It was at 2 am.
I could hear Baby Girl (not my daughter’s real name, in case you were worried) crying through the baby monitor.
She was only about a month at the time.
I went into her bedroom to take care of her and she was still crying.
I gave her a pacifier. Didn’t stop her crying. Which usually calmed her right down.
So I moved on to other areas that might be bothering her.
Was her diaper dirty?
Nope, still clean and dry.
Was she hungry?
I tried to give her a bottle. And nope, not hungry at this time.
All the while she was still crying. A tiny, upset cry like she wasn’t quite awake enough to fully cry.
So what was I to do? How was I supposed to soothe my baby’s crying?
Why Do Babies Cry?
Your baby cries as the main way to communicate with you. They cry because they want to capture your attention and they need to express their needs.
As their mama, you start to be able to interpret their cries. You can tell their “hurt cry” from their “cranky cry”. According to HelpGuide here is a list of the common reasons that baby’s cry.
Common Reasons Baby Cry:
- Sleepiness or Fatigue
- Wet or Dirty Diaper
- Food Allergies
- Acid Reflux
- Pain or Illness
- Stranger Anxiety or Fear
Before you try to soothe your baby’s crying, you should first check on their physical needs first.
Is your baby hungry? Thirsty? Have a wet or dirty diaper? Need to be burped? Too cold or too hot?
Once you cross off these needs, and your baby is still upset then here are 21 tips to soothing your crying baby. Not all of these tips will work for your baby. And then some of these tips that didn’t work will start to work. So, it’s always a good idea to not be afraid to always try out different tips if your baby is crying to see what will work.
- What to Expect on the First Day Home with a Newborn
- How to Get Rid of a Diaper Rash
- How to Swaddle a Newborn: A Step-by-Step Guide
21 Tips to Soothing a Crying Baby
1. Swaddle Your Baby
This makes your baby feel safe because it recreates them being in the tight quarters of the womb. Swaddling can help your baby settle down faster and even help them sleep longer.
Your baby might not like to be swaddled with their arms inside the blanket. This might because they prefer to suck on their fingers or they like the freedom of having their arms free.
2. Change Your Scenery
Sometimes your baby can feel when you are stressed. This can make them cry even more. What can help is if you move to a different location.
Maybe you were in baby’s nursery and you move to the kitchen. This might be enough to snap your baby out of their crying spell and change their mood.
3. Bounce Your Baby
Any kind of motion can help soothe your baby. The rhymic motion of bouncing can help to slow your baby’s heart rate. This can calm them and stop their crying.
4. Listen to Music
This doesn’t just apply to lullabies. Try all genres and songs. Including songs that you like.
Music can calm the nervous system, just like movement can. (1) It can decrease your baby’s heart and respiratory rate.
5. Turn Off the Lights
Life is noisy and bright. This can overstimulate your baby’s system.
When this happens your baby’s reaction might be to freak out. Putting them in a dark room can calm them down because after all, newborns are used to the dark and confines of the womb.
6. Use White Noise
There are babies that will calm down when they hear louder rhythmic sounds because it is remiscent of the womb. Sounds such as a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer or a fan might do the trick because they can block out random noises that might startle your baby. If this works for your baby, you might consider investing in a noise machine.
7. Record Your Baby Crying
This might sound like odd advice, but there are times that babies get “stuck” crying. Even when their needs are taken care of they keep crying. Providing a suprising distraction, like a recording of them crying could be just the thing that breaks the cycle of their crying.
8. Encourage Sucking
Babies will often soothe themselves with sucking that doesn’t provide nutrition for their tummies, but calms their nerves. Help your baby find their finger, thumb, or offer your finger to suck on.
Or give your baby a pacifier. If you have just started breastfeeding, you might want to wait until it is well established so there is no nipple confusion.
9. Wear Your Baby
Putting your baby in a sling or a front-pack carrier and walking around can help soothe your baby. Babies enjoy the motion of your steps and enjoy the feeling of closeness to you.
An added benefit is you are hands free so you can multitask. If your baby initially doesn’t like a sling or a carrier, don’t write it off entirely. Babies usually come around and then enjoy being carried like this.
10. Rock in a Glider or Chair
Your baby will enjoy the motion and will usually settle down. Don’t let your baby fall asleep in your arms while rocking. Your baby might become dependent on the motion to fall asleep over time. It’s best to let your baby get to the brink of sleep and then transfer them to their crib.
11. Sing a Song
Your baby doesn’t know or care how you sing. Whether that is out of tune or with perfect pitch. All your baby knows is that when you sing to them, you are there with them. So, sing whatever comes to mind and they will be comforted by the sound of your voice.
12. Give a Massage
Massage can be a great bonding ritual for both and you and can calm your baby’s cries. You can experiment with special baby massage oils or lotions, but neither are necessary for you both to enjoy the massage. Make sure your touch is gentle, but firm enough that you are not tickling your baby.
There are different massage techniques you can use on your baby:
- Unfurl your baby’s fingers and massage their palms and wrists.
