Babies learn and understand the world through interaction with the environment and the sensory input they receive. Here are some tips on how to make the transition smoother.

1. Sound

Lullabies and classical music are calming for a newborn. This can be played through your pregnancy and afterwards, when putting baby to sleep.

2. Vision

Colours that are pale and “dim” are calming for baby. Block-out curtains will help your newborn establish a sleep/awake cycle.

3. Scent

Smells such as lavender and chamomile oil can be applied to baby’s clothes or pillow at bed time. Baby also loves the smell of his/her mother.

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4. Touch

Deep (but gentle) pressure is what baby enjoys best. A massage, a snuggly hug or blankets are ways in which this sensation can be provided.

5. Calming a newborn

  • Swaddle

Wrap baby tightly in a blanket during nap and sleeping times. Swaddling provides a similar sensation to the constant pressure baby received in the uterus.


  • Self soothe

When baby cries, teach him/her to take their hands to the mouth to suck or alternatively, use a pacifier. This helps baby learn about self soothing and prevents the idea of ‘you’ becoming the dummy.

  • Slow rocking or swaying

For example: Hold baby in your arms and gently rock in a linear plane, or try a baby carrying sling or pouch, and rocking chairs/cribs.

Baby’s main source of interaction and learning during this time (their first month of life) is through mum.

So moms, a few more tips:

  • Talk to baby during awake times.
  • Try not to wear any strong or harsh-smelling perfume, baby finds the smell of breast milk pleasant.
  • Wear soft, comfortable clothing that will not irritate baby’s skin and most of all give your baby love, love and more love  …

About the author: Rashika Singh completed her Bachelor of Sciences in Occupational Therapy at Wits in 2011. She  is currently employed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto where she works as  a Paediatric Occupational Therapist. She is also a locum therapist at Talk Sense OT in Bryanston.  She is currently completing her qualification in sensory integration. She is passionate about kids and ensures her therapy is child- and family-centered and of course fun and playful. On a more personal note Rashika is 26 years old and lives in Sandton, Johannesburg. She loves travel, dance, fashion and beauty.