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Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

I know what you’re thinking.

I touch my baby all the time and it doesn’t seem all “magical”
when he’s screaming his head off at 10pm at night.  

Ahhh….but there are different types of touch. Are you sure you’re using the right kind?

If I had a mustache, I’d twirl it because I’m about to blow your mind with a magic trick.  And not just any magic trick! It’s a trick you can replicate at home over and over and over again.

Now, whether you want your Hubby to put on the fishnet hose, tux tails, top hat and Vanna-White this wizardry is entirely up to you. (If you do, though, please send me a video.)

Obviously touching your baby isn’t going to soothe your baby ALL the time, or I’d have my own TV show by now.  It is, however, a great place to start on your soothing checklist!

What Touch Has to Do
With Baby Self Soothing

When I say “touch your baby,” I don’t mean move him from the car seat to the bouncy chair.

I mean cuddle time.  Forehead kisses.  Cheek strokes.  Tummy raspberries.  Bottom pats.

Several studies (check out my citations below) have shown that children who are denied physical and emotional attention in the first year are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems as they grow up.

When babies are touched, their brain sends a happy message to the portion of their brain (Mr. Pituitary Gland) to start producing Oxytocin and stop creating Cortisol. 

Cortisol: The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is the Burt Wonderstone of your baby’s sleep.  A dud.  Sure, you can invite him to the party, but his tricks are going to cost you.  He makes it much much harder for your baby to fall into a sleeping trance.

This hormone gets him all riled up, and makes self-soothing almost impossible.  

Oxytocin: The Hug Hormone, the Cuddle Chemical

When you pick up your child, her brain is literally flooded over with this elixir of bliss, soothing and calming. It’s why picking up a crying child is the fastest way to soothe them.

It’s also why if you wait too long, picking up does nothing. Why? Because Mr. Pituitary Gland isn’t making oxytocin anymore.  He’s switched over to cortisol.  Your baby is stressed and isn’t going to soothe easily.

You’ve Got a Parenting Problem

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned here:

Touching Your Baby = Soothing Power Ups

Seems easy, right?

Except that it’s not. 

  • Do you ever have to put your baby down?
  • Do you want to eventually sleep in your bed without a co-sleeper?
  • Do you want to not stand next to your baby for every naptime?

It’s awesome that we can soothe our children and boost their physical, emotional, and social development using nothing but our own bare hands.  That rocks.

Let’s be honest, though.  Sometimes a 24/7 touching regimen isn’t possible:

  • You have other children that need you.
  • You have to prepare meals, pay bills, and mow the lawn.
  • You are an Extreme Sport Sleeper.  Putting a baby near your flailing limbs would be hazardous.
  • You’d like a little space, gosh darn it.  #introvertsunite #separately

Sure, baby wearing is an option, but at some point your infant needs to start developing some baby self soothing skills.

Which is why it’s a great thing to be a parent in the 21st Century. We have lots of technological “Top Hats” to pull rabbits out of.

When it comes to touch, recent studies like this one have shown that we can get the same brain-results that a parent’s touch causes without actually doing the touching.  

Before you start picturing this epic robot fail and cringing, let me offer a gentler solution.

The Difference Between
Newborns & Baby Self Soothing

The goal here is to help children gain self-soothing confidence while they’re sleeping by touching them without actually touching them.  

Newborn Self Soothing

The Magic Zen Swaddle.

For babies younger than 20 weeks, self-soothing is a difficult task.  Newborns are going through so many changes, that it can be hard to lock down a good schedule.  (Even though we can still try.)

For many newborns, the Wide World outside the Womb is a big disappointment.  Gone are those warm quiet evenings, listening to Mom’s heartbeats and feeling Dad’s pokes.

There’s a reason newborns are all bunched up like little frogs. They are soothed by being tucked up close to mom and dad.  Their moro reflex is on high alert – ready to startle them awake.

The Zen Swaddle not only holds them close, but it has lightly weighted pads on the tummy and sides to mimic the strong gentle arms of Mom and Dad.

And I mean “lightly weighted”.  These aren’t for body-builders.  They are carefully calibrated using physiotherapy standards and are completely safe for a newborn 0-6 months old (weighing between 7-18 lbs.).

The Zen Swaddle provides newborns with the perfect illusion of being held 24/7, the exact feeling they need to gain their confidence to self-soothe.

