Thumb-Sucking and Other Baby Soothing Techniques

Thumb-sucking soothingThumb-sucking isn’t just a quirky behavior of babies and young children. It’s actually vital to healthy early childhood development. Here’s why it’s acceptable for your baby to do it.

Why your baby sucks her thumb

Sucking is an instinctive behavior for newborns. You may be tempted to discourage thumb-sucking to prevent your baby’s teeth from coming in crooked, but it’s better to let her indulge in the habit for now. It teaches her the valuable skill of self-soothing, bringing her comfort when she’s tired or unsettled.

If you can wean your baby off thumb-sucking by age 4, when permanent teeth come in, it won’t affect her pearly whites. In the short term, the ability to self-comfort will help your baby fall asleep faster, as well as fall back to sleep on her own after waking at night.

Other baby soothing techniques that work

Most babies experience crying jags, often in the late afternoon. First, check to make sure your baby’s cries are not a sign that she’s hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. Don’t fret if you can’t seem to find a reason: Baby crying doesn’t always mean something is wrong. It can be a normal part of baby development, caused by a maturing nervous system.

If sucking on fingers or a pacifier doesn’t seem to console your baby, try these soothing techniques:

Gently rock your baby

Softly sing to her

Swaddle your baby

Place her in a front carrier or infant swing

The more upset your baby is, the harder it may be for you, but try to stay calm. Remember to rest when your baby sleeps, and be sure to eat regularly. You’ll be better able to take care of your baby once you’ve taken care of yourself.

NHTSA Proposes Side-Impact Crash Testing for Car Seats

Napping in the back seatOn January 22nd, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) filed for proposed changes to the federal motor vehicle safety standards for child-restraint systems. For the first time, the changes would require side-impact crash testing on all car seats sold in the US for children weighing up to 40lbs.

Until now, federal rules have only covered how well car seats protect children in crashes from the front. But, as seen in a NY Times discussion of the proposed changes, “according to Matthew R. Maltese, head of biomechanics research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, side-impact crashes can hurt children in a variety of ways. While the door can intrude and strike a child in a car seat, the sheer impact of a collision can cause a child’s head to move suddenly and hit the seat or a part of the vehicle’s interior.” Now, for the first time, we are taking positive steps to prevent this.

According to the NHTSA press release, “car seats would be tested in a specially designed sled test that simulates a “T-bone” crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 30mph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 15mph.” Also new to this test: a recently developed side-impact crash test dummy that represents a 3-year old child will be used in addition to the existing 12 month-old child dummy.

The goal of the proposed test will be for car seats to demonstrate that they can safely protect a child from harmful head contact with a crushed vehicle door as well as reduce the overall impact of the crash forces on a child’s head and chest. NHTSA estimates that making this change would save 5 lives and prevent 64 injuries annually.

If the proposal is adopted, there would be a 3-year time-frame after final rule publication for car-seat manufacturers to alter or adjust their products to meet the new requirements. And then it will likely be up to consumers to purchase a new car seat to replace their existing one. For now, NHTSA has posted its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (in .pdf form) which provides 90 days for members of the general public to comment.

On a final note – my personal belief is that this is way overdue – and with 5 lives and 64 injuries experienced by children annually, a 3-year time-frame to meet the new requirements is 3-years too long. One preventable death is by far one too many. Would love to hear your thoughts…

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 01-20-2014 to 01-26-2014

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:
The Secret Tumblr Craze and What Parents Need to Know

Parents…Do You Know What Drowning Looks Like??

Drowning is silent“Help! Help! I’m drowning! Someone help me!” Arms flailing, screaming, these are your cues when someone is drowning. Right? Wrong.

In the depths of a brutally cold winter, drowning is probably the last thing on your mind. Frostbite, probably. House-bound insanity with kids, yes. Booking a spring break trip someplace warm or fantasizing about some beach/pool time when warmer weather arrives? Absolutely! Since you may not have many opportunities to be at the pool or beach right now, it’s the perfect time to take a few minutes over your coffee to read up on why drowning doesn’t look like drowning so that when you do make that blissful plunge into warm water your entire family is safer.

Drowning is completely silent and unless you are looking for the signs, you wouldn’t recognize that someone was drowning, even your own child, three feet away from you, while you stayed carefully in arm’s reach.

When someone is drowning, the most immediate way of recognizing the problem is that they may look like they are climbing a ladder. Their head is just below the surface, they are vertical in the water, they are probably looking upright and their arms may be moving as if they are climbing a ladder. And it is silent. No yelling. If someone is yelling for help, they may be out of their depth and you should, of course, call a lifeguard for help, but it’s the silent ones who are in the most trouble and need immediate aid.

As a parent, you know that hearing total silence from your child is your first clue that something isn’t right. Either they are up to no good, or something is wrong. The same applies in the water. If you can’t hear them, they are probably in trouble.

