Tips and Tricks for Settling your baby to Sleep- by baby photographer, Victoria J Photograph
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.