Having a new baby is one of life’s greatest joys, but it can also be stressful and tiring, especially when your little one is crying inconsolably. All babies cry, it’s how they communicate hunger, discomfort, overstimulation or a need for comfort. However, prolonged crying in a newborn can be frustrating and worrying for new parents. The good news is there are several effective techniques you can try to soothe your crying baby and help them feel calm and secure.
When your baby cries, respond as soon as possible. Babies have very little capacity to self-soothe, so they rely on you for comfort. Responding to your baby’s cries will not spoil them or lead to manipulation. In fact, studies show that consistently attending to a crying baby leads to more independent and securely attached kids down the road. Pick up and comfort your baby when they cry so they learn to trust you’ll meet their needs.
Swaddle Your Baby
Swaddling provides a cozy feeling that reminds your baby of the snugness of the womb. Many babies love being wrapped up snugly in a light muslin blanket. Make sure to swaddle properly with their arms down and avoid overheating. The startle reflex can wake babies up, so containing their movement helps them stay asleep longer. Stop swaddling once your baby can start rolling over.
Provide Motion and White Noise
Rock, walk, or sway with your baby, either in your arms or in a swing, rocker or baby carrier. The gentle repetitive motion is extremely soothing and mimics the movement they felt in the womb. White noise that drowns out household noises also helps lull babies to sleep. Run a loud fan, clothes dryer, white noise app or machine. The womb was very noisy, so white noise reminds your baby of those comforting sounds.
Breastfeed or Offer a Pacifier
Sucking is very calming for babies, so offer your breast or a pacifier if your baby is hungry or seeking comfort. Let your baby breastfeed as long as they want to satisfy their hunger. If you’re bottle feeding or it’s just been a little while since they last ate, try offering a pacifier for soothing sucking. Sucking helps relax babies and the motion itself can distract from whatever is upsetting them.
Give Baby a Warm Bath
A nice warm (not hot!) bath can help relax your baby’s muscles and distract them from whatever is causing discomfort. Make sure to safely support their head as you gently bathe them in infant tub. The calming water and skin contact provides comfort. Afterwards, bundle them snugly in a hooded towel and hold, rock and soothe them.
Take a Walk Outside
Sometimes a change of scenery from the four walls of your home is just what a crying baby needs. Carefully strap your baby into their stroller or carrier and go for a short walk around the block. The gentle motion, change of environment and fresh air can instantly calm a fussy baby. Just be sure baby is dressed appropriately for the weather and shaded from direct sun. Keep the walk peaceful and soothing by avoiding loud places.
Play Calming Music
While suddenly loud noises can startle newborns, calming, soft music is very soothing. Try playing gentle classical, lullabies or nature sounds on a low volume to relax your baby. Hold your little one close and dance or sway together to especially soothing songs. You can even sing lullabies softly. Music has a profound calming and bonding effect.
Try Skin-to-Skin Contact
Known as “kangaroo care,” resting your bare-chested baby on your bare chest provides ultimate comforting closeness. Your familiar warmth and heartbeat are calming, while the skin contact releases oxytocin in both of you. Loose blankets provide privacy and keep you both warm. Use this technique for 20 minutes several times a day, not just when trying to stop crying. Skin-to-skin is highly soothing at any time.
Stay Calm Yourself
It’s understandably frustrating and worrying when your baby cries excessively, but try to stay patient and calm yourself. Babies pick up on your stress and tension, which can make them even more agitated. Take deep breaths, listen to calming music, meditate or take a break if needed. Remember, crying is normal and your baby is relying on you for support. Stay centered so you can provide the calming care they need.
Check for Underlying Causes
Ruling out hunger, wet diapers, fever, illness or pain can help you get to the bottom of excessive crying. Discuss any prolonged crying with your pediatrician to be sure there are no medical issues. If it continues past three months of age, colic could be the cause, which fortunately self-resolves. Consider using an app to log when and how long your baby cries, which can reveal patterns for you and your doctor.
Know When to Take a Break
If you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying nonstop, place them safely in their crib on their back for a short break. Make sure the room is safe and step outside for a few minutes to regroup. Take some deep breaths, listen to music, or just have some water. A brief reset prevents frustration from building – you can’t care for your baby if you lose your cool. Once calm, you’ll be better able to help soothe your little one.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Raising a newborn is hard work. If family or friends offer to help – take them up on it! Having an extra pair of hands to trade off with or even just provide moral support can be a lifesaver when you are exhausted and your baby is crying endlessly. Getting out of the house for a short while can also help renew your patience and energy. Don’t try to tough it out alone.
Crying is your newborn’s main way of communicating with you. While it can be stressful, try to be patient and know this phase shall pass. With time, you’ll get better at interpreting and addressing your baby’s needs. Implementing these calming techniques will help soothe your little one and restore the peace. Stay loving and consistent, and you’ll form a deep bond built on trust and care. The end result is a happier baby – and happier parents too!