   to your child (plunger not included).  🙂

Bringing the Arts Home

I contributed to the Matt Townsend show on BYU radio about how the arts enrich home life. I give research about how the arts make your child smarts and practical ideas for creativity in the home.


School Success: BYU radio interview

School started today. *Sigh* It’s a bittersweet time.

No more relaxed, sunny days by the pool.
No more PBJ picnics.
No more late night star gazing and movie watching.
No more spontaneous UNO card games.
No more vacation from homework, alarm clocks, carpooling, and science fair projects.
No more shorts, T-shirts, flipflops and bedhead worn every day.

Adult alone time!
One word: schedules!
Mushy brains turn into learning brains again.
Not hearing “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom” 868 times a day.
As my neighbor sang in a lilted, Christmas-y tone yesterday: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

But the transition from summer to school can seem abrupt at best and often very difficult. It’s like living on planet Earth all summer and then being shipped to Mars. How can we help kids adjust easier and outfit them to thrive in that harsh climate? Here’s the BYU radio program I was interviewed for about preparing kids for school success.


Father’s Day Trivia

How are your facts about fathers? Here are 20 trivia questions about fathers to celebrate with the special men in your life on Father’s Day.(Try not to peek at the answers at the end until you have tried them all). It would be a good game to play on Father’s Day to honor men who nurture, provide, and love children.

When you are done, consider asking more questions, but personal ones to your dads to learn more about them, their likes/dislikes, fears, funnies, history, favorite memories, and dreams for the future.


1. Who do the “Founding Fathers” of our country refer to?

2. Who is known as the current “Holy Father” according to the Roman Catholic Church?

3. Roses are the official flower for Father’s Day. A red rose is worn in the lapel if your father is living, and this color rose if he is deceased.

4. Who is known to have initiated the Father’s Day celebrations, or who is called “The Mother of Father’s Day”?

5. In the USA, Father’s Day is celebrated on this day.

6. Who is the “Father” of our country?

7. Father’s Day the fourth-largest card-sending occasion with this many cards given out last year.

a. 80 million

b. 60 million

c. 95 million

d. 150 million

8. “Father Time” is also known by this name.

9. In Greek Mythology, this King of Thebes killed his father and married his mother. His name has become synonymous for this hidden desire to do the same to one’s parents.

10. The myth of “Father Christmas” has been taken from this country.

a. Denmark

b. Sweden

c. The Netherlands

d. Germany

11. Name the top 5 gifts for Father’s Day (besides a card).

12. This 1950’s TV show about fatherhood starred actor Robert Young.

a. “Father Knows Best”

b. “Father Does Best”

c. “Father Loves Best”

d. “Father Laughs Best”

13. Which actor voiced the famous movie line, “Luke, I am your father”?

14. According to Greek mythology, who was the father of gods and mortals?

15. Who was the famous literary father of the young girl nicknamed “Scout”?

16. Who was the father of Disney’s Arial, the Little Mermaid?

17. Which President signed into law that Father’s Day would be nationally recognized?

a. Woodrow Wilson

b. Richard Nixon

c. Theodore Roosevelt

d. John F. Kennedy

18. What is the word for “father” in these languages?









19. This 1991 movie called “Father of the Bride” starred this comedian.

20. What famous evangelist said this: “A good father is one of the most unsung, upraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”


1. Those at the 1776 Philadelphia convention who signed the Declaration of Independence.

2. Pope Francis

3. White

4. Sonara Smart Dodd, daughter of a Civil War veteran, who wanted to honor her father.

5. The Third Sunday of June

6. George Washington

7. c. 95 million

8. The Grim Reaper

9. Oedipus Complex

10. c. The Netherlands

11. Necktie/clothing, tools, sporting goods, electronics, candy

12. a. “Father Knows Best”

13. James Earl Jones

14. Zeus

15. Atticus Finch

16. King Triton

17. b. Richard Nixon

18. Afrikaans : vader

Arabic : babba

French : papa

Hungarian : apa

Italian : babbo

Polish : tata

Spanish : papá

Welsh : tad

19. Steve Martin

20. Billy Graham

Back to Basics

Being raised with a small farm and a big work ethic, I have always appreciated how a back-to-basics approach to parenting is the answer to what ills many families today.

Simplifying our over-complicated, over-stimulated lives is what children need.

They need to count the stars, find shapes in clouds, run their hands through shifting mud, make shapes in the sand, listen to birds calling their young, and count their footsteps through pastures and fields.

