How To Help Fussy Newborns Sleep Peacefully: 20 Easy Steps

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if babies came with an instruction manual? Just a little booklet that would give mom a quick how-to guide on all things baby? Such a thing doesn’t exist, and it would be impossible to create one because every single baby who is born is different. They all have different personalities, temperaments, and tricks to help calm them.

Being a newborn is tough. The only life they have known has been inside a warm, quiet and sterile place. A place that felt safe and secure to them. Then, all of a sudden, they are thrust into a world that is cold, loud and has so many different smells to it. That has to be one very scary situation.

Newborns are prone to get fussy, they are going to go through periods where they are upset, and nothing will seem to calm them down. All mom will want is for them to go to sleep, both so that she can get a rest and also so that the baby can get a rest. A tired baby is not a happy baby, as mom will soon find out.

There are 20 things that mom can try when it comes to calming down a fussy newborn so that they can get the sleep they need. A lot of them are going to be centered around one very important theme; mom wants to try and recreate the womb environment. Let’s find out how to do that to help our little ones.

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20 Swaddle

There are not enough lessons out there for moms to teach them how to swaddle. Often times, swaddling is the only thing a mom has to do to get a newborn to calm down. If she can figure out swaddling, her baby may just calm down. Swaddling helps the baby feel safe and secure, much like they did in the womb. It helps keep them warm and close together.

It is common that a baby will fuss when getting swaddled, and it may take a few moments once swaddled for the baby to calm down. Mom shouldn’t give up so quickly and assume the baby doesn’t like it. Give the baby a chance to realize they are safe and swaddled, and they should calm right down.

19 All In The Hold

There are many different ways to hold a baby, and sometimes mom will just need to find out what her baby likes. This may take some trial-and-error to find the position her baby wants to be held. There is one position that is known to help fussy babies calm down. Mom wants to hold her baby in her arms and place the baby so that they are laying on their left side.

This can help digestion if your baby is having some problems with their stomach. Mom can also hold the baby on their stomach which is often calming. Just remember that if the baby falls asleep, they must be laid down on their back.

18 Calming Sounds

It is all about recreating the womb, so we have to remember what the womb sounds like. The womb may be filtered, but it is not silent. There are all kinds of sounds that your little one is used to hearing, and the world can sometimes seem a little too quiet for them. Moms try and make a quiet environment because they assume the baby needs that to sleep. It may actually be the exact opposite.

The baby is used to hearing the blood flowing through veins and the sound of mom’s heartbeat. White noise machines are excellent in recreating the sounds heard in the womb. Take baby to a dark room (the womb was dark) and have a white noise machine on and it should help them settle down and get a good nap.

17 Get Up And Walk

It may be exhausting but one of the best ways to calm a fussy baby down is to get up and walk around with them. We have all been there. The baby is fussing, so mom gets up and walks around and the baby calms down. Once she goes to sit down again, the crying starts. It is a common problem in the parenting world.

A baby likes to stay on the move. They were used to constant movement while in mom’s womb as she went about her day. They find it comforting. Another problem is that often when the mom is moving around the baby will fall asleep (finally), but as soon as mom places that baby down, they awake. Mom will need to hold her baby for about 15-minutes to make sure they are in a deep sleep and are less likely to be woken up.

16 Skin-To-Skin

We all know how important skin-to-skin is after a baby is born. It helps regulate their temperature and calm them down as they can feel mom’s heartbeat. Skin-to-skin is still useful when the baby has come home from the hospital. If the baby is particularly fussy, it is always a good idea to at least try and do some skin-to-skin at home.

This is a great strategy because it is something that dad can do as well. Dad’s can sometimes feel helpless when it comes to taking care of a new baby, especially if the mom is breastfeeding. They want to help, and this is a great way for dad to help while mom sneaks in a bath or a quick nap.

