How To Calm Your Crying & Fussy Baby
Mommy to the rescue!
Every parent has been there. You have a crying baby on your hands, and you have no idea what’s wrong. (Fed: check. Changed: check. Slept: check.) Your stress levels are percolating, which your fussy baby can sense, sending them into an even further tizzy. You know the only way out of this predicament is to diffuse the situation. But you're stuck on the issue of how to calm a crying baby when it’s impossible to read their mind.
First things first, take a deep breath. We’re here to help. Ahead, we’re sharing how to respond to a crying baby with a few techniques, so you can (hopefully!) bask in the glow of a calm baby instead. We’ve even sprinkled in a few tips to help you cope in the process. Mommies and daddies need consoling, too.
What Causes Babies To Cry?
Let’s start things off by getting down to the basics. The first time you heard your baby cry as they entered this world, it may have sounded like music to your ears. But even an enjoyable tune can lose its appeal fast. Crying is your baby’s primary mode of communication. Therefore, they use it to convey a lot. Your baby may be crying due to hunger, discomfort, sleepiness, or frustration. They may even be seeking your attention. All in all, there can be any number of crying baby reasons.
Determining what your little one is trying to “say” can be daunting. And it often requires a bit of trial-and-error before you decode your baby’s unique language. Once you do, you’ll be able to figure out what works to help soothe them most of the time.
So, before you get upset by your baby’s crying, try doing a reality check. All babies cry—it’s the foundation of baby talk. It’s also important to remember that, as long as your infant seems otherwise healthy and fine, it’s perfectly alright for the cause of your baby’s cries to remain a mystery.
To reassure you even more, if you’ve ever worried if crying is bad for your baby, the answer is no. Crying doesn’t hurt anyone, including your baby. Even so, we know the tears can take a toll on both you and your baby. Though there’s no single, surefire way to calm your upset infant, there are countless methods parents have tried—many successfully.
How To Help Quickly Calm Your Baby
Seeing your baby crying and upset can be a difficult sight. And you may feel trapped not knowing how to help. A hungry belly may not always be to blame, so there’s no need to think that you should feed your baby every time they cry. But do check that their most basic needs are met first, hunger included. Be sure that their diaper is clean and dry, and that they’re not crying from being cold. Also, confirm that an uncomfortable piece of clothing, or strand of hair wound tightly around a finger or toe, isn’t to blame.
You may also wonder how long you should let your baby cry. Contrary to some beliefs, there’s no such thing as spoiling your infant by responding too hastily to their cries. In fact, one of the best ways to handle crying is to respond promptly to it within their first few months of life. This builds trust and a feeling of security, and by doing so, can lead to less crying overall.
If you’ve done your due diligence on possible causes of your baby crying, and still can’t calm them down, try consoling them with one (or more) of the following. See what works, then include it in your very own How To Calm a Crying Baby repertoire.
Swaddle them snugly:
You likely learned how to swaddle your infant from a nurse or midwife when your baby was born. If not, ask your pediatrician to show you how. Basically, you wrap your tiny one up like an adorable little package. It mimics the coziness of the womb, which can help calm them and encourage them to doze off, as well as keep them feeling warm and secure. This technique may even help soothe colicky babies.
Start by placing a baby blanket down flat, with one corner folded over. Then, lay your infant down on their back, making sure their head is above the folded corner. Straighten their left arm, and fold the left corner of the blanket over their body, tucking it between their right arm and right side of her body. Tuck their right arm down, then fold the right corner of the blanket over their body and under their left side. Lastly, loosely fold or twist the bottom of the blanket, and tuck it under one side. You want it to be snug, but not too tight. A good way to tell if the tension is right is to be sure you can fit two or three fingers between your baby’s chest and the blanket, and that there’s enough room for your bundle of joy to wiggle their hips.
Mesmerize them with motion:
Rhythmic motion can be hypnotic for anyone, especially babies. It simulates the swaying they felt in the womb. Rock your baby back-and-forth in your arms, a swing, or a rocking chair. You can even try slow dancing with them in your arms. As you may have already noticed, a walk in a stroller or car ride may do the trick, too.
Use soothing sounds:
Keeping with the familiarity of the womb, white noise and “shushing” can also help calm a fussy baby. Talking or singing softly may help lull them to sleep, as well.
Try the power of distraction:
Your little human can usually be easily distracted (thankfully!). Try refocusing their attention by letting them see their own reflection in a mirror or on a refectable toy. You can also try changing the scenery by taking them into a different room or, weather permitting, outside.
Stimulate their senses:
For a more tactile distraction, try giving your baby a warm bath and/or massage. It can be a way to swaddle their senses, as well as a bonding experience for your both.
Pacify those tears:
One of your baby’s first urges is to suckle, regardless if they’re hungry or not. It also doubles as another tactile distraction. Try giving them a clean finger or a pacifier. This may be one of the most comforting sensations for your little one.
Burst any bubbles:
A common cause of infant fussiness is gas. Try burping them or giving them a belly massage to see if a gassy belly is the issue. If it is, you can also give them Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Dye-Free or Original Drops. They immediately start breaking down gas bubbles to help your baby naturally expel them, and don’t remain in your baby’s system afterward. (Read about more ways to help relieve your baby’s gas here.)
Give your baby some “me” time:
Your baby loves and thrives on your attention. But just like us, sometimes they need a little alone time, too. Lay them down in their bassinet, crib, or carrier. Then, cajole them to sleep and reassure them that you’ll be back. After a few minutes, return to reassure them again, then leave for a few more minutes. Eventually, this will help your baby learn how to calm themselves. Plus, by encouraging them to take a break, you’ll get a little “me” time, too.
Next: Learn more about ways to help your gassy baby in our article How To Relieve Infant Gas.