Baby Self Soothing

The Magic Zen Sack.

Once your baby gets through his four month growth spurt, you’ll look at him and (with shock) realize that your “newborn” has transformed into a full-fledged baby.

He’s rolling over.

He’s smiling and cooing and playing.

And the Zen Swaddle is no longer a safe option.  It’s time to wean away from the swaddle and transition over to a Zen Sack instead.

The Zen Sack keeps his arms free, so he can roll over, but still has those lightly weighted pads on his tum-tum to keep him feeling safe and secure.  Again, it’s perfectly calibrated for your baby’s body weight in order to safely lull him into a secure sleep.

Many sleep coaching clients have shared that their baby’s sleep goes down the toilet once they transition away from the swaddle.  The Zen Sack is our new “go to” solution to help keep those good sleeping habits going strong.

It’s the Final Countdown to
Complete Baby Self Soothing Success

If you have a newborn struggling to self-soothe, I’d give the Zen Swaddle a try.  Or, if your baby is still waking at night, and you’re tired of patting for hours, the Zen Sack is a good investment.

I fully realize that in revealing this magical baby self soothing trick, I have seriously compromised my position in the Alliance of Magicians.

You know what, though?

You’re worth it.

To prove my dedication to sharing THE TRUTH, I’m going to dramatically throw my Alliance of Magicians membership card into the sea.


You’re welcome.

Now get out there and work your magic.

Have You Read These Yet?

We  honesty!  This post contains affiliate links that provide extra money for our mutual coffee habits addictions. Click here to learn more.


The Experience of Touch: Research Points to a Critical Role.  NY Times
How Important is Physical Contact with Your Infant?  Scientific American
Orphaned Babies Show Hormone Disruption Years after Adoption.  Scientific American
The Effect of Human Contact on Newborn Babies.  LiveStrong
Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say. Harvard University Gazette

9 thoughts on “Magic Touch: A Baby Self Soothing Hack Every Parent Should Try

  1. I can’t guarantee it, since I’d need more information to find out what other things may be going on. That said, I do think it’s an amazing product – especially for those babies who really WANT to sleep on their tummies, but due to SIDS fears, you can’t let them.

    If you’d like us to look deeper into those naps, Libby, and teach you how to stretch them out a bit more, you may want to try signing up for a Sleep Session!

  2. Will this zen swaddle help with nap time? My baby sleeps at night great, but naps are scarce making evenings awful!

  3. It is very common to all parents. Baby sleeping issue is a genuine problem. The important part of safe sleep for your baby is the place where he/she sleeps, sleeping position, the kind of crib or bed and type of mattress. It is true that the quality of sleeping surface has a great impact on our babies’ health. So parents should be aware about this aspects and choose the natural mattresses for their babies.

  4. With baby number one at 7 months and having wished for something like this, I am saving this for baby number two when the time comes! Thank you for the great read and advice!

  5. Michelle, at 8 months he has better control of his neck, so I wouldn’t be as concerned about the tummy sleeping (although talk it over with your doctor to make sure). Some kids, like adults, just prefer to sleep on their tummies. If you’re just struggling with a single sleeping issue, I would recommend meeting with Amy for a Sleep Session so she can get more details on your situation and give you some specific customized advice and pointers. Or we’d love to work with you for 4-5 weeks and get ALL of these kinks worked out together through the Super Sleeper Coaching Program. It’s more expensive, but it has a 110% Money Back Guarantee to show that we are as committed to your success as we are. Either of these options would help us dig into what’s going on (routines, napping totals, possible medical issues, etc.) and create an effective plan you’re happy with.

  6. What if your baby sleeps on his tummy? He rolls over immediately so it’s impossible to get him to sleep on his back. He’s 8 months and still waking for feedings 2-3 times a night. I’m about to lose my sanity. I’ve tried letting him just cry it out, but he full fledge cries not just whimpers and then ends up sitting up in his crib screaming. I’ve tried going in and rocking him back to sleep but he just immediately goes for the breast and freaks out if I don’t let him eat, and when he does eat it’s not just for a minute or two until he falls back asleep… It’s a full on feeding like he’s never eaten before. I’m so lost on what to do.

  7. Oh my word where was this blog 2months ago…i would have really learnt alot. Thanks though…such a good read..i love the zac sack????

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