Seven Ways to Soothe a Crying Baby

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
If you are a new parent and have never spent a lot of time around babies, it can be puzzling to know what to do when they cry, or why. Is the baby hungry? Tired? Grumpy? Frustrated? In pain? Babies have no other way to communicate their needs, so that is why they cry. It could be one thing, or several things that are causing the baby to cry.
Sometimes babies cry for hours, which is frustrating for a parent or caregiver. Whatever you do, keep calm! Never yell at the baby or hurt the baby, as this will only intensify the crying and will have the opposite effect that you desire. It is easier said than done, but if you have to take a break from the crying just to regain your sanity and self-control, and then make sure you take the baby to its crib and place the infant safely inside. Do not leave your home, but you can get away from the crying for a few minutes and leave the room to regain your composure, especially if it prevents you from wanting to take your own frustration out on the screaming baby.

Just make sure that if you do leave the room, periodically check on the infant every five or ten minutes. You should not feel bad about doing this, as you are human and many parents get frustrated when the baby cries. When you have tried everything to no avail, this may be your only solution for sanity.

Getting to the bottom of the tears

Once you get to know your baby, you will be able to distinguish the different cries and sounds to determine the root of the problem. When a baby is hungry, he may start out by merely whining and then progress to a more serious cry as the hunger progresses. Or, the baby might be occupied and forget that it is hungry, when all of a sudden, “Boom!” the hunger kicks in and then the baby gets mad.
The baby might be overtired or exhausted, but doesn’t want to sleep for fear of missing something. Or the infant might have gas, such as the case with colicky babies. Many parents have a problem with colicky newborns and the crying can last for days, weeks or even months! This can be the ultimate frustration.
Other reasons a baby may cry include constipation or diarrhea. If your baby has not pooped for more than a day and then cries persistently, then it might be constipation. If the baby is pooping too frequently, on the other hand, and the poop is runny or abnormal in color, then it might be the latter. It is important to notice diet changes and other things in your baby, such as rashes and other signs of possible food allergies or dust, pet and other allergic reactions.

Babies might cry if they are too hot, too cold, or if they need to burp. They might cry for no reason at all, due to something scary or unexpected loud noises, too much stimulation or even not being held at a time when they want extra cuddling. Be careful of holding the baby too much, because there are those babies that want to be held all the time and that can also be frustrating for parents. As soon as a baby like this gets put down, he starts crying until you pick him up again. In this case, you should try other measures, so that the baby will not think that you are there to hold him all day.

7 Ways to Soothe a Crying Baby:

  • 1. Bring the baby for a ride in the car, while playing some soft and relaxing music. This often works well for babies, because the car ride will pacify and soothe the baby by offering a diversion.
  • 2. Try playing music and rocking the baby. Playing some relaxing sounds from your iPod or YouTube (in the background) often soothe a fussy infant, especially sounds that have “alpha direct brainwaves” or the ocean, nature, etc. These are very effective for babies’ (and children’s) brain development.
  • 3. Check the baby’s diaper. Some parents think that just because they changed a diaper an hour ago that it could not possibly be in need of another one, but a baby can wet or soil a diaper again faster than you realize!
  • 4. Wants to be held. If the baby is just crying because it wants to be held all the time, and you have things to do, then try getting a baby swing, rocker or bouncer. These are fun and stimulating for the baby.
  • 5. Growing new teeth. When you have tried a lot of things that usually work and the baby still cries, it is possible that the infant is growing new teeth. Teething is very painful, yet many unaware parents are aware of this and just try all of the typical things like feeding or a pacifier.
  • 6. Does not have a comfort item. Give your baby a “special” toy or blanket. Most children develop a fondness for a certain item, so if the child is crying and does not have a comfort item, you can find something that offers the comfort they crave.
  • 7. If persistent crying occurs, take the baby’s temperature. You may need to have the baby seen by a pediatrician or expert who can diagnose the reason why the baby is agitated. There is always a reason for crying. Gas, tummy troubles and colic are common problems, so the infant might need special formula or anti-gas drops. You can also try placing the baby on his back and rocking the feet in a bicycle motion to help the tummy digest.

On the bright side, your baby will be able to communicate sooner than you think. Before you know it, he or she will be walking, talking and the crying will become less frequent. Try to enjoy your baby as much as possible, even if the crying does get on your nerves.


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