If you do see someone in distress but not yet underwater, let a lifeguard know – and remember, always swim near a lifeguard. If there is no lifeguard around, know to Reach, Throw, Row but Don’t Go!

For more information on what drowning really looks like, I highly recommend this article.

Water is the most fun you can have with your child, as long as you know how to be safe around it.


Editor’s Note: we first ran this post in July of 2009 not long after easidream’s creation. It will officially be available to purchase this summer so we thought we’d take this opportunity to share it with you again.


Hello, I’m Lynda, mum to six lovable and lively children and inventor of easidream®

When my sixth child, Bradley was born, he cried constantly and it was a nightly struggle to settle him to sleep…a struggle that went on until he was two and a half years old! I tried everything to soothe him off to sleep, but I discovered that the most reliable way was to lean over the cot sides and create a ‘rocking cot’ motion by moving the mattress up and down. Having scoured shops and the internet for any product that would replicate this movement (and relieve my backache!), I realised that there was nothing suitable out there, so I went on to take the ‘massive step’ of developing a product of my own – easidream® crib

Easidream cribFor the next few years I researched the problem as deeply as possible, canvassing valuable input from sleep experts, university departments and medical professionals like midwives, child psychologists and paediatricians. I also consulted with the baby care industry and product design teams and, of course, surveyed many parents with young babies. At last, after a 7-year gestation easidream® was born!

The finished product has been meticulously designed and researched. I considered it was essential for easidream® to undergo proper scientific trials to validate its efficiency… it was no good just me saying it worked, I needed to be 100% sure that it did! I embarked on a year long period of research in conjunction with University of Brighton medical experts, which involved testing both the moving platform and the soothing sounds on a wide selection of babies. These studies not only revealed just how effective easidream® was at promoting healthy sleep patterns, but also showed that it encourages parents to adopt safe sleep practices.

The findings revealed:

  • Average crying time on easidream® was reduced from 18 minutes to less than 1 minute
  • All of the babies that took part in the trials remained happily settled on their backs; great news in respect of SIDS
  • Time to settle to sleep in some cases was reduced by up to 95%

We all know that when a new baby arrives, uninterrupted sleep is rare and we have to adapt to shorter, broken nights and savour every moment of sleep we can catch. But although we think our bodies are coping with just a few ‘catnaps’ a night, continuous lack of sleep eventually catches up on us all; it’s vitally important that we understand just how crucial sleep is to the whole family’s well being… not just for healthy child development, but also for the general health and well being of everyone in the household. Did you know that it has been proven that well rested children develop faster, are healthier and have fewer behavioural problems? With adults, lack of sleep has been proven to affect both memory and cognitive skills…. What more can I say? I was determined to invent a product that would not only help soothe particularly fractious babies, but also promote the formation of a healthy sleep pattern, so both babies and parents could benefit from a good night’s rest.

easidream® actually assists in encouraging the formation of a healthy sleep pattern plus it encourages babies to self settle on their back in the cot, which is great news in the fight against SIDS. It also solves the problem of sleep deprivation for the whole family by rewarding them with those valuable hours of sleep they so richly deserve. End result: happy, healthier babies and happy, healthier parents!


1. Putting babies to sleep

  • Make sure you place your baby with their feet at the foot of the cot (but not touching the end of the cot) , to reduce the likelihood of the baby wriggling down and becoming overheated underneath any cot bedding, which may end up over the baby’s head. Overheating has been shown to greatly increase the likelihood of a SIDS related incident occurring.
  • Also, remove soft toys from the cot, as they too could increase your baby’s temperature to an unsafe level. This is why ewan, our dream sheep, is secured to the cot bars and not positioned directly in line with your baby’s head, just in case he becomes detached – although this is extremely unlikely! (Some of our website shots are at an angle that may look like ewan is close to the head, but I can assure you he’s not!)
  • Always ensure your baby is placed to sleep on their back; again this is incredibly important in reducing the likelihood of a SIDS incident occurring. (The beauty of easidream® is that it has been proven to actually help baby’s settle to sleep on their backs and so parents are more likely to follow the recommended safe sleep guidelines.)
  • While all of this is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for Safe Sleeping , each baby is unique. Always remember to ask your doctor what’s best for your baby’s sleep.

2. If they wake up or refuse to sleep:

  • …it is extremely important that you go and check your baby to determine the reason why. We have spent a great deal of time researching this particular area and having consulted medical professionals, and it is why we decided against having an automatic sound activated feature or a remote control that would “restart” the soother. As this is such a vulnerable age group, we consider it vitally important that parents return to their baby to remedy any problem – dirty nappy, thirsty, hungry etc. For healthy, happy sleep times we believe that interaction with your baby is vital and we strongly encourage this practise.

Pediatric Safety Announcement: Welcome Dr. Michele Borba!

Michele Borba expert-picPlease join us in welcoming our new Child Psychology and Bullying Prevention Expert Dr. Michele Borba to the PedSafe Expert Team!