Children with very little are rarely poor; it is those with too much who are creatively poor, who lack imagination and are short on grit.

Watch this insightful video that beautifully contrasts “The Poorness in our Wealth.”

mean mom

Behind every great kid is a pushy parent

Here’s a link to a revised version of this article that was published by

When I was young, my mom required that all 5 children learn to swim until they could pass the Jr. Lifesaving class. I hated it. I hated water and the smell of chlorine. I hated diving for those weighted rings.

I looked up at my mother sitting in the spectator balcony and glared at her whenever I could. My body language clearly stated, “I can’t believe you are making me do this. You are the meanest mom in the world.” She just smiled back and waved at me.

About the time I was enrolled in the Jr. Lifesaving class, the movie “Jaws” came out. By today’s movie-making standards, the special effects are cheesy, but to my 11-year-old, fearful-of-anything aquatic, impressionable brain, it was horrifying. I couldn’t put my head under water (let alone take a bath) after seeing the film. When the swim instructors lined us up behind the diving board and it was my turn to arch over the horizontal bamboo stick to dive into the water, I couldn’t do it. I stared into the deep, blue abyss and could only see a set of teeth on a open shark’s mouth, waiting for me to dive into its hungry cavity.

I couldn’t do it. It was humiliating and traumatic.

But my mom didn’t seem to care no matter how much I whined and crumpled on the floor. She wanted me to pass the class since she had almost drowned as a girl and her lifesaving skills saved her. I eventually passed the class and never looked at another swimming pool for a long time.

Fast forward.

I now swim multiple times a week for exercise. You heard me right. I choose to swim for fun. I love it. Every time I get in the pool, I look up into the empty balcony bleachers with a smile and think, “Thank you mom, for not giving up on me.”

Being  a “pushy” mom or dad requires True Grit. Courage. Fortitude. A Backbone. When life gets hard, kids tend to give up. If we insist they stick with it, we are called “mean.”  Someone wrote, “My kids just told me I’m the meanest mom in the world and I’m freaking out. I don’t even have a speech prepared.” Parents! If your child hates you for something that is really, really good for them, take a bow, accept the nomination, and thank your audience. 

Parents raise successful kids by being pushy in these three ways:

Push Toward Good.

I once knew a parent who buckled under their 5 year old who refused to take his prescribed medicine. Some things are hard, some things don’t taste good, some things are boring (like brushing our teeth), and some things hurt (like getting immunized) but we insist our children do it anyway because it is good for them.  

My sister has taught voice and piano for 30 years and out of the hundreds of students, only two loved to practice. The rest think it’s hard and boring. Many kids dropped playing the piano after the first year. Those who became good were not prodigies or genius musicians; they had pushy parents who made them practice 5 days a week, year after year.

Recently, I helped my daughter register at a university. However, she became anxious and lacked confidence to navigate a new campus. As we sat with her adviser, fear took over. I realized I needed to not only reassure her, but to push.

Adviser: So what is your major?

Daughter: (shoulders slumped, eyes down) I don’t know.

Me: Integrated Studies.

Adviser: (wondering who is this pushy mom) So what will be your two areas of emphasis?

Daughter: I’m not sure.

Me: She declared Spanish and Business.

Adviser (looking directly at my daughter so I didn’t butt in) Will you start Summer of Fall?

Daughter: I don’t know.

Me: (pausing first before butting in) She’ll start Summer.

Adviser: (giving me the stink eye and then turning to my daughter) Do you have your transcript?

Daughter: Yes, but I don’t know how to download it.

I stayed out from that point on, but I’m telling you, we sometimes have to hold our kids hands and baby step them toward the unknown, scary future.  To that adviser: Don’t judge.

Push Away from Bad.

Children have a lot of choices these days and they’re not all good. Some may seem good  but turn into problems if there are not diligent parents afoot. It’s okay to tell your young child they don’t need a cell phone with Wifi or unlimited data. It’s okay to push away bad media programming that infiltrates our homes and electronic devices. A wave of filth is threatening families but we can push it away. Say “no” to children who tell you everyone else’s parents are letting them do it.

Tell them you love them more than that.

Push Back from Pressure.

Unlike many children, there are superstar kids who excel at everything and want to do it all. They overbook their lives, or their parents overbook it for them, to achieve greatness and an impressive resume. There is so much pressure to raise trophy children and compete with over-achieving friends.

