How to Soothe a Newborn - Tips from a Newborn Photographer
How to Soothe your Newborn
Tips from a Newborn Photographer
The birth of your baby is undoubtedly a joyous occasion, but it can also be a challenging time as you settle into your new family routine.
There may be times of the day when baby cries a lot and is very difficult to comfort, early evenings seem to be a common time for this to happen, just when you’re getting tired yourself and looking forward to putting your feet up after a busy day. Aside from the obvious causes mentioned above, there are many reasons your new baby may cry; they may have colic, be overtired, overstimulated, or they may just need a reassuring cuddle.
I remember this time well with my own children and I know it can seem like an endless journey when you’re going through it. Please don’t despair! The good news is that the amount a baby cries usually peaks at around one to two months of age before gradually diminishing.
I’ve worked as a newborn photographer for 17 years now and have learned some fantastic ways of soothing my little models which I’ll share below. If during one of my newborn photography sessions my little client is a bit fussy and doesn't want to settle then firstly, I will rule out obvious reasons for upset such as hunger or a wet/dirty nappy. If that doesn't do the trick, I will use the following tools:
Swaddling mimics the snug environment of the womb, providing comfort and security to newborns. I regularly swaddle babies for my photographs, and it is a quick way to calm them. If your little one is crying a lot, try using a soft, breathable blanket to wrap your baby, ensuring their arms are comfortably tucked in and they are not wrapped too tightly. (Please note – although I find swaddling a beneficial tool for calming babies during the short duration of a photo session, I am not a medical professional, so please do seek advice if you intend swaddling your baby for longer periods of time).
Babies are accustomed to constant motion in the womb, so gentle rocking or swaying can be incredibly soothing. Try rocking your baby in your arms, using a baby swing, or taking a leisurely stroll with your pram or using a baby carrier. The rhythmic movement can help lull your baby into a state of relaxation.
Shushing (White Noise):
I always use a white noise app during my sessions and usually have it set to either a loud ‘Shhhh’ or a womb/heartbeat sound. White noise mimics the familiar sounds heard in the womb (which are actually a lot louder than you might think!) and the steady hum of white noise can create a calming environment for your baby, making it easier for them to drift off to sleep. There are many free white noise apps available online or you can soothe baby with a loud and rhythmic ‘shhhh’ yourself. Try combining a swaying cuddle with white noise and watch the magic happen.
Sucking (the dreaded dummy)
I know the question of whether to give your baby a dummy or not is a bit of a ‘Marmite’ question, but there is no doubt that the occasional use of a dummy has been an invaluable tool over my years as a newborn photographer. Sucking is a natural instinct for a newborn and one they will use to self soothe when feeling unsettled. I always suggest that parents bring along a dummy to their newborn session but I will only use it if absolutely necessary to settle baby during posing. If mum and dad don't want baby to have a dummy long term, it can be disposed of as soon as the session is over. A baby will not develop a dummy addiction over the course of a single photo session. At home, if your little one tends to be a comfort sucker and you don’t mind them using a dummy, choose one designed specifically for newborns and offer it to your baby during times of distress.
Sometimes it can be obvious that baby is uncomfortable due to wind or colic. A gentle massage can be incredibly calming for new babies and help alleviate such discomfort. Try using a baby-safe oil or lotion and gently massage your baby's arms, legs, and tummy using gentle, circular motions. There are so many ‘how to’ videos available on the internet that are well worth watching.
Not something I personally do with newborns of course, but skin-to-skin contact has so many benefits for both parents and newborns. Holding your baby close against you will regulate their body temperature, breathing and heart rate. It also promotes bonding and can help calm your baby by surrounding them with the familiar scent and warmth of their parent.
FINALLY - and most importantly!
If your baby is crying constantly and you cannot soothe them, or if their cry does not sound normal for them, it could be a sign that your little one is ill, particularly if they have other symptoms such as a high temperature. In this case then of course please get medical advice. Trust your instincts! the bond between a parent and child is an amazing gift from Mother Nature. You know your baby better than anyone else and so are best placed to identify a different or worrying behaviour in your child. Please don't ever be afraid to listen to that parental instinct if you believe your child is unwell.
Thank you for reading!
No comments posted.
Recent PostsLens into Life: My Journey Into Photography Photographing Children: Techniques for Bringing Out Their Personality in Portraits Surviving those First Days: A Guide for New Parents What do you need for a newborn photoshoot? Basic Equipment for Photographers. Is it normal to Cry a Lot after Having a Baby? How to Soothe a Newborn - Tips from a Newborn Photographer Behind the Scenes of my Newborn Photography Sessions. Why is Newborn Photography important? A Brief History of Newborn Photography How to Choose a Newborn Photographer