So many times I hear parents say how they can’t believe how I can get baby to sleep. Let’s face it a newborn baby does not come with a manual but over the past 10 years I have developed techniques that help to settle your baby that helps to induce sleep. Now that is not to say every single baby will sleep using these techniques but I have a pretty good success rate. Here are some of my tips and tricks that help me get your baby to sleep.
If I had a dollar for every time I hear parents tell me their baby hates being wrapped only to watch me wrap their baby up and they sleep for good little while, I would have a very happy bank account. A swaddle in newborn photography is firm but does not cut circulation off. Your baby is used to be nice a squishy, think about it for the past 9 months they have slept with a foot next to their face ( or sitting on your bladder).
The first thing that I will do with an awake baby that I want to get to sleep is to wrap, wrap and wrap. Ok so yes I can use a few layers BUT be cautioned not to overwrap at home. Babies in my studio are monitored at all times. Keep the wrap firm but not so tight that the circulation may be compromised. I can usually get my fingers down the wrap quite easily. I place babies arms across their body so they can feel secure. My wraps are nice and stretchy which helps me get those wiggly arms secured. The wrap supports the neck but again is not too tight.
Swaddling helps a baby to feel that snug womb like pressure around them. It also helps prevent the startle reflex. You know the one where baby just nods off and you move and their arms fly out like a starfish. If you help prevent this reflex you and you will help baby feel secure. I used to love the Love to Dream swaddles when my babies were little as I could keep those little arms still while I was changing a nappy in the middle of the night.
I was always taught to be quiet around a baby. You don’t want to wake them up right? Well newborn babies have just come from an environment that sounds like a freight train running past their head 24 hours a day. Think about it our tummy’s are constantly rumbling, gurgling and swooshing. On top of that you have the boom of our heart beating, the muffled sounds our voices- which is loud enough that your baby learns the sound of your voice before he or she is even born. If they have sibling eagerly waiting they can hear them talking to their new brother or sister or the wrath that happens when you have said no more ice cream tonight.
Why would we think it is normal for a baby to go to sleep in the quite?
In the studio I use a combination of noises. I use what I like to refer to my meditation hum ( just a soft deep hum I make myself), relaxation music on my TV and a device called a Baby Shusher. It makes a shushing sound just like you or I can make.
You can make your own white noise at home. You can purchase an app on your phone, buy a doll or device that has white noice, play soft music on the radio or even better use the static sound, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer ( just don’t leave these unattended or even better record them and you can keep playing them over and over again.), let the toddler talk to you while you are putting the baby to sleep. I rarely whisper in my studio and first time parents sometimes think I am a little nuts but I have found babies sleep better when they know people are still around them.
Swaying and Rocking
You may have been walking around like a penguin for the past 12 months but all of that waddling has been helping your baby sleep inside. For the first few weeks they still need the same kind of movement. I find patting on the bum in a heart beat works well. My rule is always jiggle like jelly- you know how jelly breaks if you wobble it too hard? Let’s keep the rule the same for a baby. Soft swaying, bouncing, rocking,patting all creates movement that will all help calm a baby. See if your baby has a preference. Some don’t like being rocked but prefer being bounced others a soft jiggle. They all help keep your baby calm. Who doesn’t love a cuddle with their new baby anyway!
Placing your baby on their side after wrapping ( or even unwrapped)and combined with some rocking can help get those nasty trapped bubbles of air to move out of their little bellies. You can either do this on a bed, couch or even in your arms. Once asleep you can then move onto their backs in accordance to the SIDS guidelines.
Yes sucking is marvelous. Ever noticed how baby falls asleep straight after a feed or when you use a dummy ( or pacifier). It is because sucking is another reflex they have to help sooth them to sleep. Some babies might need a breastfeed and others a dummy or some even prefer their thumb.
A little trick to get a baby to take a dummy is to point the teat at the roof of their mouth just like you would when you feed them. It helps to stimulate the sucking reflex. It is entirely up to you on if you choose to use a dummy but you can also give them a feed if you prefer. During my sessions I have Jollypop Dummies available for my clients to try if they haven’t bought their own with them.
I like to set my room temperature to 25 degrees. The reason being is babies like to be warm. I tend to wrap my babies in their sessions so they have added layers to keep them warm. Once the baby is unwrapped they can feel a little cool and I can help warm the room a little with space heater.
Your little person has been swimming around in a gorgeous warm pool for the past 12 months. Even in our summer time which can be over 35 degrees babies can get cool. Keep an eye out for mottling skin which can be a sign that baby is cool. A warm content baby is a sleepy baby. Just don’t let them get too warm so any signs of sweating can be a sign baby is overheating so maybe take off a layer.
Most important of all is to listen to your baby. What do they like? Do they like a tighter swaddle or their arms out a little bit? Do they need a feed to sleep? At the end of the day they are the ones who will tell us what they like we just have to choose to listen.
I hope some of these tips help and if you are unsure about anything please contact your midwife or doctor to check.
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