Tag Archives: lullaby

A surprising way to soothe your baby

Hello, tuned-in parents,

Today we’re going to talk about a technique that is used in music therapy called Vocal Holding. I think you’ll find that it is a nice alternative to purely consoling our babies with speech. And you might even find that it works better.

I had to use it just the other day.

We had received a new peeler in the mail and my daughter was excited to open the package as usual. Before I knew what was happening she got a surface cut on her finger. The site of blood and the surprise of the cut set her off and she started crying inconsolably.

I held her and – instead of empathizing with her through speech – I matched her sobs with the sound “ah.” I made my sound fit in the same phrase/length as hers and took in breaths at the same time.

Slowly, her cries tapered and we sat together silently. It was my way of acknowledging her pain and being available to her in a purely emotional – not intellectual – way.

Vocal holding is a technique developed by Dr. Diane Austin, who uses it to relieve adult trauma. It is an effective way to do psychotherapy that can be more emotional and less analytical than talk therapy.

The idea behind it is that the therapist uses her voice as a way to hold and support the client. In talk therapy, a patient might share something that is troubling at home. The therapist might reflect back to him what she said using other words or sometimes even the same words exactly.

The therapist might ask an open-ended question like, “How did that make you feel? Or in another instance the therapist might provide an intervention or an interpretation of what the patient is saying and feeling in order to help him advance and break out of old patterns.

Vocal holding does these things but with the voice.

When our children are upset about something they need us first of all to empathize and understand what they’re feeling. We can do this by telling them that we see they are upset, that we understand what happened, that we know it is hard to feel sad/ hurt / frustrated /etc.

But sometimes saying it is not enough. And when the crying continues it is often because our children need to continue to express their feelings. Our job is to allow space for that to happen.

In order for us to do that we need to feel okay with an expression of emotions. We need to not be scared of it rather welcome it.

In these situations vocal holding can be a great way to hold that space for our children. As you know, singing bypasses the intellect and comes from an emotional place.

How to try Vocal Holding:

  1. Match your child’s tone. If your child is upset, sing along in their exact melody and take breaths where they do.
  2. Take turns. If your child is not upset, this alternating method can feel like a vocal conversation with improvised sounds.
  3. Harmonize. If your baby is singing a repetitive melody, accompany them on an instrument with one or two simple chords.
  4. Sing in a lower tone. If your child is calm or upset, improvise using a resonant sound as if you are providing the foundation on which your baby can emote.

Next time your baby cries you might want to experiment with using this surprising way to soothe your baby to help her feel heard and understood.

Has your baby responded to musical soothing before? Did your upset baby love your humming or toddler want to hear a calming song?
Comment here so we can figure this out together.

Who in your life is open to new techniques?
Forward this to them so they can try vocal holding.

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You don’t need to enrich your baby

Today, I’m going to share 1 tip & 1 activity that releases yourself from the nagging belief that we need to do all kinds of things in order to enrich our babies.

Welcome to the Tuesday Tune-In. Here we go.

We really do drive ourselves crazy, right? It’s an epidemic of our generation. We had babies later in life than our parents did and had more time to feel independent, pursue careers and support ourselves than our parents ever did. We know how to get shit done.

It’s no surprise we feel a constant urge to enrich our babies.

We bounce through the night while scrolling through bits of information on how to do things best. Like business conferences, we absorb new information from our new friends and classes. And, as we go, we start to feel little pangs of stress. We look at the other babies and we wonder why our baby isn’t rolling yet, crawling yet, standing yet, talking yet or walking yet, like the other babies. That’s when we think we should be doing even more enrichment activities.

I know this all firsthand. I, myself, am an alpha mom type. In my case, with the second and third baby, I learned an important lesson:

Our babies actually don’t need us as much as we think.

They don’t need us to actively show them things. They are constantly exploring. They are natural scientists who are constantly gathering data from their surroundings. They’re finding patterns, noticing repetition and are continuously watching us very closely.

When we set out to actively enrich them, they don’t learn from our lesson plan, they learn from our unconscious behavior.

Babies are like mirrors, imitating our moves, our style, and our social behavior. Then we, in turn, mirror them back.

So here’s the tip for today: Let your baby lead you for 3 minutes (or more!)

