Autism and Preparing for a Sibling: Phase 2, Four Reasons a Baby Might Cry

So it’s been about 12 days since we started our experiment, to get J ready for a sibling, “baby brother practice doll”. I figured it was important for J to understand why a baby would cry in the first place, the four main reasons being, hunger, fatigue, loneliness and  a wet diaper. I figured if I armed him with the knowledge of reason and methods for correction this would help his anxiety when he hears his real baby brother cry, hopefully.

On day two I turned on the sounds of the baby doll. The doll makes four sounds, two cooing sounds and two discomfort sounds. I pushed the cooing sounds first, and J got very anxious. He dropped the doll, put his hands up to his ears and held his breath. I reassured him it was ok and allowed him to inspect the doll. He quickly found the sound triggers on the doll, and listened to the four different sounds at his discretion, the baby crying was clearly his least favorite as it made him hum to block out the sound, and drop the baby to plug up his ears and verbally acknowledge “baby cry”. I reminded him that his real baby brother will make noises and cry from time to time, and we can not drop him if he does, but sometimes we can help him.

1. Hunger– I showed him that sometimes a baby cries when he is hungry and asked him to feed the baby. The doll stops crying once the bottle touches its mouth which made J relax quickly.

2. Fatigue- The doll goes to sleep after it is fed a bottle, which relieved my son as he stated “baby sleeping, no cry”. I validated his conclusion and said yes sometimes the baby will also cry because he is tired, he might just need a nap. We laid the doll down and covered him with a blanket.

So now he knew two reasons a baby might cry, hunger and fatigue and how to help ease this discomfort. I didn’t push too much with the discomfort sounds on day 2 just an introduction, I focused more on the cooing sounds. After a while he didn’t mind the cooing sounds and even began imitating them.

The next few days, I kept playing the cooing sounds mostly, about 4 times a day for 10 minute periods of time, and playing the discomfort sounds twice a day for five-minute periods, allowing him to comfort the baby with one of the above mentioned remedies. I noticed after about three minutes of hearing the cooing sounds J seemed to become less interested and anxious about the baby, however a little annoyed and would ask me to leave his area with the baby, by saying,   “by baby”. When the baby was crying he would jump into action, grab the bottle and put the baby to sleep. I plan on breastfeeding so I realized I would have to show him some other methods to soothe.

3. Loneliness– After about a week in, I decided to increase J’s exposure to the discomfort sounds. I actually had him hold the doll as I repeatedly pushed the crying trigger. I explained to him sometimes the baby just needs some attention and love to be soothed and showed him how to gently rub his legs and hands and how to soothe the baby with a soft tone. Once he started to follow my instruction I pushed the trigger less, and less, until I stopped and told him what a great job he did giving the baby attention and soothing him. I told him he is going to make a great big brother, he beamed with pride and got very excited.

We have not attempted to change a diaper yet, that’ll be the next phase in our little experiment. Hope your all having a good Labor Day weekend. Any suggestions or comments are always welcomed below.


3 thoughts on “Autism and Preparing for a Sibling: Phase 2, Four Reasons a Baby Might Cry

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    1. Thanks NickyB. Preparation is my solace in the unpredictable world of Autism. It’s all well and good in theory, we’ll see what happens when, it’s a real baby and I’m not controlling the sounds, hopefully my preparation pays off, fingers crossed, thanks for the encouragement 🙂

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