Hey there new parents and parents to be!
Newborn photographers are often nicknamed baby whisperers because we seem to have a knack for getting sweet little babes to mold like putty in our hands, even seconds after a major protest.
The real tip here is that it’s not one thing, but a bunch of steps. After posing so many babies and of course, being a mom to my sweet girl, I got some tricks up my sleeves for ya.
HOW DO WE GO FROM THIS…
No surprise that babies rely on their caregivers to tend to their basic needs – fed, clothed, warm, and diaper changed, in a nutshell. But they don’t know this. All they know is do they feel safe, comfortable and secure – or not.
Considering the snug, tropical environment they just came from, where all their needs were continuously and automatically met, keep in mind these pointers:
1 . Baby wake times. (click here for a chart!)
Newborns can only be awake long enough to eat before they’re dosing off again – All the way up to 6 weeks old. They can really only be awake up to 45 minutes or so before you run the risk of them becoming overstimulated or over tired. Keeping that in mind, if you feed them upon waking, engage them with appropriate play or stimulation after, change diaper, and get them napping again at the 45 minute mark after waking, and then repeat the cycle all day, you’ll be a step ahead for sure*. This basic “schedule” for anticipating your newborns needs at the right time will save your sanity all the way till you’re through with naps. As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – usually.
There will definitely be times in the first few weeks of life that all the prevention fails, and baby is super upset all of a sudden.
What to do?
If baby is losing it cause they’re past hungry, you can forget about just trying to put their preferred feeding method in their mouth. Baby will need some soothing first to get back to a state where they can be fed.
First thing to remember, is that baby will need to hear you over their cries. Don’t be afraid to be loud enough! It’s pretty loud in the womb, and babies ears are water logged for the first couple of months after birth, so they can’t hear as well. And in my experience, the more general noise baby experiences throughout the day, the less likely they are to startle due to noise. Being extra quiet at home when baby comes can backfire later, especially during naps! Generally, match your shushing volume to their crying volume to be heard.
My own child would instantly become entranced by the sound of the vacuum – which is pretty loud, am I right? She would pretty much instantly stop crying and fussing. Same thing with a blow dryer (true story, when she was brand new before I found apps, I was so over shushing, that I set her in her bassinet and rocked with the blow dryer in my other hand, and then recorded it cause she loved it so much).
You don’t have to do all that, cause there’s so many amazing apps that do it all. Hands down, my favorite noise app is Relax Melodies. Even the free version rocks and you can customize every sound. So cool. <br><br>But sometimes, you just need a shusher, or a blow dryer, etc. After Relax Melodies, the next 2 are my favorite apps I now use during sessions to sooth and settle fussing babies. And I prefer shushing, blow dryer, & vacuum sounds.
They are the “white noise” app, which does it all (icon has a moon on a black starry background), and the “shushr – baby sleep sounds” app (an ombre pink and blue icon with baby sleeping on a moon) – I liked the shushing sound the best on this app, but the free version is short lived (you have to keep re-starting) When baby is screaming, you’ll need to shush right by their ear to get their attention (keep in mind how loud a vacuum is!)
3. A Firm, Secure touch
Babies are born with only one fear, and that is falling. If their arms and legs are flailing and they just came out of that womb environment, they’re going to startle themselves, and it’s going to make them feel less secure and comfortable than the familiar snug fit of the womb.
This is where swaddling is super beneficial for newborns, who have no control over their limbs. Using a firm and secure touch while you work on swaddling baby will help them be further comforted, and will ensure your swaddle is not too loose.
On the advice of a nurse (who I definitely was looking at thinking “ya right” when she was showing me), hold baby snug to your body in the cradle position, and then swing by dipping down, and then swinging your own torso as you come back up (little dips. picture sashaying around the room. Being a parent is so hard ya’ll)
The first 3 things were all just to lead you here – The 5 S’s, from the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. I feel that keeping the first 3 things in mind will help in the success of the principals of the 5 S’s. Check out the book for full details, but here’s a quick run down, in no particular order.
SWADDLING – (as discussed above) – As long as baby is not crying cause they need to be changed, go ahead and swaddle them up, nice and snug. No flailing arms, snug environment!
SHUSHING – you’re probably shushing as you frantically get baby swaddled up (or you got your app fired up cause you’re better prepared thanks to these tips)
SUCKING – Now, if baby was crying waiting for food, at this point the next S would be sucking to eat, otherwise, you could use a pacifier, or perhaps they’re content without sucking if they’re not hungry. We tried to use pacifiers for soothing, but my little didn’t care for them beyond a quick pop-in here and there, which was helpful enough.
SWING – Next up! It’s no secret babies like being rocked or swung. But when they’re melting down, the gentle swaying of rocking them to sleep isn’t gonna cut it. Using the firm hold close to your body I mentioned above or with baby in your lap, and holding and supporting their head so it doesn’t bounce around, you’ll want to do a short, quick jiggle movement. Think of some of the bassinets you’re able to buy that vibrate. Kind of like that. Never shake your baby, obviously. A link is below for how to do this correctly.
SIDE or STOMACH LYING – When Baby is awake and being fussy and all their needs are met, they’re likely craving the familiarity of the womb. Having them on their back is quite a different experience. but turning them on their side or tummy will help them feel more snuggled up and secure, and may even help if they’re having tummy issues. Holding baby on their side could help gas or poo move along, and the gentle pressure of laying them across your arm on their tummy could help too.
That’s it for how to soothe a newborn having a meltdown. It’s not always going to work. Sometimes, one thing will work, and sometimes, you’ll try all the things a couple of times and wonder why newborns can’t just tell you what they need (I KNOW it’s not just me). But rest assured, this hard phase goes by quick. The wake times will definitely help you beyond the newborn stage (be sure to click the link in the list for the chart!)
*A quick note on wake times – while it’s best to keep to the wake schedule, I believe in feeding when baby is hungry and not by a schedule, and with a newborn learning to nurse, that could take longer than 45 minutes. Use your judgement and keep baby fed.
Link to a great YouTube video for how they apply the swinging method for soothing: https://youtu.be/fNEG4ALmAsA
That’s all for now!