There is so much advice out there for helping babies sleep through the night, helping them self soothe, helping to getting them into a routine etc. Parents will choose whatever works best for them. But sometimes, your baby is simply just unsettled and it’s not as easy as just putting them back to bed. I know at 3am I would try everything to help my babies back to sleep so I’ve put together a little list of tips and tricks that I’ve picked up as a newborn photographer and love to use to help settle little ones in my studio.
Firstly- Is your baby hungry? – Feeding your little one quickly when they are hungry will help them feel secure and happy that when they are next hungry, mummy or daddy will be there.
If this is not the reason for them being unsettled, check their nappy, check their temperature – may they be too hot/cold in what they are wearing?, and make sure they are not crying in discomfort (e.g wind)- this will most likely be a high pitched cry and you may notice them bringing up their legs. If you’re happy that none of these things are causing the crying then you can use some little tricks to try and help settle your little one.
Then you can try the following:
Cuddles – every baby loves cuddles. My little girl slept on my chest every nap time for about 6 months and was her most settled there. My little boy would sleep on his own and self soothed much earlier but is also a huge cuddle monster, crying for me when he was tiny and always wanting to hold my hand now that he’s almost 4! Your little one has grown inside you for 9 months and the outside world can seem like a pretty scary place at times! They will know your smell, they will love your warmth, they will feel huge comfort and feel safe and secure, knowing they are close to you.
If you baby wear, this can also be something to try. I use to do the hoovering whilst wearing my little girl when she really wouldn’t settle. She’d be asleep within minutes!
Swaddling- This isn’t the easiest to do but certainly gets easier with practice and there are loads of youtube videos explaining how to swaddle your baby. You can use a blanket, a large muslin square or purchase a swaddling blanket like this one: groswaddle. This is my ‘go to’ method for unsettled babies in the studio. Swaddling your little one will provide them with the support and security that they love, as well as keeping them nice and toasty (please read advice as to what to put on them underneath their swaddle depending on the temperature of the room).
White Noise- There are loads of apps you can get to play white noise to your little one (I wouldn’t recommend putting your phone in bed with them but just having it in the room may work wonders), or you can get a number of baby shushers or others like Ewan the dream sheep (my little boy’s favourite) that can play a number of sounds e.g heart beat sounds to help settle your baby. These sounds may feel familiar to your baby but they also distract from other sounds and activity that may have woken them up without the white noise.
Pressure Points- everyone has pressure points on their body that can help relaxation. For babies the best ‘sleep button’ is between the eyebrows. Stroking and pushing this point lightly with your finger can give your baby something to focus on, encourage them to shut their eyes, relax and sleep.
Rocking and bouncing- For 9 months, babies are used to feeling all of your movements. Life on the outside can feel a little overwhelming and rocking helps recreate this feeling and so can help calm them down. I was told a million times that I was making a rod for my own back and that I shouldn’t rock my daughter but sometimes it was really the only thing that would send her off to sleep! It always worked for Emily and I remember rocking her in the middle of a restaurant when she was far too big to be rocked, but it was the one thing I knew would get her off to sleep! She’s always been a very good sleeper and this was never affected in the slightest.
Place baby in bed on your t-shirt or blanket- sometime all babies want is mummy. If you cuddle your baby in a blanket place baby in bed on the same blanket. They will know your scent which may help calm them.
Stay calm! I tottally appreciate that this is far easier said than done, especially with your first baby, but babies pick up on stress so the calmer you can stay, the calmer they will feel too.
I think the majority of us have probably had a lockdown birthday by now! My little boys birthday was the week after the first lockdown was announced and we had to cancel his very first birthday party. He was gutted and so were we. So when my little girl’s birthday came a week after lockdown 3, we knew we had to go all out to make it as normal as possible. The ‘novelty’ (if you can even call it that) has well and truly worn off now and I think everyone is finding this lockdown harder than previous ones, especially little ones who find it hard to understand why they can’t see their friends, their grandparents, their cousins etc.
