HALT for Babies

I learned a handy acronym a while back for helping identify the cause of emotional distress. The acronym is HALT, and it stands for Hurt, Angry, Lonely, Tired. I add Hungry, too, because I like many other people get pretty cranky when I'm hungry. Basically, the acronym helps you remember a few key emotionally descriptive words that serve as a starting point for greater emotional awareness during stressful moments. As a start, during an emotionally charged moment, ask yourself, "Am I Hurt, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (or Hungry)?" The answer can help you resolve the issue at hand, even if it's as simply as getting a snack or as complex as asking for an apology.

For babies, however, it's a bit more complicated since they have little capacity for expressing their emotions other than whining/screaming, and another person (you, the parent) has to figure out what their motivating need is. The other night, after the screaming baby woke us very late, I reflected on what might make a good list of possible problems babies are having and how to remember said list. That's when I came up with the perfect acronym, which stands for Sick, Hungry, Tired, and/or Dirty (diaper, that is): SH*TeD.

So next time your baby is whining, ask yourself, "Is my baby SH*TeD?" Testing each answer will likely resolve the crying, and remembering the list should make you smile, hopefully reducing your stress just a bit. Good luck and report any results!


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