In many of my newborn sessions, new parents ask me if I can come home and help settle their baby, especially at night. As a mum of 3, I remember those early days of parenthood, with a brand new human at home with us and trying to get it all right.
I remember pacing the hallway at all hours of the day and night, bouncing on a yoga ball, or going for long drives with Brahms Lullaby playing. Anything to get this tiny human to settle and go to sleep.
I remember my first baby who would only sleep for 20 minute intervals during the day, and my second baby who wanted to be fed every 2 hours, even when the previous feed had taken over an hour to complete! I remember being more tired than I had ever been in my life.
After 3 babies, 3 very different babies as far as sleeping and settling go, these are my top 5 tips for settling your newborn that really made a difference for me.
When you’re breastfeeding it’s hard to know when your baby has had enough. Trying to keep them awake long enough finish a feed fully can be a real challenge in those early weeks. A few things I did to help make sure they had a good feed:
- Clothes off. A warm baby is much more likely to fall asleep when feeding so taking their clothes off helps. I didn’t want them to be cold, but stripped down to their nappy and warm against me whilst they fed, was just enough sensation to help keep them awake.
- I tickled their feet as they fed to just stimulate them a little.
- Changing their nappy halfway through the feed helped to wake them back up if they had dropped off to sleep.
Babies don’t always burp straight away after a feed, it can take a little while and they all have their own unique little preferences about how best to get that burp to come up. My husband was best at burping our babies and found holding them up on his shoulder and patting their back or bottom was the best way to get them to burp.
I found sitting my babies on my lap with their little head supported in my hand worked best for me. Or even lying my babies across my knee and patting their backs.
It can take a little while to work out what works best for your baby so don’t be afraid to try a few different things until you find what works for you and your baby.
My first baby had such a strong relaxation response to being swaddled it was adorable to watch. He could be crying and angry and beside himself, but as soon as his first arm was wrapped securely next to his body he started to calm, his eyes would begin to close and he would have calmed down by the time I had him all wrapped up.
My 3rd baby loved to be in her Love to Dream Swaddle with her arms up by her face, but she too started to relax and calm as soon as she was in her swaddle. I just wish I had of had these zip up swaddles with my first 2 babies, it made the exahusted-middle-of-the-night swaddling so much easier!
There are lots of different techniques for wrapping, so find the one that is easiest for you but always remember to wrap firmly so they can’t escape too easily.
If you have a winter baby it’s easier as summer babies can get quite warm so it is best to use a lighter wrap in summer.
4. White noise
I use white noise in all my newborn sessions. It has put all my newborn clients to sleep and even a few parents! I used white noise with my first baby as well, and with my subsequent babies it was definitely a must with all the noise their older siblings created.
Having sound playing while your baby sleeps means that they are less likely to wake at a loud noise. Keeping the house completely quiet was never an option for me and would usually lead to even the quietest noise causing my babies to wake crying.
5. The 4 S’s
When my first baby was brand new, and we were totally overwhelmed, our paediatrician gave us a video about the 4 S’s of settling our baby.
It literally changed our lives. When all else failed we would make sure these 4 things were done and we would soon have a happy baby.
We would swaddle our baby, give him a dummy to suck, hold him on his side and we would swing or rock him back and forth. We had a rocking chair which was perfect for exhausted parents, but walking around with him in a carrier or sling, or going for a walk with him in the stroller or even a drive in the car, all served the same purpose of creating movement for our baby.
Babies are in constant motion in the womb, and recreating this movement really helped to sooth our babies in those early days, weeks and months.
One final bonus tip for settling your newborn! Brushing your finger gently down your babies nose or over their eyes can help them drift off to sleep in those final moments when they are fighting sleep with all their might.
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