Nobody understands how hard it is to be a baby.As a baby, you only have one truly effective method of communication, and that's crying. If they're hungry, they cry. If they're tired, they cry. If they're afraid, they're in pain, or they just want to be held, they cry. Imagine how frustrating it is when you find that nobody really knows what you want or how to help you. You'd yell, too!
That being said, nobody gets just how frazzling motherhood is, either--especially when your baby won't stop crying. A colicky baby can make the difference between a doable infancy and one year of sleepless torture for the parents. If you could just figure out what's making your baby so upset, you'd fix it in a heartbeat, but sometimes babies are so confusing
It can be difficult to figure out how to soothe your child at first, and there's no right answer that fits every situation. Soothing a baby is a lot of trial and error. You try a bunch of methods, hope one works, and move onto the next one if that doesn't. Hopefully, you find a solution that solves your baby's problems so you can get some well-deserved rest.
This article gives you fifteen different soothing tactics to try next time your baby's upset. Each one tackles a common reason babies cry and a way for you, the parent, to help them. Run through the list and try them with your child to see if any of these give your baby (and you) a little comfort.
15 Change Their Position
What? Sometimes a quick change of position can ease and comfort your baby out of their bad mood. If your baby is inconsolable, try picking them up and resting their head on your shoulder. You can also hold your baby so that you're putting a little pressure on their belly by putting your hand against their stomach while holding them if you think they might have gas.
When to Use: Use this if your baby is not being held and appears restless or frustrated in their cradle, seat, or on the ground.
Why This Works: This can work for a variety of reasons depending on why your child's upset. Sometimes changing their visual perspective helps as they get a "new view" of the world from your shoulders. Being on the same eye-level as them also can have a calming effect. Physical contact and affection between you and your baby in general has a soothing effect and the more you use it, the more likely your baby is to calm themselves.
14 Swing Them To Sleep
What? Whether you swing your baby in your arms or place them in an infant swing, sometimes the calming, back-and-forth motion puts them right to sleep when nothing else will. Most find that the more traditional the baby swing is (sans flashing lights or special features), the better it works in rocking your baby to sleep.
When to Use: Use this method if you need to soothe your baby while multitasking, such as while visiting with a friend or working on a project. Most recommend that you do not let your baby sleep in the swing from two months onward so if your child falls asleep, move them to their crib unless you need to keep an eye on them.
Why This Works: Swinging recreates the rocking motion of being in the womb. This can help ground a newborn in familiarity and calm them down when little else will. Also, a baby swing is the infant equivalent of a hammock: why do we like resting while rocking slowly back and forth. Who knows, but it sure is relaxing.
13 Soothe Their Tummy
What? If you suspect your baby is having stomach troubles, you may want to begin some much-needed tummy time. While supervising your baby, lay them down on the floor on top of a blanket and give them some toys to play with. If your baby continues to express stomach pain, try giving them an infant massage to relax them and calm abdominal tension.
When to Use: Use this if your baby expresses other indigestion symptoms, such as reflux, diarrhea, or colic.
Why This Works: Sometimes your baby might feel grumpy because of indigestion. When your baby lays on their back, it may inhibit their digestion from functioning fully. This can cause your baby some discomfort, which could make them extra grumpy.
12 Background Noise
What? White noise is any sound that's a mixture of high and low noises that creates a background, often humming noises. Common examples of white noise include vacuuming, tv static, and thunderstorm noises. A white noise machine can be your best friend because sometimes, they can get your baby to sleep when anything else leaves them oversensitive.
When to Use: Use a white noise machine if your baby is overstimulated and you think drowning out the other sounds in the house could help them calm down. Sometimes white noise can also be a good help if you're trying to lull your baby to sleep but they just won't settle down.
Why This Works: You may not know this, but inside the womb, it is very loud. Every sound is amplified at a much greater level. Your baby is used to sound. They like noise and find it comforting because it reminds them of when they were in your womb. The more familiarity you can surround a baby with, the more likely they will feel safe and relaxed.