15 Baby Wearing

Newborns want to be held a lot, almost all of the time. They feel secure and safe this way, but it can be challenging for a mom who has other things to do and older children to care for. Babywearing is the solution to this problem. Sometimes, newborns get overtired and it can be impossible for them to get a nap in unless they are being held.

If mom wears her baby in a carrier or sling, she can make sure her little one gets some sleep as well as get some things done around the house. An expert baby-wearer can even manage to breastfeed while her baby is in the carrier.

14 Watch The Feeding

It is important to watch how much our babies are eating, because if a baby has eaten too much then they are bound to have an upset stomach and it will be harder, if not impossible, to get them to settle down to take a nap. We must remember how big a baby’s stomach is because it is not very big.

This may only apply to mom’s who are feeding their baby formula because it is very rare that a breastfed baby will overeat. They normally take what they need and stop. A baby who is being bottle fed may be accidentally eating too much and it could cause some discomfort.

13 Gripe Water Is Your New BFF

A common problem with newborns is gas. Gas is very common with newborns because their body is just learning and getting used to digesting and processing food. This is a new experience for them. They also do not have the ability to express gas themselves, they need help from mom. It is always important to make sure that the baby is burped in the middle of a feeding and after to try and get rid of the trapped air.

If this doesn’t work, or if the baby is having a hard time expelling gas, Gripe water may be your new best friend. Gripe water should only be given to newborns over 1-month and it is a great, all-natural, way to settle down any upset stomachs.

12 Self-Soothing

Self-soothing is not something you can teach a newborn, as they lack the developmental ability to be able to self-soothe, but it is definitely something mom can still encourage. A lot of people warn new mom’s not to let their baby suck their thumb or fingers, and that it will create a bad habit that will be impossible to break. It is important to let your newborn do these things because, chances are, they did this in the womb and it is comforting to them.

It is also OK to offer a pacifier. Pacifiers are great at calming babies down and they also reduce the risk of SIDS. A sucking motion is very calming to a baby, so it is important that they are provided with the tools to help them calm down.

11 Change The Diet

We mention a lot about upset stomachs, but that is because it could be a big factor in whether your newborn is going to settle down to go to sleep. If mom is noticing that her little one is fussy after a meal instead of sleepy, she should start to wonder if the baby is having a bad reaction to something in their diet.

A newborn’s diet only consists of breastmilk or formula, so the options are limited. If the baby is breastfed, mom should think back to what she ate that could be affecting the little one. If the baby is formula-fed, mom should consider trying a new kind to see if that solves the problem.

10 Keep A Log

The days with a newborn can pass by in a blur and it can be hard to remember anything. If mom really wants to pinpoint why her baby is fussy so much when she is trying to get them to sleep, it is always a good idea to keep a log. Write down everything that happens to your baby in the day. When they eat, burp, get a diaper change and sleep. Even write down when they are fussy.

This information could be extremely helpful in trying to figure out what is bothering your little one. If mom has to talk to her doctor about her newborn’s fussiness, this log will also be great to show them as it will offer them insight into the baby’s day.

9 Limit The Naps

Never wake a sleeping baby. This is the mantra that all new parents are told- that if a baby is sleeping, you should never wake them up. This is not always true. A newborn will normally have to be woken up because they need to eat so often. Newborns are generally sleepy, and it could cause concern if they sleep through feedings and do not put on the right amount of weight.

Newborns also have the ability to only have one long stretch of sleep a day. Sleeping 5 hours is about the most a newborn can do, and mom needs this to happen at night so that she can get some rest. This means that mom does not want her newborn sleeping longer than three hours at a time. Even if the baby is only awake to eat and goes back to sleep, that is OK.

8 Go Through The Checklist: Temperature

We mentioned before that this new world is very intimidating to a baby. It can feel very cold. Parents want to make sure their baby is nice and comfortable, which can often mean that they overdress them. They don’t want their baby to be cold, so they layer them up. This could cause fussiness at bedtime when the baby is wearing too many layers.

