Safe Ways to Calm a Baby

What’s the best way to respond when your baby won’t stop crying? It’s easy to say you’ll never get frustrated or angry with your baby when she’s calm and happy, but after hearing her cry for long periods of time, it can begin to wear on your peace of mind. But if you are like most new parents, you may not know how to best calm a baby who is fussy; you may be surprised how much newborn babies can cry!

It’s normal for healthy babies to cry

In the first weeks and months of life, perfectly healthy babies cry. In fact, they cry a lot. And if you had expectations of an entirely cooperative, cheerful infant before your baby was born, the crying can be especially tiresome. When a baby cries, it is not a sign that her parents are inadequate but often that she is just trying to communicate something. The trick is to find out what she needs.

The Five S’s

If your baby won’t stop crying, it’s time to start trying some soothing Once you are sure the baby’s basic needs (such as food, clean diaper, and comfortable temperature) are met, you can try any or all of the five S’s:

  1. Shushing – Create background (or white) noise to mimic the sounds baby is accustomed to from life in the womb. Sometimes a variety of soft sounds can distract her enough to stop crying and listen.
  2. Swaddling – Many babies feel more secure when swaddled (wrapped) tightly in a lightweight blanket.
  3. Side/stomach positioning – Trying different positions might help with colic or GER (Gastroesophageal Reflux).
  4. Sucking – As a natural reflex, sucking can be particularly soothing for newborn babies. You can try breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby, or even just using a pacifier can calm a baby who is fussy.
  5. Swinging gently – An infant swing, rocking chair, stroller, or car ride often helps calm a baby.

Sometimes a change of scenery will do the job. You can walk your baby around the house or outside. If you think something might be physically wrong with your baby, don’t hesitate to confide in her doctor.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself

Caring for an infant is seriously hard work! Sometimes you absolutely need to take a break. If you feel frustrated, it’s fine to lay your crying baby down in a safe sleep environment and let her cry for 15 minutes. Ask family members or friends to take a turn, even if it’s just for an hour. Though it feels impossible with a newborn baby around, try to get as much rest as you can as a lack of sleep makes it more challenging to deal with the stress of caring for a newborn baby. Have a plan in place to calm a baby before you reach your limit. It is never okay to shake a crying baby. Doing so can cause irreparable harm. Make sure any caregivers who watch your baby know the dangers of shaking a baby.

The world of parenting is complicated and there are no set rules that apply for every baby. Sometimes the only way to end a crying spell is to let baby cry it out. Remember that crying spells are usually temporary and peak in the first 3-4 months of life. Your baby won’t cry like this forever!

What has helped you calm a baby who won’t stop crying? We’d love to hear your advice in the comments!


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