One of the challenges of parenthood is learning to understand your baby's cries. Crying is the way babies communicate needs and desires, but sometimes what they need or want isn't so easy to figure out. Comforting your baby will come with a lot of trial and error, so don't be afraid to try whatever you can think of.
Actionable Tips to Soothe a Crying Baby
You are the foremost expert on your child. Follow your instincts and keep trying until you find something that works. Consider baby's environment in the womb and try to recreate that feeling. Pediatricians and parenting experts from Healthychildren.org and Parents.com offer these suggestions for parents and caregivers trying to comfort a crying baby.
When your baby is just fussy, with no apparent cause (like a dirty diaper or feeding time), physical touch may help soothe your baby. These tried and true methods have calmed babies when nothing else would.
- Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact, can help a great deal to soothe a fussy baby.
- Try gentle, loving touches such as stroking her hair or rubbing her back.
- Some babies find that swaddling is soothing.
- If your little one doesn't seem to want to be put down, babywearing him in a sling can be a lifesaver.
Solving Tummy Issues
If your baby's cries are due to an upset tummy, some of these methods may work to help ease the discomfort.
Experiment with different types of holds like the football carry or his head on your shoulder.
- With your pediatrician's help, consider changing formula. If you are breastfeeding, change your diet to see if that helps.
- If gas is the culprit, Dr. Sears suggests that a tummy massage might just do the trick.
Get in Motion
When your baby is in the womb, he is being rocked all day while you move. Some moms find that simulating that constant motion can help a crying baby.
- Rock baby (in your arms or in a rocking chair).
- Lay baby in a baby swing or a vibrating baby seat.
- Take a walk with your baby (around the house or the neighborhood).
- Take a ride in the car.
Sometimes all your baby wants is to change things up a little.
- Turn on a calming sound (fan, white noise machine, heartbeat recording).
Sing, hum, or make a shushing sound.
- Change location (sit in a different chair or try a different room).
- Change baby's clothes to something cooler or warmer.
Offer a pacifier or finger/thumb to suck.
Avoid bright lights and loud noises, especially at night.
Offer a favorite toy.
Recognize Your Limits
Taking care of a baby is hard work, arguably the toughest job on the planet. Parents should expect to feel some emotions, like frustration or sadness, when a baby is difficult to comfort. Taking care of yourself regularly can help you be in the best physical and emotional state to stop a baby from crying and make it that much easier to offer soothing comfort.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices for yourself.
- Take a break if you need one and let someone else try to comfort baby. (It is okay to place baby in a crib for 10-15 minutes as long as she is fed and changed and not sick.)
- Remember that the crying is temporary.
- Know when to call your healthcare provider.
Comforting Your Baby
Take comfort in knowing that all babies cry, not just your baby. With a little research and some tried and true testing, you are sure to find a few calming techniques that work for your baby.