How to get your baby to sleep
By Channon Williamson Photography
Your friends and family keep telling you to sleep while you can, but you’re still in that honeymoon phase. It's so exciting to be expecting your first baby and and no-one can tell you how something feels if you haven’t actually experienced it. It’s impossible to imagine.
So your baby is placed in your arms, that sweet beautiful soul, and your heart bursts, tears flow and you feel complete. The first few days are a bit of a blur but you’re so in love and euphoric you ignore the tiredness. By day 7 it starts to creep in and suddenly the reality of no sleep starts to sink in and you begin to understand what it feels like.
If you know me, you will know I don’t do well on little sleep, if you don’t me and meet me on a day when I haven’t had enough sleep, I can be a bit snappy. I’m sorry for that – it plays havoc with me. And without my husband’s support and learning some of these techniques I would never have made it through the early days.
As a Newborn Photographer in Perth, when mummies come in for their newborn sessions, they nearly all ask how I get those babies to sleep so I can capture those early precious new days. It is quite important for them to be in a deep sleep to achieve some of the shots. So I thought I would share how I do it.
First things first, your baby needs to be fed, happy (no nagging belly aches or medical issues), clean (no wet/soiled nappies) and burped.
I then use 5 common techniques to help calm and soothe your baby into a deep sleep. You can use these methods at home too. I learned some of these techniques when my second daughter was born and it made a big difference to our lives and our sanity. I understand everyone has their own views so please do understand this is what worked for me and my family and it’s what works in the studio.
Top Tips For getting a Sleepy Baby
I keep the studio at a very cosy 30C – this for me is one of the most important tools in my arsenal. Your new baby is unable to control his/her own body temperature. Babies can lose heat rapidly, as much as four times more quickly than adults. So keeping the room warm is critical. I often feel their little toes and if they feel cold I know it’s too cold – I know I can’t get to sleep with cold feet. I wouldn’t keep his/her room this temperature at home – around 26C would probably be more comfy because they would be clothed and wrapped.
We often have babies naked so it’s essential I keep them warm. It’s not unusual for me to finish a session dripping in sweat and bub will be fast asleep.
2. White Noise
The biggest mistake I made with our first was trying to keep the environment quiet. I learned very quickly though and with the second I made sure we always had noise – she slept through a rock concert.
When your baby is in your womb she is listening to all the whooshing noises in your body, your heartbeat and all the outside noises of the world, even though muted he/she is not living in a quiet world. So it’s no wonder they become unhappy at night – suddenly thrust into that very quiet open space. In the studio I use an white noise App on my phone, you can also buy a baby shusher . I found an old fashioned radio in my daughter’s nursery set low on static worked a treat.
So many mum’s tell me their baby hates being wrapped. I find the opposite true 99% of the time. Just remember your baby has come from one of the most secure,warm and noisy environments and he will love being swaddled or wrapped properly. Almost every fussy baby I have had has settled once they are securely wrapped. – It also helps to warm them up – remember point 1.
This is perfect for newborn photography – I wouldn’t make it this tight for home or extended periods of time, but keeping those hands secure goes a long way to keeping her comfy and feeling secure and sleepy.
4. Stroking the nose and forehead
Gently stroking the babies nose in a slow rhythmic motions forces them to close their eyes. Starting from the brow and working downward just between the eyes really helps them to get sleepy As you do this sway gently from side to side.
5. A Dummy
This can be controversial, but I am a huge HUGE fan of the dummy. I was determined with my first that she would not have a dummy – oh boy did I live to regret that. So with the second it was dummy from the get go. Babies like to suck to fall asleep, and with the second I refused to be that dummy. I always advise mum to bring a dummy to the session – even if they don’t want to use one. It’s sometimes all we need to get them calm, happy and sleepy.
6. Patience and consistency
This is the most important point. Once you have made sure baby is fed, burped and clean. I make sure there is warmth and noise. Then I use the sway and stroking techniques. It can take up to 15 – 20 minutes to get them really sleepy – so you do need to be patient and remain calm yourself.
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.