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Moms and dads, keep your electric toothbrushes handy

If you’re in a parent group, or waiting at school pickup, or in a birth class, or in any of those spaces where moms and dads like to congregate, it’s probably just a matter of time before the conversation winds its way toward something from an episode of The Longest Shortest Time podcast. And it’s with good reason: Hillary Frank — who created the parenthood podcast after a horrific birth injury and long recovery — gets to the heart of issues that are top-of-mind for parents, from breast pumps to baby poop.

Now, Frank says her biggest takeaway from the podcast and her own experience is that most parenting advice is too prescriptive — you either follow it to the letter and it works, or you’re a failure. Meanwhile, the tricks most parents actually use would never appear in an advice book — they’re the sometimes random, off-the-wall ideas that parents try in a moment of creativity (or desperation) and happened to achieve the desired results. So she asked parents for those strategies — those real-life tricks parents use to get through the day. After hearing from more than 800 parents, she published her favorite anecdotes in Weird Parenting Wins: Bathtub Dining, Family Screams, and Other Hacks from the Parenting Trenches. While the book covers everything from picky eaters to having sex after kids, here’s some tips Frank received about something all new parents want advice on: how to soothe a crying infant.

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Sometimes the best thing for your baby isn’t designed for babies at all.

There will be times when you buy something you believe will be the key to making your parenting life easier, and it doesn’t work at all. But then you reach for the first thing you have on-hand, and it works like a charm (at least once). These parents, as quoted in Weird Parenting Wins, might be able to relate:

„During a particularly loud crying spell one night, in a moment of desperation, my husband grabbed his electric toothbrush and turned it on. He started waving the toothbrush around like a half asleep orchestral conductor. And what do you know … the baby stopped crying! In a state of sleep deprived euphoria, we took the head off the toothbrush and nestled the contraption next to our swaddled newborn. She — and we — drifted off to sleep … Did it work for our second daughter a few years later? Not a chance.” —Sarah, River Forest, IL

If the toothbrush doesn’t work, try some other appliances.

Hey, just about every gadget you own makes some kind of noise. Maybe something in your house will have the right frequency. It worked for these parents:

„After hearing that the whir of the dishwasher had soothed a friend’s baby, we tried it ourselves. Didn’t work for us, but we went through all the kitchen appliances till we found something that worked. Turns out, our daughter was powerless against the white noise of the fan above the oven. She could go from full-on screamfest to completely asleep in less than a minute.” —Jordan, Glen Ridge, NJ

When you’re all out of ideas, do the silliest thing you can think of.

It just might work! I’d love to know how these parents figured this one out:

„When my 2-year-old daughter fights bedtime, my husband and I put her in her crib and do a synchronized dance to a Delta Spirit song. The fussing usually stops when I pop out from between my husband’s legs for the ‘ooohs.'” —Kari, Washington

The big lesson is, obviously, babies are all different. What’s comforting to one might be frightening to another, and when you’re at your wit’s end the craziest idea that pops into your head — within reason — could be the key to stopping your child’s fussiness. As ever, parenting is in part a guessing game, and the best moments — the fleeting successes when you figure out the thing that actually works — are always better when shared. Keep us informed of all those wins, Hillary!

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From: Good Housekeeping US

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