How to calm a crying baby
The following tips will help calm most babies - try a strategy over and over again to find out if it works, remembering that some things will work at times and not at others. When something doesn't work, change your settling strategy and go back and try it again later.
- Hold and comfort your crying baby. Hold them close and snuggled into you wearing a baby sling can make this easier.
- Avoid constantly picking up and putting your baby down.
- Rock or sway gently, or walk around slowly with your baby, but avoid fast or rough movement.
- If your baby doesn't want to be held closely, hold them facing away from you to give them a chance to calm down.
- Put your baby in a pram or sling and walk around outside. Swaddling them in a sheet or wrap may help them sleep, while remembering to shade their eyes from the sun. Go for a walk in a quiet place where you can both feel relaxed.
- Use a baby rocker or bouncinette to calm your bub, making sure the belt is fastened and that the rocker is on the floor and not a table.
- Driving your baby around in the car may also stop any crying, often sending them to sleep.
- Allowing your baby to suck on their fist, fingers or thumb can calm crying.
- Try giving them a dummy - they'll automatically latch on to a dummy if you place it on their lips. (If your baby is breast-fed try to avoid giving a dummy during the first 2-4 weeks as it may affect your baby's suckling ability).
- If breastfeeding, try offering the breast. If formula feeding, sometimes it might help to give the next feed a little earlier. However, try not to give formula more often than every three hours as this may encourage snacking or the baby using the bottle as a dummy.
A soothing bath
A bath may help or it might not. Some babies will relax in warm water, but others will become tense and cry. Always check the water isn't too hot before putting your baby in a bath and never leave them alone, even for a second.
Rubbing your baby gently with natural oil, such as grapeseed or olive oil, can help them feel more relaxed and stop crying. Always stop the massage if your baby isn't happy.
Try offering your baby a favourite toy or book, although this might not work if your baby is overtired. In which, case try the settling and sleep tips above.
This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Sources include The Children's Hospital at Westmead.