Raising a great kid who is successful means they lead a balanced, happy, well adjusted life. Children need a childhood. They need play time, laugh time, creative and social time. If your child wants to be the drummer in a rock band, be on the high school basketball, swim, and baseball teams, be student body president, and sing in the prestigious school choir, it’s time to push back. Life is full of great things to do, but we need to teach our children that it’s not realistic or healthy to try to do it all. We all need to learn how to choose and prioritize.


So if you are a pushy parent, take it as a compliment. You know that you’re doing something right and you’re in good company.


Pregnancy Myth Busters

You’ve heard of the kid TV series “Myth Busters” right? One of those fun, educational shows where the group of geeks try out myths to see if they are real or not. Well, there are a lot of myths, legends, wives tales, whatever you want to call them, floating around about pregnancy. Everyone’s got advice and some crazy story about how to predict the gender.

It think it’s because pregnancy itself is so mysterious. What is really happening inside the womb and to the mother’s body? Is it a boy or a girl? Why am I so sick with this second pregnancy, but not the first? We all want answers!

Well I am speaking about which myths about pregnancy are true and which are not on BYU radio on the Matt Townsend show on Tues, April 19th. Here’s a sneak peak.  See how well you score and be sure to tell others what an expert you are now (not!)

Predicting gender: if you are carrying your baby high, it’s a girl. Carrying low? Stock up on blue. False.

Craving sweets? According to some, that means you’re going to have a little girl. Salty and sour cravings indicate a boy. False again. Predicting gender is never a trustworthy science, unless of course that involves an ultrasound.

You can’t get pregnant while nursing. False, mostly. Although nursing decreases the chance of ovulation, it doesn’t guarantee it. And there’s nothing more shocking than a new mother of a 5 month old who finds out she’s pregnant…again!

You shouldn’t have sex while pregnant because you might harm the baby.

False unless you have a specific medical condition and your doctor warns you against it.

You shouldn’t take hot baths while pregnant.

True, actually. You should avoid saunas, Jacuzzis or anything that raises your body temperature over 102 degrees. But you can take a bath in warm or slightly hot water. Some people even naively think that they can’t take a bath at all, that it will drown the baby! That’s another myth I’d like to bust right here.

You should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

True, although some studies have shown that up to 2 glasses of wine per day is not harmful. However, most doctors will tell new mothers to be on the safe side and abstain.

You will crave pickles and ice cream.

No. But cravings can occur, and are usually harmless. Husbands: be prepared for the Big Mac midnight runs. (At least mine had to on more than one occasion).

Cravings mean your baby “needs” that food. False. There are, however, some women who crave laundry detergent, paint chips, or clay. These odd cravings (called pica) have been associated with iron deficiency and you should talk to your doctor immediately if you experience them.

Gender predictor: if you mixes Drano with urine, it can determine the sex of your baby. The prediction is if you pour it down the toilet, and it turns blue, you have a boy; pink, it’s a girl. False. There’s another myth down the drain. I think this myth originated with the Drano Company to increase profits.

A fetus is sealed away in the uterus, unaffected by what’s going on outside. False. A baby can feel the stress from the environment and become distressed as well. It can detect sounds and emotions as well as ingest chemicals from tobacco and drug use.

Going to prenatal check ups is extremely important.

Yes, yes, and yes! Don’t skip this essential part of pregnancy. A doctor’s supervision might just be the key to your baby’s survival, health, and even your health. You’ll be checked for gestational diabetes, get a few ultrasounds to detect the development of the baby, and monitor any prescription drugs you are taking that might affect the fetus.

Your water always breaks when you go into labor and will gush like a faucet.

Nope. It doesn’t always break before and sometimes it’s just a trickle you don’t even notice.

The pregnant couple will sometimes feel disconnected and disoriented to one another.

True, and if not, it may happen shortly after becoming new parents.

Having wide, curvy hips make child birthing easier.

False.  It’s the size of the pelvis, not hips.

Drinking castor oil, eating spicy food or jumping on a trampoline will kick-start labor.

False. Sorry. The baby will come when it is good and ready.

Pregnant women should avoid exercise.

False. Sorry again. Exercise is actually very good for the baby and mom, but should be done moderately and with a doctor’s approval.

The second birth will be easier.

True, but not always. Still, it’s a nice thought when considering having more than one child.

You will feel an instant bond with your newborn baby.

False. New mothers and fathers may not naturally feel a euphoric sense of love and connection with their baby. Don’t worry if that is the case. Give it time. If post-partum sets in, see a doctor.

Couples should wait at least 6 weeks after childbirth to have sex.

True. Have fun.


