I’ve specialized in newborn photography for over seven years now, and a huge part of my job is making sure baby is calm and comfortable during their session. It is a huge factor in ensuring we get those sweet sleepy poses everyone loves. Over the years, I have learned that every baby is different and what works for one baby may not work for another. I’ve compiled a list of my tried and true tips to soothe your newborn baby, that I use each and every session.
This is the easiest method and usually works immediately. Babies like to be snug and warm and swaddling mimics the snugness of the womb. Swaddling is also soothing to baby because it prevents the moro reflex from activating. The moro reflex is the startle reflex and it happens if baby is moved too quickly or is startled by a loud noise. In response to this reflex, baby throws their head back or to the side and their arms and legs extend fully, followed by crying and then pulling their arms and legs back in. While this reflex is completely normal, it can make some babies very upset.
The most important part of a swaddle is keeping their arms and legs tight against their body. (A good wrap doesn’t have to be super tight. We don’t want to cut off circulation). I usually always use a long piece of jersey material to get baby nice and snug while still allowing enough movement to not cut off circulation.
Anytime a baby arrives awake, I will always start with a swaddled pose. Usually they will drift back to dreamland once they are all wrapped up. You don’t have to do a fancy swaddle at home. I suggest taking an old t-shirt and cutting up both sides to make it long enough and then wrap around baby. Focus on keeping arms down at their sides and once the arms are wrapped up, cross baby’s legs and wrap them up into a snug little burrito.
White noise and sound machines are a great way to mimic the sounds of the womb. Remember, it was very loud in there. The sound of momma’s heart beat, the whooshing of blood through momma’s veins and other noises the body makes. When baby is born all those sounds disappear. It is much quieter with loud scary startling noises every now and then, and the constant hum of noise is gone.
I highly recommend getting a Baby Shusher. I use mine at every session and find it really helps to calm and settle baby if they’re feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. The Baby Shusher can be found at Babies R’ Us or Amazon. There are also white or pink noise apps that you can use. You can test them out and see which one your baby responds to best.
This goes without saying. Babies love to be warm and it goes along with being swaddled. Remember, your baby just came out of somewhere where it was 96F. They also can’t regulate their own temperature just yet. I know it sounds silly, but increasing the temperature in your home by two or three degrees really helps. As adults, we can always remove or add layers when we need, but baby can’t, so keeping it a little warmer than normal those first few weeks really helps.
I haven’t met a baby yet who doesn’t love being swayed, rocked or bounced. They are used to constant swaying motion within the womb so it’s only natural that they crave movement. Swings, Mamaroos, and vibrating bouncy chairs work wonders. In my studio I personally use the Lullavibe. It’s a portable vibrator that can be used in the stroller, car seat or even the bassinette. It offers a comforting vibration that babies seem to love. You can find the Lullavibe on Amazon.
There are many different ways to soothe a fussy baby. These tips to soothe your newborn baby are just a few of the tried and true methods I use during sessions that seem to work the best. Only you know your baby and what he/she likes and dislikes. What may work one time, may not work the next, so it’s always handy to have a few different tricks to help along the way.
Keep in mind that all babies cry. It is their only way to communicate with us. If feeding, burping or changing their diaper fails to calm baby, these tips may just do the trick.
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