  • Where to be: Join your baby in the same position he or she is in. If she’s lying down, lie down next to her. If he is sitting playing, sit next to him. If she is on the move, walk with her and explore what she is exploring.
  • What to do: Try to experience what she is experiencing. Try to imagine what she’s feeling in her hands or in her mouth. Now, all you need to do is try to see the world through her eyes.
  • What to say: You don’t need to say anything or do anything. Your baby is doing it all for herself. We are just there to be present with them in their exploration and get a lesson from them on how to be present in play.
  • What to watch: Look at your baby solely to see where they are looking. This is a mindfulness exercise. It is much more challenging than it sounds. (We spend most of our time gazing at our babies because they are beautiful and fascinating.)

What you may find is that your baby is on a constant quest to learn. He or she doesn’t actually need us to be the teacher. They just need us to make the classroom available. And the classroom is everything around us.

By the way, this is not just for babies. This is for kids of all ages. The 8 year old who is building stuff out of lego or boxes might want us to just sit nearby and be present with them. The 4 year old coloring might want us to join them in their process without showing them what to do, or even doing anything ourselves, rather just silently noticing or commenting on the process.

So the bottom line: You can relax. Your child knows how to learn. You just have to set the stage and let them lead.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful has it been planning enrichment activities? COMMENT below and let me know.

Is our neighbor doing more to make their baby a genius? Heavens no! Have you ever felt that? how do you handle it?

Ever want to be a mythbuster? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Share this with your parent friends and bust the enrichment myth wide open for them. You don’t know until you know!

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What Hamilton teaches us about being with our babies

This week, Broadway is my inspiration for The Tuesday Tune-in.

Art can teach us a lot about relationships – even the ones we have with our babies.

Let’s take a moment to consider “Hamilton.”

Whether or not you’ve seen or heard the songs from this Tony award-winning musical, you can benefit from one lesson I’ve taken away from it:


Stop saying – and start singing – every word.

In other words – Talk less. Sing more 🙂

 

Ok, I’ll admit – like many people in the United States – my family knows every single word to the soundtrack. It’s an album that we can all agree on. And even now, years after it had its heyday in my home, it is always a reliable go-to on long car drives.

 

One of the things that makes Hamilton so unique is that it is almost entirely sung. When you listen to the soundtrack, you’re pretty much getting the entire show. And for those who were lucky enough to see it, it’s an amazing experience to see an entire story told without speaking.

 

It reminds me of when I had my first baby and all the books and blogs said to narrate what I was doing with my baby. This would help him develop language, they all agreed. The idea was that the more language the baby hears, the more they will pick up on the sounds, syncopation and structure.

 

I tried it for a bit but, I have to say, it always felt ridiculous.


But you know what did feel right? Singing it.

For example: Picking my baby up from the crib,

I could say:

“I’m picking you up now and we’re walking into the kitchen.”

Or

I could sing:

“Let’s go into the kitchen, let’s go into the kitchen let’s find something to eat.“

 

As you go about your day, narrate it. Let your baby in on your story, on your thoughts and feelings. BUT don’t just narrate in words. Put it into melody, rhyme and rhythm. The more you do that the more your baby will be listening.

You can even challenge yourself to rhyme at the end of sentences. Hell, take a page from “Hamilton” (and rap and hip-hop) and see if you can even rhyme in the middle of sentences.

Here’s some inspiration. The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rhymes are so good they’ve been analyzed mathematically:

[HAMILTON]

“Thomas Jefferson, always hesitant with the President
Reticent—there isn’t a plan he doesn’t jettison
Madison, you’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in”
from “Cabinet Battle #1

 

And once you do it, you may find that it’s hard to stop. Here’s how Miranda felt about it:

“We found that if you start with our opening number, you can’t go back to speech. The ball is just thrown too high in the air.” (Mental Floss)
Once you start singing what you’re doing to your baby, it will feel incredibly natural. There are a few scientific and emotional reasons for this.

First of all, it turns out babies are much more interested in hearing us sing rather than speak, according to a study in “Infant Behavior and Development” (2004) They hold their gaze longer on the singer and even move their bodies less signaling that we are holding their attention.

The next reason is because it makes us more playful. When I did this with my baby I was organizing my words into repeatable and simpler phrases, which rolled off my tongue more easily. I’m sure that was much more relatable to my baby. It was definitely more interesting for me.

The third reason? it just made my baby and I a little happier. Suddenly we were smiling; we were bopping to whatever I was singing; and I was making myself giggle at the rhymes and the silly melodies that I was coming up with.

The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda figured out how to hold the attention of the world with just this type of rhyme and silly melody. He figured out that if he brought us a show that had a strong rhythm to it, syncopation that made us move, intricate rhymes, and clever phrasing, then it would hold our attention. (It doesn’t hurt to have a fascinating story and a hugely talented cast either.).

