One of my favorite child sleep books is "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Dr. Harvey Karp. It's a quick read with an interesting perspective on babies from many different cultures. It is a great tool for new born babies (what Dr. Karp calls the "4th trimester") and how to keep them calm and get them to sleep.
Dr. Karp calls the first 3 months of a baby's life the 4th trimester because he believes they still crave that feeling of being in the womb and that some babies are so fussy because they aren't quite ready for this big hectic world. The main focus of his book is the 5 different techniques, all beginning with S, he finds helpful in recreating this safe and calming atmosphere. Here is a list of the 5 techniques and how and why they work!
Swaddling a fussy or sleeping baby can help give them that snug feeling of being inside the womb. It also prevents them from agitating themselves with their own flailing arms.
Side or Stomach Position
While the back is the only safe position for a sleeping baby, holding a fussy baby on their side or stomach can help calm them sometimes instantly.
When your baby is inside the womb they hear the shushing sound of blood flow which can be as loud as a vacuum! A white noise machine (set on a continuous static sound) can be used for a fussy or sleeping baby to help recreate this familiar sound.
Babies do quite a bit of jiggling inside the womb- this is why a lot of babies love car rides! It is a natural thing for many parents to try to calm a fussy baby with these small quick movements. Try moving your child no more than an inch, back and forth, while supporting the head and neck, and see if this helps with any fussiness.
I don't think it is any surprise that babies love to suck, whether it is while feeding, a pacifier, or on their finger or thumb. You can use a pacifier during the 4th trimester but as they get older you may find they enjoy sucking their thumb, which is a great self soothing mechanism.
Try using some or all 5 of these methods to calm your baby during the 4th trimester. Using the swaddle and white noise can help tons with sleep during this time and white noise can even be used indefinitely to help your child sleep. Be careful though, because after your baby is 4 months these may no longer be as useful. Every child is different and with a little practice and patience you will find exactly what works for you and your baby.
What things have your found to help calm your fussy baby during this 4th trimester?