When we train as a newborn photographer, as well as how to light and compose images, and safely pose your baby, we're also taught tricks for settling them. I'm always happy to rock babies to sleep if you'd like me to, and I'm very baby-led, so if your baby is awake but content, that's the way I'll photograph them; if they need a feed or a change, then there's plenty of time for that too, they are in charge of the session! I've been following Michelle Brown, sleep coach at The Baby Sleep Experts, on Instagram for a while now - the tips she shares are really helpful and I love that she also takes a very baby-led approach.
I asked Michelle if she could share her tips for soothing a crying baby (a few of which you'll also see me using during a newborn photoshoot). Here are her top 7...
Crying and babies often go hand in hand and it’s completely normal for a baby to cry. However, it can seem like you spend your whole day (and night) trying to soothe a fussy baby. The first step towards soothing your crying baby is always to stay calm yourself. Easier said than done but getting worked up will make you both feel stressed. Remember all babies are different and what works for one may not what work for another. It may take a few tries but with some patience and practice you will be able to find out what works and what doesn’t work for your baby.
It's always best to respond to your baby’s cries as soon as you can in the first few months. Being close to you is what will help them feel safe, secure and loved. You cannot spoil a baby and answering their cries promptly can get your baby to stop crying sooner and can help your baby cry less in the long run.
Try these 7 soothing methods to learn which one works best to help calm your baby:
1. Skin-to-skin This is a great way to calm your baby. You may even want to take a warm bath together as this often helps to calm a fussy baby. Being in contact with your skin helps to stabilise your baby’s body temperature and heart rate as well as stimulating the release of oxytocin (the love hormone) in you both.
2. Offer a swaddle Experts think swaddling soothes babies because it creates a warm, secure, snug feeling similar to that in the womb. Many parents find that swaddling helps their baby settle faster and stay asleep for longer.
3. Try a carrier or sling Babywearing and walking around is a great way to soothe a fussy baby. The gentle movement and closeness to you mimics life in the womb and babies are calmed by the rhythm of your steps. Using a carrier or a sling is also convenient as it leaves your hands free to get on with other tasks if you need to. Babywearing is also a good option to help fathers bond with their baby.
4. Massage A gentle, relaxing baby massage can be a great way of soothing and bonding with your baby. A gentle tummy massage can also help relieve any trapped wind, or constipation. Why not check out your local baby massage classes.
5. Turn on the white noise Some babies are calmed quickly with rhythmic whooshing sounds which reminds them of the womb. Vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and fans provide white noise but you can also invest in a white noise machine. Try playing white noise continuously when your baby is sleeping or shushing when you are settling your baby.
6. Head outside The change of scenery and new sounds and smells can be a great distraction and help to calm everyone down. Even just a 15 minute walk outside can be enough to help your baby to relax and calm down. The motion may also encourage them to fall asleep and stay asleep.
7. Put on some soothing music Singing and moving about gently can also help calm your baby down. Try a few different playlists to find out what works best for you. You might find that your baby prefers to listen to music that you listened to when you were pregnant.
Remember that some babies just cry more than others. It’s nothing that you have done wrong, it’s just the way they are and it won’t last forever. Sometimes it might seem that your baby won’t stop crying whatever you do. If none of the usual tricks and techniques are working, there might be another reason for your baby’s crying which warrants investigation.
Thank you Michelle for sharing your tips! I hope you find them useful. If you have any other tips for soothing your little one's please add them in the comments.
About Michell Brown Michelle is founder of The Baby Sleep Experts and The Good Night Sleep System helps exhausted parents with children who struggle to sleep, by sharing gentle, loving and responsive sleep solutions that benefit the whole family. If you would like personalised advice and support, please get in touch with Michelle or head over to her Facebook or Instagram pages for regular sleep tips and advice. I also recommend her blog for lots more tips!