6 ways parents can improve their listening skills

This was my first time being interviewed by someone from Utah Valley 360 magazine. It’s always cool when someone calls you up out of the blue, unexpected, and says they want to interview you for their upcoming article.

Well, here it is. And I think Natalie did a nice job with the article. Published on February 29, 2016

If you feel like your kids hardly listen to a word you say, take heart. Children and teens ignoring their parents is a universal problem as old as parenting itself. But before you put all the blame on your offspring, consider whether your listening skills could stand to be improved. Try these six tips for improving your listening ear:

  1. Stop multitasking and pay attention.

Our brain doesn’t have the capacity to fully attend to two things at once, so it’s difficult to listen well when doing another task that requires your attention. Doing the dishes and helping a child with homework? Sure. But scrolling Instagram while listening to your daughter explain her school project? It’s likely you’ll miss important details. “It’s really important that we select moments of the day where we close all those tabs we have open in our brain,” says Julie K. Nelson, an applied parenting instructor at UVU and author of two books on parenting, including “Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 tips for surviving parenthood” (Cedar Fort, March 2015). “We need to say to our child, ‘Right now, you are my world.’ Half listening will not build trust or confidence in coming to us when they need to talk.”

  1. Take it one kid at a time.

Do your best to listen to one child at a time. If interrupting and talking over each other is a problem at your house, Nelson suggests telling your kids that you are going to listen to all of them but only one at a time. “Put your arm around the child and say, ‘I’m here for you but right now we are going to listen to Stacey first and it will be your turn next,’” she suggests. Give them a physical cue, such as holding their hand or putting a hand on their shoulder, to let them know you see them but give your full attention to the child speaking. If a child whines or demands attention, ignore it as best you can. “When you are finished listening to one child, turn to the other child and say, ‘Thank you for being so respectful. Now it’s your turn.’”

  1. Listen on their level.

Adults appreciate eye contact during an conversation, and kids are no different. Nelson suggest talking to kids at their level for the most effective communication. “If we do want to get a child to listen to us, it’s so important there is not an imbalance of power. At your full stature, children don’t listen to you when they are looking at your navel.” Younger kids appreciate when you get down on one knee to hear and see what they are saying. For teens, try sitting on a couch to chat.

  1. Go on sabbatical from offering your opinion.

If it’s a challenge to keep your mouth shut when you should be listening to your child or teen, try this challenge: For one week, resist the urge to offer your opinion unless expressly asked for it. Listening with the intent to simply listen, instead of listening with the intent to reply, Nelson says. “When we do listen to someone we should be very careful that we don’t try to finish their sentence for them or come up with a rebuttal or response,” Nelson says. If they do ask for an opinion, let them know you’ll think about it rather than jumping in with your expert advice.

  1. Practice active listening.

If you need to clarify what someone is saying, repeat what you heard back to them. Try, “What I’m hearing you saying is this; is that correct?” Let the speaker validate whether or not you got it right. Then continue listening without judgment or fixing. Most of the time, people just want to be heard.

  1. Quit topping the story.

If your child is complaining about their struggles at school, it can be tempting to hijack the conversation with stories of your childhood success or examples of what other siblings have done. They don’t really need to hear about everything you did when you were a kid, Nelson says — even if you’re commiserating —  they just want to you listen to them. So stop topping their stories and simply offer yourself as a resource. “Tell them, ‘I’m sure you’ll come up with a great solution to that.’ Empower them … let them come up with solutions on their own. They need to know you’re not the higher power in their life that always sweeps in and solves things,” she says.

For a link to the origional article in Utah Valley 360 magazine:


International Women’s Day and Gaslighting

Post script: I was interviewed in BYU radio about this topic so if you’d rather hear than read about it, here’s the link to stream it. 

Today, March 8th 2016, is International Women’s Day. Although we barely recognize it as a holiday in the U.S., apparently it is a big deal in other countries. My daughter is living in Russia, and she has been advised to stay off the streets yesterday and today to protect herself from all the drunken celebrations.

So, in my own way, I’d like to celebrate women (without the drunkenness). One of the best ways I can think of is to empower women who feel they have lost their voice. Who feel they are of no worth. Who are victims in domestic violence.

What happens in the home is the tutor for future generational relationships. There is a strong correlation in research between those who witness or experience abuse during childhood and subsequent violence toward children in adulthood.

Approximately 15.5 million American children living in a 2-parent household are exposed to partner violence within the past year.  Approximately 7 million of these children witness severe partner abuse such as being beat up, choked, burned, or life threatened with gun or knife. Women are more often the victims.

