Five S's for Soothing your Newborn

Five S’s for Soothing Your Newborn

Five tips from a newborn specialist and NICU nurse on how to calm and soothe your newborn.

By Megan Matula

Megan Matula Newborn Photography

Some of my clients have called me a baby whisperer. I’ve even had parents ask if I can come home with them for the night. Aside from many years working as a NICU nurse, I also spent some time working as a newborn care specialist, going to homes of new parents and teaching them to care for their little ones. While my job does take some patience and practice, I also have a few tricks up my sleeve. I wanted to share some of these tricks to help new parents make it through those first few exhausting weeks. (Get excited, Mama, these really do work!)

Let me introduce you to Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block. He breaks everything down into the 5 S’s for soothing your baby. Think of your baby in the womb. It’s dark and warm with a constant swishing noise and gentle swaying motion. So how can we make the transition from the womb to this bright, loud world of our’s a little easier on baby? Dr. Karp talks about 5 S’s for a happy baby.

1. Swaddle: Newborns love the tight boundaries they’ve been used to for the last 9 months. Swaddling a baby decreases startling and gives the baby a sense of security.

Swaddled newborn


2. Side or Stomach Position: Be sure to place infants on their backs for safe sleeping, but if baby is awake and fussy, holding them on their sides or over your shoulder on their stomachs is a great way to calm them.

newborn sleeping on side

3. Shush: Your baby has spent the last 9 months with a constant whooshing noise- the sound of your blood flow. So naturally, this noise has been proven to comfort them. In my studio, you’ll find a white noise machine, but one of my favorites is the Baby Shusher. You can find it on Amazon, and it’s truly amazing!

4. Swing: Life for your baby in the womb was very jiggly. A constant soothing motion. Swinging or swaying with baby (while supporting the head and neck) is a nice way to mimic that motion to soothe your baby.

5. Suck: Babies are born with a suck reflex. For obvious reasons, the suck reflex is needed for baby to eat. However, the suck reflex is also a known way for baby to soothe himself. Whether it be the breast, a pinky finger or a pacifier, allowing the baby to suck is a sure way to keep him calm.

newborn using a bottle, suck

If your baby is full and dry, but still fussing, give the 5 S’s a shot. As with anything, practice makes perfect, but I firmly believe Dr. Karp’s method is a great place to start to keep baby calm.

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