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Practical Tips for Consoling a Crying Baby

Updated on March 18, 2013

Until parenthood hits you full on the head and that precious bundle of joy you have been waiting for arrives it is hard to understand just how much crying a baby can do. It is when these times come that it is easier to understand the frustrations that some parents have to deal with. Some deal with sleepless nights, hours of crying, and a baby who crys for seemingly no reason on a regular basis. It is important to know that you are not alone. Lots of parents are dealing with fussy babies and many aren't talking about it.

One fussy baby, now two years old and so much happier!
One fussy baby, now two years old and so much happier!

Sick or Hurt

It is also important that you check to make sure your baby isn't hurt or sick when they are crying. This is especially true if this is the first time that they have cried unconsoluably for an extended period of time. It could be that they are experiencing pain or not feeling well.

Start With The Basics

These things have been said a million times before. They aren't a new and revolutionalization, but they are where any parent (or sitter) should start to comfort and console a crying baby.

  1. Is the baby hungry? Basic instincts will have the baby cry when it is hungry. For a new born baby this will be every three to four hours, unless he or she isn't getting enough to eat at a meal. This can happen because of gas, reflux, or nursing problems.

  2. Is the baby dirty? Comfort means a lot to people and this isn't any different for a baby. Is the babies diaper wet or poopy? After all, if the diaper is causing discomfort!

  3. Is the baby uncomfortable? There are a lot of things that can lead to a baby being uncomfortable. He or she might be too hot or too cold. They might want to be swaddled (this is especially true of brand new babies who are used to be crowded and wrapped in warmth while inside the womb).

  4. Does he want to suck, but isn't hungry? Often times sucking is a comforting action. Many babies just want to suck. A parent may try to feed them and find that they suck for a little while and then stop, this is a good sign that the baby wants to suck. It is a good idea to try and use a pacifier.

  5. Can you rock the baby to sleep? Sometimes the baby just wants comfort. Often times your warmth and a little movement is enough to send the baby into dream land and you can sneak the baby into his or her bed.
  6. Does the baby need to burb? Many babies have a hard time with gas (especially bottle fed babies). This is painful and uncomfortable in the stomach. To get the air out you should burb your baby often during feeding. However, it often helps to burb them when they are fussing a lot too. It is comforting to them and if it is gas then you could relieve the problem easily! Try burbing in several positions.

Colic

Many parents deal with colic. In reality it is a diagnosis that means fussy for no known reason. Often times babies who are experiencing colic cry at regular times, for hours, and most days. It can be hardest for his or her primary caregiver. There are a few things to remember when dealing with colic.

  • It will end. While it may seem like all of life is dealing with the crying baby, your baby will grow out of it.

  • Cling to the happy and fun times. That beautiful smile, the gurgles, and the playing. Think of these things when the baby cries.

  • You are not alone. Sure, none of the other mom's talk about the monster thier child turns into, it might make others think they are a bad mom. None-the-less, you are not alone and others deal with this as well!

Conair Sound Therapy Sound Machine
Conair Sound Therapy Sound Machine

This is a great white noise machine with other sounds as well. We love ours and our son likes it too!

 

Beyond Needs

Sometimes the baby cries for no known reason. This might be because of being uncomfortable inside such as with gas or reflux. It might be because of being over stimulated such as by sounds, visual stimulation, or even a lot of people around them. Even being over tired can make it hard for a baby to go to sleep and they will cry because of it (this is something that continues on for a few years even). When those times present themselves there are several things you can try to calm the baby.

  1. Rocking chair time. Many babies love to be rocked and held. You can use a rocking chair to sooth a crying baby (sometimes). It is always worth a try.

  2. White Noise. You can work on soothing the baby with white noise. Try a white noise machine, running the water in the shower, or a fan.

  3. Bouncy Chair or Swing. Some babies like a bouncy chair or swing. If your baby likes it then it is always worth a try.

  4. Lullabuys. Singing and talking to your baby might help.

  5. Bath time. Many babies who like baths will love having one when upset. You can even get Johnson's Soothing bath time in relaxing fragrences such as lavender. Take your time bathing the baby in warm water.

