5 Tips for New Parents on Soothing a Newborn

Let’s face it, having a newborn isn’t easy.  Of course we love our newborns and want to be able to feel like we know how to care for them, but all too often new parents don’t know the tips that other seasoned moms and dads know.  Babies can’t tell you what is wrong, and that can often leave parents guessing on what to do when the baby is crying.  One thing to keep in mind is that a newborn spent 40 weeks inside a tight, confined. loud space.  In the early newborn stage, if new parents can mimic the womb, there is a good chance baby will feel more content.  Dr. Harvey Karp developed what is known as the 5 S’s in his book “The Happiest Baby on the Block.”  And for those wondering, the Nashville Public Library has a copy of both the book and the DVD that explains his method for soothing newborns.  I had my first baby over a decade ago (Oh goodness, am I that old?!) and I vividly remember praising these methods after learning them.  The 5 S’s are:


This first step at mimicking the womb, is to swaddle.  It gives baby a good sense of security being all wrapped up.  Talk to your doctor about safe swaddling options, and if you should swaddle when your baby is sleeping.  See Healthy Children.Org for more tips about swaddling safely.


Let me first say that this is not for a sleeping baby.  Sleeping babies should be on their backs for sleeping to reduce the possibility of SIDS.  (learn more about SIDS and the Back to Sleep Campaign.) With that said, if you have a fussy baby, holding them in your arms on their side when they are awake can be very soothing to a baby.


No, it’s not rude to shush a baby.  The womb is a very loud place to be, and newborns often feel more content when there is a loud shushing sound nearby.  It’s not unusual to hear a mom say her baby will stop crying when she starts to vacuum.  A lot of great white noise machines are available specifically for babies.  You can even download white noise apps for your phone to try out different types of sounds.  So when your nurse starts shushing in your baby in the hospital, she’s not being rude.  She just knows your baby probably likes it.


Newborn babies love movement.  For 40 weeks they were jiggled around while their mom moved through her day.  So jiggling movements are what they are used to.  Vibration or bouncy chairs are great, or gently jiggling a baby in your arms can be very helpful.  Please note, we are talking about small, soft rocking movements, where baby’s head is fully supported.  It may sound weird, but think of how Jell-O jiggles when it moves.  Never shake a baby.  Shaking a baby can cause shaken baby syndrome.


Oh the beloved/hated pacifier.  We all know that babies love to suck, it is a way they soothe themselves.  Baby’s sucking needs can be given through bottle feeding, breastfeeding, pacifiers, and fingers/thumbs.  Lots of breastfeeding experts recommend only introducing a pacifier if breastfeeding is going well.  Check with your doctor or lactation expert for finding out what is right for you.  Or you may have a baby like all of mine who refused to use a pacifier.  One of mine decided to use me as a human pacifier.  The other two found their thumb and fingers to soothe themselves.  (The AAP on pacifiers.)


So much of being new parents and caring for a newborn is trial and error, but hopefully some of these tips will help you as you and your baby figure each other out.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. The information contained in this article is not a substitute for health and medical advice that can be provided by your own medical doctor or your child’s medical doctor. I cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions, and I accept no liability for any injury or damage you may incur. Always seek medical counsel relating to your specific circumstances as needed. You agree that the information on our Website is not medical advice and Harpeth Photography, LLC is not liable for how you use and implement the information you receive. You should always consult with your physician for newborn care advice.  Harpeth Photography, LLC does not endorse any products mentioned or products sold by people mentioned in this article.

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