"I never know what's gonna happen next. She seems asleep, so I lie her down...and she wakes up. She seems hungry, so I put her on the breast...and she falls asleep. She looks like she wants to play, so I grab her favorite rattle...and she spaces out," sighs Leigh, mother of three-week-old Zoe. "She's always in the wrong zone at the wrong time as best I can tell!"
There are three primary newborn "Zones" (often called "states" in medical literature): The Resting Zone (the sleeping zone), The Ready Zone (ready to play or ready to eat zone), and The Rebooting Zone (the fussing and crying zone.) Because the newborn brain is still developing, babies can flow easily and rather unpredictably from one zone to another. Over the next few weeks you will be better able to tell what "Zone" your baby is in and what she needs and wants.
For now, begin to watch for clues for what "Zone" your baby is in. (See the video clip at http://www.hugyourbaby.com/skills.html ) You can help a baby get to the Resting Zone by swaddling her, giving a pacifier, swaying her gently, or singing softly. You can help him to the Ready Zone to eat by undressing him and letting him have a few normal newborn startles. You can help her in the Rebooting Zone by following some of the steps I discussed in posts on this blog about calming and crying.
Leigh watches her baby carefully over a few days and grows to see how Zoe moves from one Zone to another. In addition, she practices the techniques I desctibe to help Zoe get where she needs to go. Recognizing these Zones and understanding her daughter's unique rhythms give Leigh more confidence. "I'm tuned in to her now and am discovering my own zone as her Mom!"