sleeping, yawning, newborn, baby

Use these ‘five S words’ to soothe your new baby

Why do babies cry? We know that newborn babies cry to have a need tended to. Usually baby is hungry, in pain, cold, overstimulated or they just need to be held. As new parents, we go through this list until we find the solution. But what do we do with baby when nothing is working?

newborn photo, stretching, baby, crying, saol nua photography

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 crying baby. It’s very easy to doubt yourself at times like these but we’ve all been there. 

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 five years. I’ve 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   “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp M.D. Dr Karp available on Amazon, click here. Dr Karp came up with The 5 S’s, a soothing technique for newborns with 5 tried and tested 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.

1. Swaddle

The first step is to swaddle baby reasonably tight. Some parents will tell me their baby doesn’t like it, but 9 out of 10 times, once tried, you’ll realise they actually love it! 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. Here’s a helpful swaddle tutorial

new baby girl swaddled

2. Side or Stomach Position

Many newborns suffer from wind and colic. Holding an upset and crying baby in front of your body on her side or stomach helps to relieve any aches she may have.

baby boy in dad's arms

3. Shush!

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 well. You can vary the sounds by adding womb noises and a heartbeat. You’ll find a really handy portable one on Amazon by clicking here.

4. Swing

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.

mother portrait

5. Suck!

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.

soother, dummy, newborn, sucking

When I feel it’s appropriate, I use these methods during newborn sessions to help babies stay settled and calm. They nearly always work and many parents say that they go on to use them long after I am gone.

I recently heard Erica from Babogue on Ray Darcy’s Radio 1 show sharing her experiences with baby sleep troubles. She is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant. I wish she had been around when mine were younger!
Check her out

I suggest you try or share this article with someone who might benefit and hopefully you will have a happy, calm newborn. Don’t forget if you have some helpful hints yourself include them in the comments below!

You may also like...


  1. […] you seen by post on “How I learned to Soothe a Newborn”? Here I explain how I use the 5 steps to soothing a baby as proven in the book “The Happiest Baby […]

  2. […] relationship she has with her children. “Breastfeeding is my go-to for them, to nourish, bond, calm them, love them. I often tandem feed my children. They will hold hands, hug and kiss each other while I […]

  3. […] might like to read “How I learned to Soothe a Newborn” during my experiences as a newborn photographer. You’ll find a lot of helpful information […]

  4. […] finding it difficult to settle your baby for photos or indeed any time you might find my post of The Five Ss to Soothing your Baby helpful. Let me know what you’ve tried and if it works for […]

  5. […] be handled by anyone but Mum. But I spend time helping to settle (see my blog on this very subject…/How-I-learned-to-soothe-a-newb…) and waiting until baby is ready. Natural newborn sessions don’t take 3 to 4 hours as some […]

Leave a Reply