Today’s households more frequently consist of persons who are not related (such as a romantic partner) and these relationships tend to increase violent behavior. Not surprisingly, adults involved in interparental violence frequently have poor parenting skills.  Mothers are distracted by basic issues of safety and survival.

Today, I want to highlight “Gaslighting” or emotional manipulation, as one of the main types of domestic violence. It is often the overlooked one because it is not a tangible form of abuse. The term is based on the movie “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman who is brainwashed and manipulated by her husband and starts questioning her sanity. Men are more commonly the abuser, as depicted in this movie.

The spouse says, “You’re crazy. You’re worthless. You’re a terrible wife and a whore.” The victim may not believe that about herself to begin with, but after so much time, it becomes part of the picture of her self worth.  Physical abuse leaves scars that are evidence of abuse. But emotional abuse leaves scars that often never heal and don’t leave any proof that she is victimized.

So the victim starts to question reality. Her whole self concept comes from her spouse.

Robert Stern, from Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence, stated, “When the person you love persistently tries to redefine your reality and nothing you do or say makes a difference, you begin to see yourself through their eyes. Maybe I am forgetful. Maybe I am stupid. Maybe I am crazy. You start mistrusting or second-guessing yourself.”

Who would ever date, or even marry someone who is so despicable, you ask. Well, an abuser rarely starts that way. He or she is usually very charming. Very doting on the partner, buying her gifts and showering her with words and tokens of love. She begins to depend on these acts as “signs” of his love. He wants to know her every move, not out of anything manipulative, she thinks, but because he loves me so much and needs me every hour of the day.

Hogwash, I say. This is just behavior of a future stalker.

Anyone who says he can’t live without you needs to live without you.

And so the path to gaslighting starts with control and isolation, even while dating. He convinces his wife to quit her job or sabotages her so she has to quit or get fired. He often gets her to move away from family and friends or makes her choose between them and him. “Your mother never liked me. How can you stand to be around her when she disapproves of our relationship? You’re better off without her.”

An example of one husband is when he kept calling his wife when she’s out with friends with excuses like something was wrong with their daughter. She’d rush back and he’s say, “You’re home so early. Were you not having fun?” The wife said, “On one level, I knew I wasn’t crazy, but he wore me down. After a few years, I felt totally hopeless and worthless. He was literally destroying me. I started to feel like suicide was my only way out.”

Abusers use jealousy a LOT to control. They twist “love” by saying they don’t want their wife out with others because they love her so much and don’t want to lose her. He frequently texts and calls and demands to know where she is. During dating, she thought this was flattering because she was so important to him.

Now, it’s become a dependency chain he’s carefully wrapped around her throat.

Belongings and personal items start to disappear and the abuser will blame it on her absent mindedness or forgetfulness. He often brandishes weapons as a sign of intimidation and control. “You never know when I might need to use this.”  Or he keeps a weapon under his pillow so it’s nearby, always in her mind.

Often gaslighting is accompanied with physical and sexual abuse, but not always.

Why don’t women just leave, is the most common response by those on the “outside” looking in. The partner has so severely eroded his wife’s self esteem she feels she can no longer function outside the controlling abusive partner. It takes about 7 attempts to leave before an abused partner finally breaks free for good.

Women who don’t want to lose their children will stay in abusive relationships. Especially those who are only emotionally abused have no proof, not documentation, to show judge or lawyer and vindicate themselves. The abuser will threaten his wife by telling her if she ever leaves, he will take the children by showing she is mentally unfit to be a mother.

Or he’ll tell her if she ever leaves him, he will kill himself, her, or the kids. So she stays out of guilt and fear.

Another might be religion. Partners who attend organized religion stay together in abuse marriages longer. A husband may use religious dominance to justify his emotional control. “God gave you to me; you belong to me and you need to do as I say.” They tell the wife to stop seeing her family because the Bible says to “leave mother and father and cleave unto your spouse.” One wife admitted, “I was like his slave, sexually and physically. But I hid it because I was embarrassed and I didn’t want the marriage to fail.”

Finally, a big reason is money. He has controlled everything. Financial abuse is estimated to be in about 99% of emotional control cases. Some make their partner account for every penny, or only give them an “allowance” if they do some extraordinary act set up by the abuser (for example, she has to get on scale and lose a certain amount of weight) or they run down the wife’s credit rating so she is trapped.