The rule of thumb has always been to put them in one extra layer than you normally wear. If you wear one layer to bed, put the baby in a onesie and sleeper. Never judge a baby’s temperature by touching their feet or hands, as these are often cold. Always use the baby’s torso to judge how hot/cold they are.

7 Go Through The Checklist: String

There is this new alert going around social media, but it has helped a lot of parents out there. Parents are now checking their little one’s toes and fingers when they are extra fussy for strings. Strings from sleepers and clothing can detach and wrap around the baby’s toes and fingers which would be uncomfortable and cause them to be a bit fussy.

Even mom’s hair can get wrapped around a little digit. Mom’s experience a lot of postpartum hair loss so it would not be abnormal to find hairs in the baby’s sleeper. If a baby is fussy for no apparent reason, it is always a good idea to strip them down and just do a good check.

6 Go Through The Checklist: Sick

As hard as we try to prevent it, sometimes our newborns get sick. We try our hardest to make sure no one is around them who is sick or has been sick, but we can not place them in a plastic bubble though we wish we could. If a newborn is sick, it is going to make them fussier than normal. A sick newborn should be seen by a doctor right away, especially if they have a fever.

To calm a fussy baby due to sickness it is important to just keep them hydrated. The doctor may give you the approval to give them some Tylenol, but nothing will help more than time. Try all of the tricks in your sleeve to recreate the womb and make a peaceful environment.

5 Go Through The Checklist: Overstimulated

The world may be loud and smell weird, but it is also bright. Newborns don’t have the greatest eyesight, but they can see enough to be amazed by the new world around them. This can lead them to get overstimulated because too much is going on and it is a bit overwhelming for them. This can make a baby fussy and may lead them to be overtired.

The best way to handle this situation is to recreate the womb. Take the baby to a dark room, with a white noise machine and gently rock them. This may take a bit, but eventually, they will calm down enough to go to sleep. Newborns need a little help to calm their senses when they are in overdrive.

4 Newborns Can Get Bored Too

Just as a newborn can get overstimulated, they can also get bored. While it may not happen often, there is a chance that your newborn is fussy because they are a little bored. This doesn’t mean that you have to pull out the toys and musical instruments, but you need to do something to amaze them.

Luckily, newborns are easily amazed. All it could take is mom reading a story or singing a song to entertain them. They may relax just by hearing mom’s voice. It also could be as simple as changing the direction they are looking. They have seen all they can see from this side, change it up and give them a different view.

3 Is It Colic?

In some situations, a fussy newborn could have colic. This would be crystal clear to mom and dad if their baby got fussy around the same time every day and it lasted for a long period of time. If nothing mom or dad does seems to help, chances are their baby has colic.

This can only be diagnosed by a doctor, and they will be able to give mom and dad tools to get through this period. Colic is a phase that the baby will eventually grow out of, even if it seems that it will never end. It is important to reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby. They are there to help.

2 Teething Already?


Did you know there are instances where a baby is born with teeth? It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. This would mean that there is a chance that your newborn is teething. Sometimes, babies can show symptoms of teething for months before a tooth actually makes an appearance. Mom can ask her doctor if she can give the baby some Tylenol for the pain.

It is also OK to introduce some cool teething toys as well for the baby to chew on. Some common signs that your baby is teething is red cheeks, trying to put their fist in their mouth and increased amount of drool. Mom can even try and rub her fingers along the baby’s gums to help provide some comfort.

1 Calm Down Mom!

Sometimes the best thing you can do to help calm a fussy baby is to calm down mom. An upset and frustrated mom is no good to anyone, and there may be moments she needs to walk away. This is OK and encouraged. If mom is at her breaking point, she needs to put the baby down somewhere safe (like their crib/bassinet) and walk away. Take a few moments to calm down and then return to the situation with a clear mind.

If dad is around and sees mom is getting upset, he needs to take over. Take the baby and let mom cool down. You will find that a calm mom is better equipped to help calm a baby down. Baby’s can sense their mom’s emotions and will feed off of them.

References: healthychildren.org

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