So I’ve put together some ideas- some of the ones we used and some that I didn’t but think look great!
Treat them to a wow cake! We usually buy a cake from the supermarket but as we couldn’t book a party for Emily we thought we’d get her an amazing cake! We got a beautiful mermaid cake that she absolutely loved! Its difficult to get out and about to collect with restrictions but it may be worth trying to find a cake maker close to you to collect on your daily walk, I know there are plenty in our village!
Decorate! Emily loves to decorate the house for parties, not with anything huge or fancy but with her own handmade little decorations and drawings, so we had to decorate for her. There are some amazing companies out there offering ecoparty decorations- you can hire the decorations, foil balloons, party plates and table pieces etc and then send it back once your done. Check out https://www.facebook.com/EcoPartyKits/, they are unable to offer collection during the lockdown but may be able to deliver and also have some wonderful little gifts.
Zoom Party- There are so many companies offering really fun zoom parties at the moment. Emily and her friends absolutely loved it and honestly, it was just so so nice for them to all see eachother. We used https://www.especiallyforyouparties.co.uk/ and they were absolutely brilliant! There are plenty of others offering discos, escape rooms for older children, craft parties where the crafts are sent out to the participants beforehand. Well worth a look and loads of fun for littlies, especially those that are missing nursery and school friends.
Get them involved in the planning! Get the teddies involved too if you have to and have a little house party 😊 Emily didn’t know about the party, the cake or the decorations but she planned the rest of the day. She knew she wanted to open her presents first thing in the morning (obviously!) and then zoom Nanny and Bampy. She chose her favourite lunch and dinner and we told her we could celebrate for the whole weekend as we were in lockdown! If you’re little one has a sweet tooth why not order afternoon tea or a treat box. We ordered a box and a half from Bake Shrewsbury for my birthday last year and it was amazing! The kids shared the half box and me and Stu the other and it was a lovely treat. There was loads too and we were eating cake for days- you can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/BakeShrewsbury. They also do the most amazing brownies!!
Present treasure hunt- you may not be able to play all the usual party games so why not create a present treasure hunt and hide the presents around the house and let them go find them? We also zoomed Emily’s grandparents while she was opening her presents so they could be involved as best as they could be. I know this was just as special for my parents as it was for Emily.
Go for a walk to drop of some party bags to friends and family. Make sure you stick to social distancing measures and leave them on the door step.
Balloons and Dancing- My two absolutely love balloons, in fact they stay up for months after in our house because they keep them occupied for hours! Why not fill the floor with balloons and let them have some fun! And of course, put some of your little one’s favourite songs on and let them have a dance in the house- this is something we make a point of doing daily at the moment!
Cinema night!- Get some popcorn and a film and snuggle up on the sofa with some blankets. My two love doing this (I think mainly for the popcorn to be honest). Let the birthday boy or girl pick the film and make a night of it. If your little one has siblings, there are a number of companies that rent out teepees for indoor sleepovers- check outhttps://ticklemyparty.com/. They also have some great blogs on planning sleepover parties for siblings and screen free entertainment for children during lockdown.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope you’re little one has an amazing birthday. In such strange times, it’s nice to have just a tiny bit of normal.
I spend hours looking for new things to do in Shropshire. Before my little girl started school in September, we used to have girly Monday’s and I started the list so that we would always have something new to do. The list grew and lots of people helped contribute more ideas so now we have a helpful list of places to visit with children around Shropshire.
Last year this list proved really popular, so I have produced one for this year too. Obviously this year is a little bit different- as we come out of lockdown there are still a number of places that are shut, limited opening hours etc. For this reason, I have not included softplay centres on the list- but if they reopen during the summer I will add to the list. There are still some indoor attractions on the list, but please check beforehand if they have reopened. There is a link attached to almost every attraction so it should be easy enough to access this information.
I have also attached a free downloadable PDF checklist for you to print and pop on the fridge and check them off as you go.