With those tools, he managed to tell one of the most complicated stories ever told on stage with a soundtrack that is listened to over and over and over by all ages.

 

So I say: Let’s take a lesson from Hamilton.

Let’s learn how to be more engaged, more playful and more joyful.

And, along the way, let’s star in our own home-made musical.

 

 

Do you star in your own home-made musical? I want to hear about it! COMMENT in the comment box below and tell us how you do it.

What’s your favorite “Hamilton” song? Comment and let me know.

Know another “Hamilton” fan? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.

If they know all the lyrics like my kids, I can assure you they’ll appreciate this read. Forward along!

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Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

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A quick way to feel present with your baby

Good, good morning to you – moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers.

It’s time for The Tuesday Tune In. This week, I’m telling you one super-quick, super-easy way to be present with your children.

You know that moment when our babies or kids ask us to do something “one more time”? I know you do.

We all love their desire for more Together Time – but in that moment we can pass on the opportunity. Often it’s because it’s nearing the end of the day and we’re too worn out. Or we see that little bit more as just TOO MUCH right then.

Or – if you’re like me – you’re just so ready for the fast-approaching Me Time.

So, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to tell you to try this week:

Push yourself to do that thing ONE MORE TIME.

For my kids, it’s an extra hug after bedtime kisses.

Have you ever seen a horse nearing the stable after a long walk? That’s when the horse’s walking turns into a trot because they know they’re almost home.

At 7:55pm, I feel me-time becoming a reality and I start to gallop home. And it’s right when I reach the stable when the kids each ask for one more hug.

For your child it might be asking for you to rock them one more time, to walk the curb like a balance beam one more time or to sing a chorus one more time.

I say, for the next week, Let’s see what happens when we push ourselves to give in for those two extra minutes – whether it’s the extra hug, the detour or the added rocking.

One of my biggest struggles as a parent is to do all of the things I do every day (career, errands, tasks, social life) and also find a way to be fully present with my kids.

I’ve found that this is one simple shift in my behavior that changes everything.

One day recently I went back and lied down with my daughter in her bed for a moment and I gave her a long, delicious hug. I let my tasks go. The emails would wait. The mess would still be there. And I gave in to two minutes of being fully present with her.

Later I realized that it was the best part of my day.

How did I realize the power of “one more time”?
I wrote the extra hug in my Five Minute Journal.

A couple weeks ago, I sent out an email about a practice called The Five Minute Journal by Tim Ferriss. (Read that full post here.)

I noticed that at the end of the day, when I was writing my list of amazing things that happened that day, I would consistently write about the extra hug. And then the next day when I was writing my list of what would make the day great I started to put down the extra hug. Because: Why wouldn’t I make my day amazing?

So try it. See if it makes your day amazing, too.

What’s your child’s “one more thing”? Comment and let me know.
One last dance-off? One last tickle fight? It’s different for every child. I want to know yours. Drop me a line here.

Glad you read this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it – one more time!
Quick. Now. Before you’re ready to move on to Me time! Forward to a friend, you good samaritan.

Do you have a friend with a baby who needs sleep asap? Send them the Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Kit.

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One trick to feeling good about your singing

Hi, tuned-in moms and dads,

This week in the Tuesday Tune In, I want to offer you a strategy for feeling good about your singing voice especially when singing with your baby.

You might be surprised to hear: Whenever I sit down at the microphone to record vocals for an album, I have a mini freak-out. I’ve never thought of myself as a great singer. What I really wanted since I was a kid was to be able to sing like Mariah Carey or Beyonce or other singers who seemed to have endless flexibility in their vocals. I hope you’re not reading this thinking – “Oh please. She has a beautiful voice.”

Because that’s my point:
Everyone feels insecure when they sing. (Even those who make a career out of it.)

If you haven’t grown up singing in your home or with your family or friends, then it probably feels even more uncomfortable and scary.

So, I’m going to give you a strategy.

Here’s a method that I use when I’m singing at the mic. I’m hoping it will help you when you are singing to your baby. Because here’s the thing: Your baby wants to hear you sing. More than Paul McCartney, more than Aretha. Your baby wants to hear YOU.

The trick to STOP JUDGING and START LOVING your singing voice:

1. Relax your voice by taking in a deep breath before each phrase.

This is important because if your body tenses, then your voice will immediately feel constricted. Once that happens, our brains recognize the discord and we judge ourselves from the get-go.

2. Hear your voice as if it is coming from outside of you.

As you are singing try to hear your voice as if someone else is singing to you. This is the hard part and the incredible part. You might need to close your eyes as you do this but if you manage to do it, even for a minute, you may feel soothed by your own voice. Instead of judging it, you may enjoy it. This is because we are much less judgemental of others than we are of ourselves.

