As a newborn photographer, I’ve seen my share of babies want no part of being in front of the camera. Part of my job is to be able to soothe fussy babies, and their worried parents when things aren’t going as planned. So, I’m going to share a few of my secrets that help me calm babies so I can create the portraits that my parents’ love.
Some of these might seem obvious, and some not so much, but here are 6 ways to pacify a cranky baby:
Many parents tell me that their baby hates being swaddled and then are in complete awe when I swaddle their child and the screaming stops. Honestly, 95% of babies really do feel more secure when they are swaddled and can calm down after they are fully wrapped up.
Imagine what happens when you are riding on a bumpy car ride. Your head just jiggles a little with the movement of the car. Babies are used to having their little heads in a slight, constant motion all day long because every movement mom made kept their head moving in the womb. When I am trying to calm your baby, you’ll see me either slightly bounce my knee, or vibrate my hand to create this motion.
Make sure the baby isn’t getting hot. Parents are often so concerned that their baby doesn’t get cold that they layer them too much. To see if your little one is too hot, check the back of the neck and the soles of the feet for moisture. Those are the only places that newborn babies sweat since the rest of their sweat glands are still too immature.
While I don’t do this in the studio, I absolutely recommend that parents give the baby a bath right before they come for their session to help them sleep. Baths wear a baby out. It works the same way for adults. You know how sleepy you feel after soaking in a tub. The massage that you give with the washcloth also helps tire them out. They may cry through the entire bath, but it will dramatically shorten the crying fit.
Swing them in their car carrier for a bit. This works the same way as the head jiggle, but it provides their whole body with a swaying motion. Once you’ve strapped them in, just pick up the carrier and do a few back-and-forth swings. Within 10 seconds, a well-baby should stop crying.
This is my tried and true soothing trick that I tell every parent I work with. If your baby just won’t stop crying, just pick them up and walk outside! I’m not sure if it is the vastness of the outdoors or the fresh air that does the trick, but walking around outside helps them take a breath and calm down. It won’t last very long if they aren’t feeling well, but sometimes just breaking the crying cycle ends the screaming.
I hope this gives you a few more tricks to use when your new baby is just not calming down. I share plenty more during each newborn session, but I don’t promise to be available for those 1 am wakings! Reach out if you’d like to learn more about my newborn and family photography sessions.