If You Have a Baby, You Need This in Your Toolkit

I stumbled across this old ring of index cards when I was rummaging through our basement last week. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this little ring changed my life. The idea is genius, and I just know some of you need to make one of your own.

A Survival Guide for Fussy Babies

This little ring holds 6 index cards that are full of strategies for keeping our fussy son happy. My son’s therapists helped me choose some coping strategies to write on the cards–personalized for my child–and I clipped the ring to his diaper bag. It went with him everywhere.

Before I put together this little guide, my little guy wasn’t happy in the care of others. These personalized tips helped the caregivers know exactly what to do when my son was unhappy. The caregivers were happier because they knew what to do when he was upset, and my son was happier because he was getting the input he needed to stay calm and comfortable in his little world.

How It’s Made

The card are laminated (this is the laminator we have at home, or you can head to someplace like Staples, Office Depot, or Kinko’s for that). I punched holes in them and threaded them on to a metal ring. (A keychain would also work.)

The ring can be personalized based on context: you can add or remove cards depending on where you’ll be, you can add a bedtime routine, food instructions, whatever. Our cards were full of information for coping with sensory processing disorder, as you can see.

The following activities suggested by Jack’s therapists have helped us keep him calm, organized and happy.
Body Language: When Jack is having a hard time staying organized, he may be calmed and comforted if you:
Drop your voice–whisper or speak quietly and slowly.
Drop your body–Jack relaxes when other people are on his level. Try getting down on the floor with him, or, alternatively, boost him up into your arms.
Deep Pressure: Deep Pressure served to organize Jack and help his neurological system function better:
Firm, long hugs.
Make a “Jack sandwich” using pillows.
Firm massage.
Bouncing on a ball (with adult help).
Being held upside down for 5 seconds at a time.
These activities are calming for Jack.
Swinging: Jack loves to swing! It really gets his little system working smoothly. He is only so-so on wind-up baby swans; he prefers swinging side to side, and he likes vigorous swinging.
Try holding him under his armpits and swinging him back and forth like a pendulum. Set him down to give your arms a break, and repeat. Swinging and singing make a great combo!
Spinning: Another therapeutic activity. Spinning is very calming and very organizing for Jack.
Sit-n-spin (with close supervision). Spin him clockwise for 15 seconds, then counterclockwise for 15 seconds. Repeat.
Hold Jack in your arms and whirl in circles. You’ll get dizzy before he does! Combine with singing and bouncing.

What I’d Do Differently

I’d change a few things f I were making a new ring today: I’d give a little more information about my son and sensory processing disorder, and explain more what I meant by “organized.” I’d include his age and weight on the card. And I’d be sure to put a great big Thank You in there somewhere.

Do you have experience with calming fussy babies (yours or someone else’s)? What’s your best tip?

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  1. Tim says:

    That looks like a really helpful tool for your son and for those who watch him. We do a lot of childcare for our friends with young families, and this type of thing would be very welcome with any child.

    On a slightly different note, when we would take our own kids out to eat we had what we called The Restaurant Bag. As you might imagine, it was principally for restaurants. It had crayons and coloring books and small puzzles and scratch paper and other activities that one or two could take part in. This was really handy when we’d sit down at a table and the service would be a little slow. It gave us all something to do, coloring with the kids or helping them with puzzles. When the food arrived, the crayons, etc., went back in the bag.

    As they got older the restaurant bag started staying at home, but by that time the kids had the skills they needed to behave properly in a restaurant. I wish I could take credit, but this was entirely my wife’s idea. She’s got a million of them.


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