For a while I wanted to write a blog to share with all the mum's and dads some great tips and techniques in how to calm and soothe an unsettled baby....As a baby photographer in Guildford, being able to settle a newborn is one of the most important skills I’ve learned. People often ask me how I manage to keep babies so calm during a photography session. Many of my clients even go so far as to call me a ‘baby whisperer’! My ability to soothe babies has taken lots of practice over the years and I thought it was about time I share my top tips for settling a newborn. So, if you’re tearing your hair out wondering how on earth to get your little bundle of joy to settle, then read on…
Before discussing my tried and tested techniques for settling a baby, I want to point out the importance of spending time working out why the baby is crying. I’m a big fan of Dr. Harvey Karp’s book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, which has been incredibly helpful in giving me insight into what makes newborns cry or appear unsettled. Dr. Karp is a big believer in the ‘fourth trimester’, and the concept makes total sense to me. Whereas horse foals are up and running within an hour of birth, human babies are born completely helpless. Dr. Karp believes that because our little ones are born earlier, they need us to recreate the feelings, sensations, and sounds of the womb in order to feel settled and calm. The following ‘five Ss’ are his methods for creating a womb-like environment, and believe me, they work like a charm!
Swaddling is my absolute number one strategy for calming a baby down. Done right, swaddling lets the baby feel secure and snug - just like they felt in utero. It means that the baby can calm down enough to be more receptive to some of the other methods I use to get the baby settled and ready for the all-important baby photoshoot. If you're not sure how to swaddle, this is an incredibly useful guide.
Side/stomach position: how you hold a baby can make a big difference. Once swaddled, I tend to use a rugby hold, over the shoulder hold, or reverse breastfeeding hold, all of which position the baby on his or her side or stomach - much better for security than on his or her back.
Shushing noises are great for calming a baby right down, whether done yourself or through a white noise app. Why? Because the sound imitates the loud whooshing that babies hear in the uterus. In my Photo Studio in Guildford I have a Baby Shusher that does the job, but you can find free apps online too.
Swinging baby also works brilliantly - just make sure that you support their head! There are some great video’s on Youtube if you’d like to see the right technique.
Sucking: the instinct to suck is inbuilt in every baby. While not everyone is a fan of dummies, they do work well as a tool to help settle. Some babies who are otherwise extremely fussy can transport into a deeply calm state when sucking on a dummy. I have brand new dummies available at my studio, should my clients wish to try one.
A bonus tip: patting. This one doesn’t feature in Dr. Karp’s list but is another indispensable method I use during my newborn photoshoot. By patting baby’s bottom, you can replicate the heartbeat that would have been a constant source of comfort while in the womb.
Some babies only need one or two of these elements to be soothed; some will need all of them. Together they provide the cuddle cure, which help a baby feel safe and secure. If you’re looking for a baby photographer in Guildford, Surrey, then please bear me in mind for your newborn photoshoot. We’ll have your little one settled in no time!
I hope you find these tips helpful, please let me know if you did try them and if they worked for you.
Love, Aliana xxx