11 Read The Baby's Signals
What? Learning some common signals your baby might use can help you immensely when trying to understand what they want. Why is your baby arching their back and rubbing their eyes? How do you tell the difference between a hungry cry, a tired cry, and a sad cry? The subtle differences can save you so much time (and stress relief) in the long run.
When to Use: Read up on differentiating signals before you need it and use your knowledge whenever you're not quite sure what your baby needs. With time, you'll be able to recognize your baby's unique signals and respond more quickly.
Why This Works: Babies aren't the only people frustrated that they can't decode signals. New parents may become overwhelmed trying to decode every cough or cry from their new baby. "Baby talk" may not be a distinct language but you can still learn certain signs that make understanding your baby easier. Your baby will thank you, your partner will thank you, and you (plus your ears) will thank you so much.
10 Baby Burrito
What? In other words, swaddle up. Swaddling your newborn will make them and you so much more relaxed when having a hard day. Babies find the swaddling sensation comfortable and are often soothed right to sleep when cuddled up in their blanket. Not only this, but swaddling has tons of benefits: it reduces SIDS, improves neuromuscular development, and eases the cries of a colicky baby like nothing else.
When to Use: Use if your baby exhibits a "tired cry," try swaddling to give them that push into dreamland. Just remember to never, under any circumstances, put a swaddled baby on their stomach. Take care of your little burrito.
Why This Works: To us, getting wrapped so tightly into a blanket that we would resemble a burrito sounds claustrophobic and more than mildly unpleasant. There are few positions, however, that babies love more. Like many other calming tricks, it reminds them of the womb and eases emotional tension.
9 Find Your Mantra
What? A mantra is a word or phrase that grounds you and provides comfort or inner strength when dealing with tough situations. When repeated over and over, mantras can give you that extra boost of energy to keep calming your baby when you want to give up. Little phrases like "you can do this," "they'll fall asleep soon," or "keep going" can provide a lot of relief to get you through the moment.
When to Use: Break out the mantras when you feel like you've hit a wall and are just about to give up. When you need centering, a mantra may just do the trick.
Why This Works: Soothing the baby isn't all about them. Successfully soothing also relies on your own emotional strength and endurance to get through your baby's tears. If you have had it up to here with your bundle of joy and don't believe you can calm them down, you won't be able. Care for the baby first, but remember to practice a bit of self-care, too.
8 Take Them Outdoors
What? Sometimes an hour of one-on-one with nature can give your baby a chance of pace and help keep their minds off their troubles. If you've been trying to put your baby down for a nap since three hours ago and they just won't fall asleep, consider a stroller ride. If your baby's tired, they'll fall right to sleep. If not, they'll be much more comforted and easier to handle than before.
When to Use: Some babies love the outdoors more than others. If your baby is head over heels for sunny (or snowy) weather and loves animals more than anyone you know, take them outside for an outdoor excursion.
Why This Works: Babies can work themselves up so hard that they forget why they were upset in the first place. Just like other people who have a bad day, though, their grumpy mood still may persist. Taking them outside puts them in a new environment where they can let go of whatever was on their mind and enjoy nature with you.
7 Sing To Them
What? Babies love white noise but not as much as they love the sound of their parents' voice. A song could do the trick to help your baby cool down and take them from emotionally devastated to cooing and giggling within minutes.
When to Use: Use if you have a great singing voice... just kidding. This is your baby! You don't have to be a professional singer here. If your baby likes music or calming noises, consider belting out your favorite nursery rhymes to help them get to sleep.
Why This Works: Babies love the sounds of their parents' voice. They've been able to recognize you both since they were in the womb, and their whole world revolves around you. Hearing your voice combined with a soothing pat on the back can calm them down like nothing else can.
