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Annie shares her top tips to help settle a newborn baby . . . 
 
1) Touch 
 
Skin to skin – Oxytocin is naturally produced by the hypothalamus in response to stimuli, such as skin to skin contact. This is then released in both baby and parents, promoting a calm relaxed sensation. As oxytocin is released it also interacts with dopamine (a neurotransmitter that transmits signals between the nerve cells of the brain), which is important in learning, behaviour, well-being, attention and motivation. Touch producing oxytocin also initiate the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain reliever and feel-good hormones so can ease discomfort and pain & settle your baby if they are in pain. 
 
Baby Massage – There is lots of skin to skin contact in infant massage, which in turn helps stimulate the hypothalamus part of the brain to produce lots of oxytocin. Oxytocin as mentioned therefore relaxes both parents & baby. Because of this, it assists in encouraging a lovely bond between both mum/dad and baby also. 
2) Listening to your Baby 
 
Take time to listen to your baby and get to know their cries and noises. One to one time or quiet time with your partner and baby provides the perfect opportunity to get to know your baby. 
Listen to their cries – Are they hungry? Do they have wind? Do they want reassurance and love? Do they need their nappy changing? Are they too hot or too cold? Are they overstimulated or not stimulated enough? 
Try not to just plug them in with a dummy, as often they are telling you something. They may soothe with a dummy, but you may have been able to resolve the issue without it. All babies cry, some more than others. This is how babies communicate with us and it can definitely get our attention! 
3) Holding your Baby 
 
Babies feel reassured if you hold them close to your body with some firmness, especially when you are transporting them from one place to another. It will give you the parent and the baby confidence that you have them securely and safely in your arms. Often if a Midwife or Health Professional holds your baby, your baby will settle. That’s because we are used to holding babies and do hold them firmly. It doesn’t reflect how good you are as a parent if your baby doesn’t settle in your arms but definitely holding your baby with confidence will have a positive effect on your baby. 
When you hold your baby, talk to them. Your voice reassures your baby but is also vital in your baby’s development in learning how to communicate, make sounds and ultimately to start talking. 
Stroke your baby whilst you hold them. Again it releases the love hormone Oxytocin, helping your baby be calm and relaxed. 
On occasions, babies don’t want to be held. They may be overstimulated and need time on their own to settle with you close by. Or they may be too hot. When you hold your baby to soothe them it makes them more agitated. 
4) Environment 
 
Babies are reassured by noise, especially as their vision is short when they are first born. Babies are used to your heart beating, therefore noises in the background of your room are helpful. Don’t avoid making noises, do your normal housework, hoovering, washing, using the tumble dryer etc. Babies love and feel reassured with a contact dull tone of an appliance. Other items may be a hairdryer or the radio/TV. So long as the baby is directly involved in the noise then you will see it helps to settle your new baby. (Noises shouldn’t be too loud.) 
Babies settle with recognisable smells. Often parents put an item of worn clothing near the cot or at the bottom of the cot. (Need to ensure there would be no opportunity for a loose item in the cot that could potentially be a risk to baby’s safety. e.g. near their head.) 
When you hold your baby they can smell your skin and be reassured by that, as they recognise you as their parents. Avoid strong toiletries and perfumes, as you both get used to each others smells. Avoid toiletries on your babies skin too for this reason also. 
Lighting can be used to settle your baby. As your baby starts to grow, dim the lights on an evening. Eventually, they will learn about night and day. Be quiet on a night time, babies do not need overstimulating at night. 
Babies are often all back to front with night and day. Babies will usually be awake more through the night, as they feed more frequently during the night. Also as it’s quiet during the night they can feel more unsettled, having a background noise initially on a night can help with settling. Prolactin is a hormone that helps build and maintain your milk supply. In the early weeks of breastfeeding, prolactin receptors are being laid down in your breasts to help regulate the amount of milk your body needs to make to feed your baby. The more prolactin you have, the more milk your body makes. Prolactin levels rise with suckling; the more a baby nurses the higher the prolactin levels. Prolactin levels are higher at night and nursing at night helps to establish a strong milk supply for the duration of breastfeeding. 
5) New Parents 
 
To ease into being a new parent, prepare yourselves as much as possible! Attend antenatal classes, such as Blooming babies, Midwife-led Couples, and Mums Antenatal classes. 
Have reasonable expectations of how you as a parent will be and how your baby will be. Allow time out of your day antenatally to get to know your baby. 
Ask for help. Don’t think you can’t ask. For many new parents, this is the first time being in contact with a baby. 
Conflicting information. Please ask the health professional for advice, it should be consistent with their guidance. It will be objective. Unfortunately, answers are not always black and white. Babies are unique, what works for one baby might not work for another. However, advice given by Health Professionals is the most reliable and up to date information. Challenge answers if they don’t seem realistic or correct. Sometimes you need to just go with your gut instinct as a new parent. So long as it’s safe practice your judgement will be right. You are the people who are with your baby the most. Trust your instinct! 
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