If you have any more suggestions, please let me know, and feel free to share this far and wide. Help the mummies and daddies that are in need of a new place to go after so many weeks being at home!
As we entered lockdown and I had to explain to my children why we wouldn’t be able to see family and friends for a little while, it got me thinking about the importance of family, the importance of capturing the precious moments and the importance of photography to preserve these memories. It also made me realise that I don’t have a single photograph of my children with myself, my husband and my parents altogether! I was pretty horrified by this realisation and I have no idea why I didn’t realise this sooner. Anyway, I got on the internet to hunt down a photographer whose style I love, in South Wales who can capture my family together, and I plan to have that image printed huuuuge for the walls! Of course I have plenty of individual parent/grandparent photos with my children (and my children love looking at all the photos on our photo wall!) but I’m desperate for one together! One that can be passed onto my children, and their children. I can’t wait!
How many photos do you have of your little one your partner and you? How many aren’t selfies? Apart from our professional photoshoots, we barely get any. I take loads of my kids with my husband in a few. He takes some of me and the kids. Never do we get one altogether. But they are important! In a long time from now, photographs will be how my children remember me! If I’m not in them, what will they have to look through. Certainly USB’s will be long gone, just like CD’s are on their way out.
But it got me thinking about my sessions. And just how many parents ask not to be photographed at their baby’s newborn photoshoot. It’s hardly surprising as mum will have just given birth but I always ask (multiple times) in an attempt to convince them that it’s worth it!
There is no better time than when you are in the studio anyway! I’ve got 2 children myself. I know mum’s especially wont necessary feel like getting ready for a photoshoot. You’re both probably surviving on minimal sleep and your far from feeling your best! But you’ll receive photographs at flattering angles, captured memories of unposed moments that show pure love between you and you baby and family images that wont be able to be captured after the newborn stage has passed. After all, they don’t fit in your arms like this for too long!
Parent images are absolutely some of my favourite to capture! There is nothing like seeing the love and adoration parents have for their brand new baby. A little look or a kiss on the head are little things that we don’t think twice about, but make the most beautiful images!
And they can be as simple as you like. This is one of my absolute favourite poses. Simple. Timeless. Beautiful!
And of course, if you don’t like them, you don’t choose them! You have nothing to lose!
I loved breastfeeding. I didn’t manage it with my little girl so I was really happy that I could breastfeed my son for the first year. I’ll be honest though, I couldn’t wait to get back into my pre-pregnancy tops and dresses. I found so much lovely, comfortable maternity wear during both my pregnancies, but really struggled to find nursing clothing that I actually thought looked and fitted nicely. I often fed Edward while we were out and about so it was important to me that I had nursing wear that was really easy to feed in. I spent the year in clothes I didn’t particularly like or feel very confident in.
With that in mind, I have searching the internet for companies that offer a good selection of nursing wear so that the mummies that follow my work don’t get stuck with the same problem (especially whilst we are in the middle of a pandemic and don’t necessarily want to pop into town!). I’m so pleased to see so many companies now producing nursing wear! I just wish I had known about them 3 years ago.
Where to buy in Shrewsbury-
Jojo Maman Bebe- The Square, shrewsbury
You can find a beautiful selection of maternity and nursing wear in Jojo Maman Bebe! And it’s all super comfortable! I purchased a dress from there towards the end of our feeding journey and I wish I had got it sooner! They have everything you could possibly need- bra, tops, dresses as well as feeding supports.
I fist came across this company when I was searching for maternity outlets for my maternity clothing blog. They have a range of really fun, beautiful nursing clothing. It is so easy to find on their site and they have a gorgeous kids range too for your little one!
I was really pleasantly surprised when I found this ‘breastfeeding friendly clothing’ section on the Sainsburys website! Such a good idea! Their items aren’t necessarily all modified for feeding specifically and I can’t see much in the way of hidden access (though there are a few items with these) but there are some lovely dresses and tops that would be really straight forward to feed in!