10 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby

Megan Van Schaick

fussy babyThere are many reasons babies cry -- dirty diaper, hunger, gas pains, over-stimulation, tired, bored .... But crying is their only form of communication, so it makes sense that they might cry as often as we would talk.

A cry is a request -- sometimes a very loud demand -- for a change in their situation or just some comfort. Sometimes stopping the crying is as simple as changing his diaper. And sometimes it takes a little more effort.

Here are a few tricks to try when your little one turns on the waterworks.

1. Pick her up. So simple! Sometimes she just wants to be held -- don’t we all? Pick up your baby and cradle her head, holding her against your chest so she can hear your heart. Gently pat her back in rhythm with your heart so that she feels even closer to you.

2. Swaddle him. The effect that swaddling can have is amazing. It doesn’t work for all babies, but the simple act of tucking those flailing arms into a blanket often makes babies feel more secure, safer, calmer -- just like how curling up in a warm fleece throw makes us feel better from time to time.

3. Spooning. Really! It sounds a little silly, but it works. Roll your baby onto her side and lay down behind her, sort of enveloping her. You are creating warmth and close quarters similar to what she experienced in the womb, and this familiarity helps calm her.

4. Talk or sing. Your baby spent a long time in the womb listening to your voice and it’s one of the most familiar parts of his surroundings. Try talking gently, making soft shushing sounds, and even singing -- sometimes babies just fall in love with the rhythm of a piece of music.

5. Make noise. Apart from talking and singing, your little guy might find that other sounds around the house make him feel better. Everyone is different, though, so it may take some trial and error. Some love the vacuum cleaner or dryer. Others prefer the sound of a fan whirring, white noise, or wave sounds -- you can even experiment with music.

6. Distract her. This is why you always see people jingling their keys in front of their fussy babes. You can break out the toys, move to another room, go for a walk, act like a goofball. These are all ways to change her focus from “I feel like crying” to “Oooh! Something new!”

7. Use the motion of the ocean. No, not that motion. The real motion of the ocean. Rocking movements are proven pacifiers -- think about how it feels to just bob along in the waves. You can rock with your baby in a chair or hold him tightly in your arms and twist gently from side to side. Some parents swear by baby swings or chairs that vibrate. And there’s always the old standby: driving around the block.

8. Give him a bath.
You know why babies poop in the tub, right? The warm water is not just a muscle relaxant, but a mental relaxant as well. As you swish the warm water around him, he feels enveloped and safe -- and he’s probably also a little distracted, which is a good thing.

9. Have quiet time. She could be overstimulated, hot, or just exhausted. Remove extra clothing like hats, socks, or sweaters and check the temperature of the room. Turn off or dim the lights, especially if she is in a position to look up at them. Try to get rid of extra noise, like radios or televisions and stick to soft noises, like those mentioned above.

10. Give her a massage. Babies just love to be touched. Massage does wonders for them, from simply relaxing tense muscles to relieving pain. It even releases endorphins, which help combat emotional distress -- you know, the stuff that causes crying? Plus, she just feels close to you, which makes her feel loved, which is always a good thing.

There is one caveat to all this. If your baby is just completely inconsolable and nothing has worked, he may have colic. At this point, it’s always best to check for symptoms and to call your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Let's hear it! What is your go-to baby-soothing move?


Image via BF Hoyt/Flickr

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