6 Rock-a-Bye Baby
What? Similar to the concept of putting your baby in an infant swing, rocking your baby can have a similar effect. Any motion that has some sort of pattern to it should to the trick here. If you don't have a rocking chair, pick your baby up and sway them back and forth until the sensation lulls them to sleep. If your baby responds well to rocking, this shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
When to Use: Babies all respond differently to certain stimuli. Try rocking your baby when they're sad and see how they respond. If rocking soothes them, keep doing it. If it startles them, move onto the next trick. Simple and straightforward? Yes, but all the best directions are.
Why This Works: Babies like predictability and familiarity. As mentioned earlier, babies experienced swaying and rocking sensations in the womb. Anything that approximates that mixed with some sort of rhythm should work perfectly.
5 Utilize Their Sucking Reflex
What? When it comes to pacifiers, you'll hear two arguments: for and against. If you decide the pros outweigh the cons, pacifiers can soothe your baby when a bottle won't do and breastfeeding isn't an option. If your newborn takes a pacifier, try it out and see if this helps them get to sleep.
When to Use: First, make sure you understand the benefits and risks of pacifier usage. Then, if you choose to use it, see if your baby takes a pacifier. Some will, some will just spit it out and keep crying.
Why This Works: When babies utilize their sucking reflex, it calms them down. Babies love to be reminded of things they love, and all babies love nursing (whether breastfed or bottlefed). Sucking on a pacifier takes their mind off their emotions and helps them focus on something more pleasant.
4 Kangaroo Care
What? Kanga-who care? Skin-to-skin contact has a multitude of benefits for newborns and can calm them down almost instantly. If you want to establish the bond between parent and baby right away, kangaroo care strengthens the connection immensely. Humans are social creatures, and we need physical contact to survive. All of us do, including your baby.
When to Use: Use if your baby is soothed by physical contact and reacts positively to parent-child bonding
Why This Works: Kangaroo care just needs ten minutes to work wonders thanks to the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin. Oxytocin lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases feelings of love and bonding. Babies who were cradled with skin-to-skin contact sleep more deeply and wake up less often after falling asleep.
3 Remove Stimulation
What? When your baby is surrounded by noise, sometimes it startles them so much that they cry. Take them to a quiet room where you can offer one-on-one attention without other daily stressors. Once your baby is removed from whatever's causing them stress, they'll be more likely to forget it and settle back into a peaceful mood.
When to Use: Hold your baby in a separate room if the one you're in is loud or chaotic and you can tell it's frightening them. When in doubt, move them out.
Why This Works: When babies are alert, they are hyper-vigilant to any noises or sights they don't recognize. If they feel in danger, they will start crying. Sometimes too much stimulation can trigger a threatened reaction from the baby and send them into a panic. As noisy as they can be, babies need quiet every once and a while.
2 Check Your Own Emotional State
What? If you feel like no matter what you do, your baby just won't calm down, see if you might be hurting the problem rather than helping. You might not even realize how stressed you are and how the baby might respond to your emotions. If you feel at the end of your rope, take a step back and get support from your partner or use a calming technique to center yourself.
When to Use: After a long, hard day with a grumpy baby, use some self-reflection and honestly analyze your mood. If you're almost grumpier than your baby, try to recognize that and take steps to calm yourself down.
Why This Works: None of us try to put our bad moods on others, but babies and mothers are so connected. If you're angry, your baby will sense that and feel even more unhappy than before. Don't feel bad if you need to pass the baby to your partner for a while or take a few moments to recollect yourself. It's the right thing to do for you and the baby, and you both need that.
1 Cuddle Them Close
What? When your baby is pitching a fit, the last thing you may want to be is right next to them. Yet cuddling can calm them down even without kangaroo care. Take your baby into your arms and rock them gently, making comforting noises as you do so. No matter how your baby reacts, they will feel better than before.
When to Use: Use in every situation you need to soothe your baby, if you can. Physical contact calms down a baby quickest.
Why This Works: Once again, humans are social creatures. Everybody needs love. Babies thrive off of love and need your support and comfort as the parent. Give them your undivided attention, even just for a moment, and shower them with love. Nothing will make them calm down sooner than cuddling.