- Massage the soles of their feet and uncurl their toes. (Baby Girl is ticklish on the soles of her feet, so this particular massage did not work well for her).
- Stroke their chest from the center outward. Make small circles on their stomach, around the belly button.
- Gently roll their arms and legs between your hands, taking turns with each limb.
It is important to realize that some or all of these massages might not work on your baby. Either they will be sensitive to it or they could be ticklish. But it is worth a try to see if they like one or all of them.
13. Bath Time
If your baby gets mellow at bath time, then this just might relax them enough to stop their crying. Fill up a tub with warm water and make it a regular part of their “chill-out and stop crying” routine.
14. Try the “Colic Carry”
There are times when your baby is crying unconsolably that they need pressure on their tummy to relice gas and colic. This position is known as the “colic carry”. Here is how you preform this carry.
- Lay your baby on their tummy on your forearm, cradling their head in your hand. Use your other hand to stabilize them and rub their back.
- Lay them across your lap, with one knee in their tummy and the other supporting their head.
- Hold them upright, with their abdomen on your shoulder.
- Lay them on their back and pushing their knees up to their tummy for 10 seconds, then release and repeat, to help relieve gas.
15. Go Outside
Fresh air combined with the change in light, temperture, sights, sounds and smells is likely to improve your baby’s mood as well as your own. If the weather is bad or your neighborhood is not condusive to strolling about then put your baby in their car seat and drive around. The motion should rock them to sleep.
Even babies get bored and when they do it can cause fussiness. Try narrating your actions with silly noises and animated expressions. Try reading to them or turn on some music and dance with your baby. You can also try to sit on the floor and show your baby how their toys work.
17. Remain Calm
If your baby seems overstimulated, then turn your phone on silent or vibrate and mellow out with them. Keep things calm and quiet to help them settle down.
18. Put Your Baby on SIde or Stomach
Hold your baby in your arms on their left side, which will promote digestion. (2) Gently pat your baby on the back. This will help calm your baby. If your baby falls asleep in this position, be sure to lay them down on their back in their crib.
Putting your baby in a swing can calm their tears because of the motion. Make sure to strap your baby in the swing no matter their age, but especially if they are at the age where they want to roll over.
20. “Shhhing” Sounds
This noise is comforting because it is similar to noises heard by your baby in the womb. (3) It helps to whisper this noise, but not too softly, right into your baby’s ear.
21. Pat Your Baby’s Back in a Pattern of a Heartbeat
The pattern of a heartbeat will remind your baby of being inside of the womb which was safe and comforting. And can definitely settle them down. Instead of patting your baby on the back you can try patting them on the behind gently. (Baby Girl liked when I patted her bum in the pattern of a heartbeat. It typically settled her down).
Crying Can be Frustrating
Baby Girl wouldn’t stop crying. It was enough to make me want to bang my head against the wall. I couldn’t believe she would cry this much and all of her physical needs had been met. I could feel my frustration levels rising.
What was I doing wrong? Was all of this my fault? Was I a terrible mother because I couldn’t get Baby Girl back to sleep?
I finally was able to soothe her tears by trying out several of the methods listed in this article and got her back to sleep. Grateful, I too went back to bed to get more much needed rest.
In the morning, I turned to Internet to answer my questions. Here is what I found out (and no I not a terrible mother and neither are you, just to point that out). Babies tend to cry more frequently starting at two weeks of age. (4) It peaks at two months of age. Some healthy babies cry up to 4-5 hours a day. So don’t be alarmed if this happens to you and if you are in this time frame, just hang on Mama! It will get better.
So the crying is normal and so is the feeling of frustration.
Coping with a Crying Baby
When your baby is constantly crying and won’t seem to respond to you or settle down and you are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, the best thing to do is to develop some strategies to take care of yourself. It’s a lot easier to figure out how to help your little one when you are feeling calm and centered.
Pay attention to warning signs that you are feeling overwhelmed and you need a break. The sooner you spot these signs, the easier it is to plan ahead. To get extra help, to take an excursion outside by yourself, to talk to a friend or a loved one or to take a break.
Remember that these crying spells will eventually end. Keeping this perspective in mind can make it easier when you are working on calming your baby down.
It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay not to be fully attentive to your baby 24/7, especially if they are constanly crying because that is impossible. Experts estimate that meeting your baby’s needs at least one third of the time is enough to support healthy bonding and secure attachment. (5)
During your baby’s fussiest times, see if you can enlist help with the housekeeping, with babysitting and/or with meals. When you know you have help on the way, it can make it a world of difference for you and your mood.
When your baby is constantly crying it is important to have tricks up your sleeves to help soothe them. These 21 tips to soothing your baby can go a long way to help settle your baby. Some of these tips will work wonders for your baby and will be your constant go-tos.
Which of these tips have you tried to soothe your baby while they are crying? Which of these tips work the best for your baby? Which of these tips will you try to soothe your crying baby?