Ginny Graves, author, of an article called “How I Broke Free” with stories of 6 survivors, shares 5 money tips to help protect the abused partner. So I’ll end with these tips to empower women everywhere in the world.

  1. Maintain full access to all credit cards, bank accounts, etc.
  2. Make all money decisions jointly.
  3. Get individual credit cards.
  4. Know S.S. and bank account numbers of you and your children.
  5. Be alert to emotional abuse signs regarding money matters.

Happy Women’s Day. And may it truly be a happy day for all women.


What to do with a crying baby, as well as many other syndicated online news outlets, picked up the article I wrote (below) on my website. It even got translated into Spanish. Que bueno! At the end of the article, KSL inserted a voting poll for which method worked wonders for your crying baby:

Infant massage
Stroller or Car ride
A special “Hold”
White noise

The article got a lot of comments and viewers (over 6,500 to date!) so I’m pleased people are talking about this important issue. Parenting a newborn can be stressful! Here’s the link if you want to see it published:

I’d like to call attention to a little-known form of child abuse. Unlike other types of abuse, this one is usually not done intentionally or out of malicious intent. In fact, the abusing adult may be a caring, normal person like you or me. But in one moment, that can all change.

It happens when a baby cries uncontrollably and the caregiver becomes impatient and starts shaking the baby out of frustration.


Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when adults, frustrated and angry with an infant, shakes them violently. It is also known as “Abusive Head Trauma” and is the most common type of infant abuse. A caregiver momentarily succumbs to the frustration of responding to a crying baby by shaking.

It is important that parents and caregivers know the dangers of shaking. Let’s make others aware of this danger just like SIDS. They also need to tell everyone who cares for the baby, that it is NEVER okay to shake the baby.

Why Is Shaking a Baby A Danger?

A baby’s neck is too weak to support their heavy head.Consequently, when shaken, their head flops back and forth, causing serious brain injury.


A baby’s brain and the blood vessels connecting the skull to the brain are fragile and immature.Therefore, when a baby is shaken, the brain ricochets about their skull, causing the blood vessels to tear away and blood to pool inside their skull causing irreparable damage to the brain or retinal detachment.

If found to be guilty, a the adult can be prosecuted for child abuse in the first degree and imprisoned.

So what do we do with a crying baby?

I’ve  taken care of my fair share of inconsolable infants. You have to wonder at a newborn with such tiny lungs who can produce so much sound! I raised five children and some were just fussier than others. Some, in particular, chose the evening and early morning hours to be the most colicky. Exactly the time when I was most exhausted, stressed, and frustrated. Those early morning hours can be the perfect storm for a parent to lose their patience. I’d like to offer a list of things to do when you can’t get the baby to calm down.

Take the baby for a walk outside in a stroller or for a ride in the car seat. When the baby is in another device and your hands are wrapped around the handle or a steering wheel, you are physically removed from holding/hurting the baby. It gives you distance, emotionally and physically. These two activities also have a calming effect because the purr of the engine or gentle rocking of the stroller.

Hold the baby against your chest and gently massage the baby. Massaging a baby has this calming effect on you because you are stroking yourself as well.

Rock, walk, or dance with the baby. Soft music can calm you and the infant.

Be patient; take a deep breath and count to ten. Or a hundred.

Call a friend or relative that you can trust to take over for a while, then get away, get some rest, take care of yourself.

Wrap up the baby tightly or give a warm bath.  Even if the baby doesn’t like to be bathed, I can almost guarantee that a properly swaddled infant will calm down.

Lower any surrounding noise and lights.

Hold the baby and breathe slowly and calmly; the baby may feel your calmness and become quiet. If you are agitated, most likely the baby will be too.

Sing or talk to the baby using soothing tones.

Record a sound, like a vacuum cleaner, or hair dryer and play it. White noise. There are even CDs and other audio players that play these sounds…even the “womb” noises.

See a doctor to check out physiological problems (i.e. acid reflux, lactose intolerance)


That was my list. Now here is the 5 S’s that Dr. Harvey uses to effectively pacify a crying baby. He found a 98% success rate using these. They imitate babies’ experience inside the uterus.

1.Sucking (pacifier)

2.Swaddling (arms down, tightly fitted with a large receiving blanket)

3.Side/Stomach position (hold them, not put them down in this position)

4.Shushing (a loud, but controlled shushing sound in their ear)

5.Swinging (small quiver-like movements)

So next time your baby exercises her lungs tirelessly, try out these 5 steps and let me know how they work. Blessings to you all for doing your best during these sleep-deprived years.