This technique is a bit easier in a group when you can focus on everyone else’s voice instead of your own. We do this alot in our classes. When shifting our focus to the voices around us we notice that our own voice tends to be more in pitch, more relaxed, and seems to find its place among the other voices in an effortless way.

I learned this while recording my albums. My biggest task in the studio was to get out of my own head. If I didn’t, I could feel my inner dialogue getting the best of me just a few words in. My voice felt and sounded constricted and didn’t seem to flow. If someone could’ve record my thoughts during those few words, they would probably have seen a quick moving list of comments – “You sound terrible,” “You shouldn’t be singing this song,” “That note was off,” “Your jaws is not relaxed,” “Sara Bareilles sounds much better” or, “No one will want to hear this.”.

That voice can be SO loud. And while we all have a version of it, some hear it louder than others.

I know this from years of doing classes and singing with parents. Many don’t feel comfortable singing in a group or, if they do, they will be sure to sing under their breath so no one can hear.

There’s a good reason for that. Singing is not like talking. Speaking often comes from an intellectual place. But singing bypasses our intellect and comes directly from an emotional place. That feels vulnerable no matter who you are.

But that is what makes singing so powerful.

Tonight as you are singing a lullaby to your baby, try it. It’s a mindfulness exercise and it’s not simple but it’s worth it. Why not let you AND your baby be soothed by your voice?

How comfortable are you with your voice?
Have you overcome insecurities while singng? How?
I want to hear!! Email and let me know.

So many parents in my groups feel insecure about singing. Your stories can help them overcome their anxiety.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend. The ones who sang at your wedding and the ones who won’t even karaoke. Forward away.

Love Vered

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Download the FREE Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Cheat Sheet now

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5 Minutes That Will Change Your Day

Dearst parents,
I recently came across a way to get all the energetic upside of a gratitude practice AND all of the actionable results of a goal-setting practice. When I noticed the feel-good wave it gave me day to day, I knew this would be the first thought in my new Tuesday Tune-In blog series that I’d share with you.

It’s called The 5 Minute Journal and it’s the brainchild of self-experimenter and bestselling author Tim Ferriss (“The Four-Hour Work Week”).

I’ve woven it into my life since December and appreciate how simple it is. And for parents who may be sleep deprived – and are certainly time deprived – this is a perfect way to journal daily and check in with yourself in literally five minutes. Honestly, I can make it three minutes, so you can, too.

Notice my kids in the pic waiting patiently for me in the morning. I’ve trained them that this is two minutes of mommy time 🙂 And if your baby is too young to wait for you to do this then just know it is in your future!

The Five Minute Journal
In the morning, you write 3 (or more) points for each of these:

I am grateful for…
What would make today great?
Daily affirmations: I am…

In the evening you write 3 (or more) points for these:
Amazing things that happened today
How could I have made today even better?

I can attest: These little questions do a lot.

The question that struck me most was: What would make today great?

I’ve been surprised by the things I write here. They are often much smaller moments than I expected. And I feel empowered that they’re small enough that I can go ahead and try to make them happen the next day.

I urge you to go into this with curiosity – what are those things that would make your day truly great?

The evening follow-up –  What amazing things happened today?, might surprise you as well. Again, they might be big but they might be small.

Remember, it’s a few minutes and it’s truly worth it.

As it turns out, journaling is one of the top habits of successful people. (Oprah talks about hers here.) And a gratitude practice has been shown in Positive Psychology to improve our well-being, both long and short term. Just look to the empirical research in Robert A. Emmons and Cheryl A. Crumpler ‘s 2000 article “Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence” for the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, which he talks about here.

I know you are all busy – feeding babies, putting kids down, waking up early with kids and more. You may have NO TIME WHATSOEVER to journal. I totally get that. But in case you have just five minutes to try it, it might make your day great. Or amazing.

Did you get through this in 2 minutes or less? Reply and let me know.
I want to make sure that each weekly thought is useful to you – and not just one more lengthy article that you put aside for later. My goal is to make it short enough for you to digest it on the go. This way, you can take the ideas into your life with your baby and feel that much more present and joyful. Drop me a line here.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend.
We all need a little love. Forward away.

Do you want to know everything there is to know about lullabies? Click here to download my new Easy Bedtime Lullaby Kit complete with a songwriting template, a playlist, and a gameplan to make your evenings easier for one and all.

See you next Tuesday,
Love Vered

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