Many parents and caregivers ask what they can do to soothe their crying infant. When it comes to soothing your baby, it is important to remember that some things work some of the time, but nothing works all of the time. Remember that infants are not machines; they are not predictable, and they do not have an “on-off” switch for crying. The following is a list of practical things to try to calm your crying baby:
- Feed your baby. Hunger is the main reason a baby will cry.
- Burp your baby. Babies do not have a natural ability to get rid of air built up in their stomach.
- Give your baby a lukewarm bath. This is a great soothing technique, but remember to never leave your baby unattended.
- Massage your baby. A gentle massage on a baby back, arms, or legs can be very comforting.
- Make eye contact with your baby and smile. Eye-to-eye contact with your baby when they are crying can distract and comfort them.
- Kiss your baby. This can help lessen the tension during fierce crying episodes.
- Sing Softly. Lullabies were created because of their effectiveness at calming crying babies.
- Hum in a low tone against your baby’s head. Dads usually do this soothing feature best.
- Run a Vacuum Cleaner. The noise from a vacuum is referred to as white noise, which is any sound that produces a loud, neutral, masking sound. Babies find these noises hypnotizing.
- Take your baby for a ride in the car. The vibrations from a car have a sleep inducing effect on babies. Always make sure your baby is secure in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.
Soothing Your Baby
Soothing behaviors are universal things that all parents and caregivers use to calm and comfort their babies. They can be used in response to crying infants, or they can also be used when the baby is not crying to help keep them calm, and make them less likely to cry later. Soothing can work preventively if the soothing activities are applied when the infant is not crying rather than just in response to crying. Here are some of the most common soothing behaviors:
- Changing a baby’s position can be soothing. Try picking baby up from lying down, and placing baby on your shoulder. Baby gets a “new view” of the world, you often have some eye-to-eye contact with your baby, and the body contact between you and your baby is typically soothing.
- Repeating can be soothing. What is repeated can be almost anything that is comforting. It can be sounds, sights, touches or smells. Almost all lullabies have parts that are repeated, either words or the musical tunes or both. That is no accident. Repeating things tends to be calming.
- Rhythms can be soothing. This occurs when a sound, sight or touch is not only repeated, but repeated in a pattern that is rhythmic.
- White noise can be soothing. Technically, “white noise” is a sound without rhythm. Some examples include a fan, washing machine, or a vacuum.
- Closeness can be soothing, such as when the mother is holding or snuggling the baby.
- Involving many sensations can be soothing, including sounds, sights, touches and smells. Each of these is a different way of sensing the environment. You are likely to be more successful at calming your baby if whatever you do includes more sensations.
- Human sights and sounds and smells are more soothing than non-human. Human interaction is important to human infants. Furthermore, as your infant gets older in the first few months, the human versions of sounds and sights become increasingly more effective than they were earlier.
What can I do if I feel frustrated with baby’s cries?
Caring for a crying baby can be exhausting and difficult. NEVER SHAKE THE BABY. Don’t blame yourself or your baby for the constant crying. Try to relax, and remember that your baby will stop crying. Crying will not hurt baby, so give yourself some time to calm down so you don’t get too frustrated. If you need a break or feel you might lose control when caring for your baby:
- Put baby in crib or another safe place, leave the room and take a short break.
- Take a deep breath and count to ten.
- Do something else you enjoy for a few minutes.
- Call a friend or relative for emotional support or ask them to come help with baby.
- If you are ever concerned about the crying, call your baby’s health care provider.