Updated: Dec 13, 2022
There is nothing more stressful as a brand new parent than having to listen to your tiny little bundle that you love more than anything in the world crying, and not being able to figure out why. Having been through the Newborn Phase twice before with my boys and dealing with colic, tongue/lip ties, and pretty intense reflux with my younger son, and also having handled and photographed many other families new babies, I have learnt a few tricks and have become very comfortable with soothing tiny cranky babies! New parents often voice their surprise during their sessions with how easy the session was and that I am able to calm their babies when they're fussy, so I thought I would make a little post on tips that I use to calm your new baby when they're fussy.
1. This might seem obvious but the first thing I always ask parents at Newborn sessions is when baby ate last. Babies that are even the slightest bit hungry can be restless and cranky. You may be on a cluster feeding day, so even if you've just recently fed them and they are not settling, it never hurts to offer baby the breast or bottle.
2. Second thing that is an obvious one would be to check their diaper.
3. Third thing, if baby has eaten recently and they are acting very squirmy like they are uncomfortable or pulling their legs up to their chest, I will try to get another burp or two out of them which can make a world of difference. My younger son had lip and tongue ties so he would swallow alot of air when feeding for the first three months, this made him extremely cranky after every feed, but getting extra burps out of him would always help!
The fourth thing I will do if a baby isn't settling at a session is I will place them on their back on my lap, cross their arms on their chest like a little baby straight jacket, and cross/fold their legs in and hold them against their body so that they can't stretch their legs out. This will work 99% of the time because it makes baby feel secure. While holding them in this position, I will slowly wrap them up without letting their arms or legs fly free. When babies are able to flail their arms and legs around they don't feel secure and they will cry every time! Another thing I make sure to do while I'm wrapping them is to gently move my legs back and forth while 'shushing'. Babies are so accustomed to the movement and sound in the womb so this little trick always helps. Did you ever notice when you were pregnant how baby always seemed to start moving the most the second you laid down in bed and were getting ready to go to sleep? They are the exact same once they are out in the world and stillness and silence will mean party time for them!
5. One of the most important things I have in studio or will bring along to a session is my space heater. I always have clients telling me that their baby absolutely hates being naked. If the temperature is warm and comfortable for them, and I take care to not let their arms and legs fly free, babies generally don't mind being naked or having me change them.
5. If after all of this baby is still unhappy (which has happened maybe once or twice) I will make sure to keep baby in an upright position for the session. I learnt with my younger son that laying him flat on his back was extremely uncomfortable for him because of his reflux. Imagine you ate a giant meal and had intense heart burn, the most uncomfortable thing you could do is lay flat on your back! So I will make sure I hold baby upright or prop them up slightly during the session to help keep them comfortable and allow them to fall asleep.
6. Babies can become overstimulated quite easily. If there is alot of sound and alot going on and they aren't getting quality sleep they can become very unsettled to the point it will feel like nothing you do is helping them. Sometimes it just helps to wrap them up so they're warm and comfortable and pass baby off to someone with a calm energy that can basically bore them back to sleep. I do find babies also sometimes tend to be the fussiest in their Mothers arms or even when they hear their Mothers voice next to them because they feel so safe with them (and they may also be their only food source so they automatically just think it's eat time). All I can say about this is to be easy on yourself, you are doing your best, and it is okay to hand baby off to someone else!
I hope some of these tips help you when you inevitably have a fussy period with your new baby. These are only tips to try, there are a multitude of other reasons your baby may be fussy - I am not a medical expert and if you are worried about prolonged periods of crying of course speak with babys' doctor.