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How To Deal With A Crying Baby - Top Tips For Soothing A Baby

Updated on December 17, 2015

Baby Watching The Sea Dreams Soother

How To Soothe A Crying Baby

If your baby is still very young or even a newborn, the first thing to remind yourself is that for the entire time that she was in your womb, your baby knew only you - her mother. She has spent every day of her very short existence listening to your heartbeat and stomach rumbles, hearing your voice and being a part of you.

So when she is born, and she is no longer totally surrounded by her mother, naturally there are going to be times when she is uncomfortable or overwhelmed by her surroundings and her mother is going to be the one thing she really, desperately wants.

In the early weeks, babies don't even distinguish themselves apart from their mothers - they simply assume you are the same person, as you have been throughout your pregnancy.

Hearing your baby cry is one of the toughest things about being a parent - especially with the added strain of sleep-deprivation. But the first thing to do is run through a brief checklist of things your baby might need:

  • a fresh diaper
  • a feed
  • an extra layer of clothing/cooler clothing
  • to be put to bed for a nap
  • some quiet time

Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother
Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother

My son was soothed by this from when we first attached it to his crib. He would lay and watch the creatures and listen to the sounds and would eventually drift off into a lovely deep sleep.


Skin-To-Skin Contact Works Wonders!

Sometimes a baby can become so overcome with tiredness and frustration they just need to be snapped out of the screaming. One thing that worked wonders for me with my son was standing with him in my arms and just gently bouncing and rocking whilst singing a lullaby.

Babies adore movement and love soothing sounds, including 'white noise' because it reminds them of their time in the womb. Usually rocking and 'shhing' your baby gently is enough to calm them when they are younger, but as they get older you have to juggle trying not to instil bad habits (for instance, relying on being rocked or fed to sleep), along with trying to calm your baby down effectively and as quickly as possible.

Skin-to-skin contact is wonderfully comforting for babies - they adore the closeness and warmth from their parents or caregivers and not only does it help bonding, it also releases several hormones which make both individuals feel calmer and happier.

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What About A Car Journey?

Most babies find being in a car seat in a moving car a very relaxing experience simply because, yet again, it reminds them of being in utero: the white noise and gentle movement of the ride see to it that your baby is asleep often with little or no effort from you within ten minutes.

So surely everyone should do this when they are faced with a screaming infant?

Not necessarily! Every infant is different and I personally never got into the habit if taking Alfie (now eight months old) out in the car - purely because I didn't want him to come to rely on this when it came to bedtime.

Instead, what really worked for me was simply the rocking and singing and bouncing as I mentioned previously.

Some babies may find a warm bath relaxing, although honestly my experience of bathing a newborn was that it stressed Alfie out even more and he would cry louder and harder with the removal of each layer of clothing. Again, I know that some babies adore baths but each is unique and every baby has their likes and dislikes.

My Best Trick

From the early weeks of his life, my baby boy would fight sleep with every ounce of energy he had left.

One day he was getting so worked up (through being over-tired), and the usual rocking and bouncing trick wasn't working, so I sat with him and started stroking from his forehead to the tip of his nose over and over again with my index finger... His eyes started rolling almost immediately and he was asleep in two minutes!

This trick still works even though he is now eight months old - though now I have to wait until he is really tired before it will work that quickly. We love our babies - obviously! But sometimes it can be an extremely frustrating experience trying to settle a baby who is beyond the point where you can lull them into a peaceful sleep without tears.

My best advice for new mothers is pay attention to your babies cues to know when she is getting tired so you can out her to bed before she starts feeling stressed. Remember that being tired creates a stress-response in your baby which makes it even harder for her to get to sleep.

Most newborn babies can only stay awake for around 45 minutes at a time, and will sleep 18-20 hours a day (broken into tiny little chunks of awake time for feeding and having a clean nappy put on). This makes the newborn baby phase exhausting for parents, but keep telling yourself that this phase will only last a few weeks. It might encourage you to know that my son started sleeping 5 hours at night when he was five weeks old! Bliss!

Getting A Baby To Sleep Is One Thing...

Getting your baby to stay asleep is a different matter entirely. I found that swaddling was the most effective way to get Alfie to sleep for more than a few hours, because he felt like he was being cuddled even when I out him down in his crib.

I would really recommend swaddling to any parent who has the type of baby who struggles to fall asleep and then wakes up often when you put them down. For a clear demonstration on how to effectively swaddle your baby, watch the below video.

Watch These Tips On Swaddling!

Pros And Cons Of Using Pacifiers For A Newborn Baby

Since they were invented, pacifiers have drawn mixed opinions from parents; some insist that pacifiers are simply a fantastic way to calm a crying baby down almost instantly and others say that pacifiers are for lazy parents.

Like most parents, when I found I was pregnant I set about analysing a load of research that had been carried out regarding the effects of newborn infants using pacifiers or "dummies". There seemed to be a lot of mixed research, though interestingly it appeared that actually there was more positive than negative.

The negative points, to begin with were:

  • Some people consider pacifiers "ugly"
  • Risk of dental issues in children who used pacifiers past the age of five years
  • Attachment to the pacifier and possible waking up crying for the paci
  • Pacifiers require regular cleaning and sterilising

Positive research and points included:

  • Sucking naturally helps relieve babies pain
  • Pacifiers help prevent cot death or SIDS
  • Comfort for the baby
  • Sucking helps babies relax
  • Sucking satisfies the "suck reflex" - most babies have a very real need to suck even if they are not hungry or thirsty
  • Pacifiers help a baby learn to self soothe because it is comforting
  • When the time comes to stop the child using a pacifier it is far easier to take away the pacifier than to stop a child thumb-sucking

I just wanted to add some notes here about the above. Research previously told us mothers that pacifiers could cause dental issues. Since this research was published, new research tells us that as a matter of fact, an infants plata is so soft and malleable that no long lasting effects could be seen unless the child continued regular pacifier use through childhood after the age of five years.

A second point is that choosing to use a pacifier is a personal preference for the parent - the fact that use of a pacifier can prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) far outweighs the negative points for pacifier use and as for pacifiers being "unhygienic" - well, all baby equipment needs to be washed or sterilised regularly - pacifiers are no different than bottles in that respect.

Babies Like Routine

For a new baby, sleep is something that is very much needed to grow and develop mentally as well as physically. Because they have no way of knowing what happens next, a routine is very much appreciated to help them be able to predict roughly what is expected of them and what they can expect of you in return.

Older babies (around six months of age) especially enjoy a simple but consistent bedtime routine such as dinner, a story, bath and a lullaby before being put into their cot, and this will really help your little one distinguish nighttime from day time. Keep the evenings and night feedings relaxed and fairly quiet, and make day time the time for activities, walks and fun games.

As your baby grows, naturally your (and their) routine will evolve, shift and change but keeping the same (or similar) night routine for bedtime will really help you in the long run.

Use A Baby Carrier

There are times when you have a baby when you desperately need two hands free but the baby tends to see to it that this rarely happens... Until the fabulous invention of the baby carriers and slings which make life oh so much more easy!

For housework or for being out and about, having your little one tucked in a sling really does help you be more productive and free whilst ensuring baby is happily snuggled into mum - right where she belongs.

What Worked For You?

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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Definitely good ideas!