  6. Baby massage. Massages make us feel good and many babies would agree. You can rub the babies tummy or back in a small circular motion. This can be very relaxing.

Doctor, Doctor!

Let your baby's doctor know how much they are crying when you go to well visits. It is also a good idea to keep track of how much they spit up so that the doctor can look for reflux which could be your babies crying problem. It is also important that you write down any questions that you have and ask the doctor when you go. Don't be afraid to ask questions! It might be the very help you need.

Getting Creative

Sometimes creativity is the only way to go. My son Marcus would cry about the same time each day while my husband was at work. He would go on for hours and hours. Finally, when I thought I would go crazy I found something that would work. I would put on my favorite music, hold him against my shoulder, and dance around the room. Often times I got tired. He would start crying if I stopped, but eventually he feel into a deep enough sleep that I could then lay him down gently. Sometimes I danced for hours (literally, I was watching the clock!), but it kept my sanity and kept him quiet.

Getting creative can be very helpful. Music and dancing might not do it for your kid, but something else might just be the key. My husband's uncle said he would drive his collicky kids around in the middle of the night so they would be quiet.

Something All Parents Should Be Told

I was eight months old and visiting a camp. It was here that I was told this story. At the time it horrified me. I couldn't believe what I was told, though I nodded and smiled politely.

The woman was very serious and she told me that parenthood would be more then I ever imagined. She told me that about a month after her oldest daughter was born she was trying to console her. She had been crying for hours and it was really grating on her nerves. She said that for a brief minute she thought about throwing her new baby girl out the window to stop the crying. She was horrified by the thought and it made her feel horrible. As she finished the story she told me that the point was there were times when horrible thoughts pop into parents brains when they are at their wits ends, but this doesn't make them bad parents. Only acting upon these thoughts makes people bad parents.

I pass this on to you. My son is two now and I can attest that there are times when, at your wits end, after long bouts of crying horrifying thoughts can and do pop into your head.

Don't Stand Alone

If your baby is fussy, don't be afraid to let others know. You may find out that a lot of people have fussy babies and feel (or felt) completely alone but they don't tell anyone because they are afraid others will look down on them like they are bad parents. It isn't your fault that your baby is fussy! Plus you are not alone. It will also be easier to call for help if you need it! If they don't believe you then make sure they see your baby in action!

It may take trying a million things over and over again. It may feel like it never ends. But it will and there are sunnier times beyond the rainbow. With a little work you will find the things that work best or most often for your baby and eventually he or she will grow out of the fussy times and into a small person with a beautiful smile that fills your heart with hope and joy. Make sure you aren't too hard on yourself and that you aren't blaming yourself for a fussy baby. You are doing a good job! After all, you wouldn't be reading these words if you weren't a great person and a great parent!

Comments

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  • ajcor profile image

    ajcor 

    10 years ago from NSW. Australia

    I remember so clearly when my older son (6 weeks premature) used to have to be fed every 3 hours, (because he was so tiny - 4lbs4ozs) he was so little it would take about 1 hour to get the milk down then he would cry for about an hour and then he would sleep for what felt like 6 minutes. Went on for what felt like years but was in reality about four months from his birth date. He too grew into a really lovely little boy - happy and loving - there is always so much joy with your children!

    My tip is that as he was fighting off the sleep I would very gently stroke the bridge of his nose so that he had to shut his eyes each time I stroked his face - and yes it seemed that we were always driving around the lake with him (the little treasure) strapped into his bassinet on the back seat of the car. I also took the time to make sure there was no wind left inside him to create pain.

  • shawna.wilson profile image

    shawna.wilson 

    10 years ago from Arizona

    Oh, and swaddling was a life saver for us too!

  • shawna.wilson profile image

    shawna.wilson 

    10 years ago from Arizona

    Great article. My oldest child had colic, and it was so hard to get through. We found a few things that worked to console him: going outside, taking a bath, and using the baby swing. When he wasn't doing one of those things, he cried ALOT and so did I!!! Like the books say, his colic came to an end right at 3 months, and he's been a happy guy ever since. Thank goodness!

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