As a fine art Dallas newborn photographer and mother to three children, I have had the opportunity to soothe a lot of babies over the years. I’ve learned that all babies have different personalities, things they like and dislike, and preferred methods for being soothed. However, I have discovered a number of tools that are almost always universally helpful when soothing a fussy baby. I’m sharing my top tips for soothing babies learned over a decade of photographing newborns.
1) Warmth: During a newborn session we attempt to create a womb-like environment. The first step towards achieving this is to heat our studio to a warm and toasty 78 degrees and then utilize a space heater during certain portions of the session. We are always careful to regulate baby’s temperature so they do not get too warm. If the space heater is directed at baby we make sure it is hitting us first so we can adjust the temperature or location if it is too warm. Especially during a diaper change, we will use the space heater and most babies will sleep right through it.
2) Feeding: Newborns especially can have an unpredictable feeding schedule. They go through growth spurts and sometimes have a voracious appetite. During our newborn sessions, we sometimes stop for a break to ensure our little clients are well fed and happy.
3) Clean Diaper: No baby likes a dirty or soiled diaper next to their skin. Ensuring baby has a clean diaper can add to their comfort level. During sessions we warm wipes (usually between our hands) and gently clean baby.
4) Swaddling: Continuing with the womb-like theme we often begin our sessions by swaddling baby. Nearly every baby LOVES this. They are used to being pretty cramped in the womb and having their limbs close in tight to their bodies can be very comforting. We use a breathable and stretchy jersey knit fabric in a color suited to the image we plan to create, sometimes adding two or three of these stretch wraps. Even the fussiest baby will usually settle and fall to sleep once they are swaddled snuggly. When teaching other newborn photographers this is probably the most important of the tips for soothing babies for them to learn.5) White Noise: Babies have been listening to the constant sounds of the womb. Complete silence and/or startling loud sounds can be disconcerting. I’ve found that even the sound of my shutter or the flashing sound of our studio strobes can startle a baby if there is no other constant noise. During newborn sessions, we always keep a constant white noise nearby at a moderate level.
6) Rubbing Brow: When I’m posing a baby and they are not quite fully asleep I will often rub my finger over their brown gently in a back and forth motion. If they don’t seem to like that I will gently press between their brows with my thumb. Not every baby responds to this but a lot love it. If needed, I’ll make a shushing sound near their ear while rubbing their brow as well. The combination can put even the most stubborn baby to sleep in seconds.
During our sessions, we follow baby’s lead and try to read the clues they are giving us to determine what it is they need. Every baby is different and part of the joy of photographing newborns is getting to know each new, tiny personality. By creating a soothing environment for your little one, we are then able to create those stunning, one of a kind fine art images that you will love.
We hope you enjoyed and learned from these top tips for soothing babies. Later this week we will share part two of our post on the top tips for soothing babies with six more helpful ideas for soothing your newborn.
To learn more about booking your fine art newborn session please contact us here. If you are an aspiring newborn photographer and would like more information on mentoring with us please email Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org.