As a newborn baby, the world is an incredibly fascinating, stimulating and utterly exciting place. Everything is brand new, and although amazing, at times it can also be a little bit overwhelming.
Overstimulation of a baby’s senses are one of many reasons a baby may be restless, but other reasons can include tiredness and trapped wind.
With this in mind, here are 5 tips that work wonders to soothe and calm a baby.
Change of scenery
Babies are just like us and love a change of scenery; some fresh air. Especially as babies become a little older, they will love being out and about for their walk or play and if it falls at around the same time each day; they come to expect it. They can get a little bit grumpy if it doesn’t happen! Sometimes, just going into the garden with baby or taking a walk around can be a lovely change of scenery, greatly helping to keep them content.
As well as being understimulated, babies can also quickly be overstimulated, just as adults can. If you find there is lots of noise, people and things going on and the baby is turning their head away it may be a good sign they have ‘had enough’. Babies can become sensory overloaded and will need you to help them take it down a level. You can do this by going somewhere where it’s a little bit quieter. It’s sort of like when we’ve had a busy day – it’s quite wonderful to have a few minutes of quiet time to catch our breath.
For the beginning part of a baby’s life, they will rely on us to wind them and help to relieve gas; their little bodies can’t quite do it all on their own just yet. When a baby has wind, it is often painful. Wind may come in the form of a burp or gas in their tummy. Often, burping a baby to get rid of wind can help soothe a baby. This can be done by laying a baby down on his/her back and doing bicycle movements with his legs and also by pushing babies legs gently up towards his/her tummy. Laying baby on your lap and rubbing his back can also help to relieve gas.
This is a wonderful tool to use if baby has become overstimulated or overtired. By picking baby up and allowing baby’s head to rest of your shoulder, patting between baby’s shoulder blades, in a very rhythmic way and shushing (not into- but past baby’s ear), you begin to take baby’s attention off of his crying and focusing it on the rhythmic motion of your patting and the soothing sound of your shushing. This should allow you to be able to help baby be calm enough so that you can lay baby in his cot and help baby from there, continuing to pat and shush baby in his cot if he needs, helping him to focus his attention on falling asleep.
Often, an upset baby is a tired baby. Up to 8 months of age it is so important to give a baby naps regularly throughout the day, making sure they are never up for more than 2 hours at a time. This will help to keep baby well rested and content.
Between 8 months and a year, babies will be able to stay up and be active for 2.5- 3 hours. During this time, they will normally drop their later afternoon catnap. By 18 months (earlier in some children, later in others), they will drop their morning nap and be able to get by on one big lunch time nap in the afternoon.
About the author
Tracy Newberry, a baby sleep coach and sleep consultant, is the founder of Happy Baby and Me. She teaches sleep in a gentle reassuring way; never using any of the ‘cry it out methods’. Tracy was passionate about working with children from an early age and began working as a nanny in London when she was 18. A year and a half later, she returned to her home country of South Africa, where she nannied and worked as a nursery school teacher.
Arriving back in London in 2009, Tracy continues to work with families, growing her experience and childcare knowledge. As her passion for teaching sleep grew, she set up her own business Happy Baby and Me. Tracy now helps many babies and young children learn the wonderful skill of falling asleep in a gentle, caring way.