How I learned to soothe a newborn

"I certainly had moments as a new mother when I had tried everything, nothing seemed to help"

Written by Teresa Devenney, mum and photographer at Saol Nua.
Newborn babies cry for a reason. Sometimes it's the only way parents know that their baby has a need. Usually baby is hungry, in pain, cold, overstimulated or they just need to be held. As new parents, we usually go through this list until we find the solution. But what do we do when nothing is working?
I certainly had moments as a new mother when I had tried everything, nothing seemed to help and I just didn't know how to soothe my newborn baby. 
I wish I had known about these soothing techniques when I was a new mother
My children are older now and I've been working as a newborn and family photographer for four years. I had to learn how to keep a baby content during a shoot or I wouldn't be able to do my job. This is when I came upon and  "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp M.D. Dr Karp came up with The 5 S's, a soothing technique for newborns with 5 steps.
Basically the 5 S's mimic the womb environment. After birth, newborns suddenly find themselves in a strange, bright and cold environment. By using the 5 soothing techniques of Swaddling, Side/Stomach position, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking, the womb is replicated and baby will be almost immediately calmed and comforted.
The first step is to swaddle baby reasonably tight. By keeping the arms and legs secure the startle reflexes are eliminated and this keeps baby feeling snug and secure. She might cry while being swaddled but will calm down really quickly once the swaddle is secure.
Side or Stomach Position
Many newborns suffer from wind and colic. Holding baby in front of your body on her side or stomach helps to relieve any aches she may have.
Shushing is the third 'S' and should be done nice and loud, close to baby's ear so she can hear it over her crying. Otherwise it is just and irritant and won't help to soothe. Can you imagine how noisy it is inside the womb? Try to replicate this with your shushing. White noise machines can also work really here and are available here.
The fourth step in the 5 S's is swinging. Newborns have just spent months being jiggled about and rocked to sleep. Fast, small movements to jiggle baby to sleep or just a state of calm work best.
Sucking is the final step to soothing your newborn. The action of breastfeeding, bottle feeding or sucking a soother satisfies baby's natural urge and can soothe almost immediately after following the 5 S's from step one.
When I feel it's appropriate, I use these methods during newborn sessions to help babies stay settled and calm. They always work and many parents say that they go on to use them long after I am gone.

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