Tips and Tricks for Settling your Baby to Sleep
There is so much advice out there for helping babies sleep through the night, helping them self soothe, getting them into a routine etc. Parents will choose whatever works best for them. But sometimes, baby is simply just unsettled and it’s not as easy as just putting them back to bed. I know at 3am I would have tried anything 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 if bottle feeding) 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.
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 almost most settled there. My little boy was exactly the same, in fact he’s now 3 and still loves cuddling up. 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 and they will feel huge comfort in 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: https://gro.co.uk/product/groswaddle/. Wrapping is always my ‘go to’ 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 spot is between the eyes. Stroking this point lightly with your finger can encourage them to shut their eyes they will often fall asleep very quickly.
- Rocking- 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 helps calm them down. If you can face your little one away from you, even better- babies are very good at smelling mummies milk! 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! And now she sleeps amazingly at 5 years old!
- 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 while may help calm them.
- Sucking- babies love to suck for comfort. They aren't for everyone but I don't think I could have been without dummies for my two! Thank fully the dummy fairy collected both without too much resistance!
- Stay calm! Your baby will pick up on your stress.
Super helpful video showing some of what I've talked about here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMM7CrIeBfA