Babies cry. That’s usually how they communicate their need for basic requirements such as food, warmth, and sleep. Crying babies can also be difficult to soothe and calm, and the inability to calm a crying baby can make the new parents feel helpless.
What Can Cause A Baby To Cry?
Anything can make a baby cry, but the following are the most common causes:
- Sleepiness and tiredness
- Soiled diaper
- Frustration and anxiety
- Changes in temperature
- Pain and discomfort
Parents can usually identify the most likely reason for their baby’s crying. It is when they settle to calm the baby that the real challenge begins.
[ Read: Baby’s Hunger Cues ]
How To Calm A Crying Baby?
1. Check for any basic requirements:
- First, check if any basic requirement needs to be addressed.
- Start by checking if the baby just soiled the diapers.
- Check the feeding schedule and see if it is time for the baby’s next feed. Avoid erratic feeding patterns, as that will make it difficult to know when the baby is hungry.
- Check if the baby is dressed appropriately for the weather and also the ambient temperature. If not, dress the infant in the right clothes and adjust the room temperature to the one that best suits the season.
2. Check for sickness:
- Does your baby’s body feel warm to touch? If so, then it could be a fever, and it is good to check the temperature. Check the rectal temperature, using a digital thermometer, for the most accurate reading in babies younger than three months (3).
- If you are not sure how to measure rectal temperature, take them to a doctor.
- If your baby has other signs of illness such as loss of appetite, weakness, and cold then it is quite likely that they are crying because of pain and discomfort.
3. Hold, cuddle, and massage
- If your baby is healthy with no signs of illness, then it is quite likely that all they need is some comforting.
- Take your baby in your arms and hold them close to you till they have calmed down. The comfort from cuddling will help ease their anxiety and frustration.
- Place the baby in your arms in a way that they lie on their left side of the body. This position aids in digestion. Rub their back to make them feel comforted. If your baby stops crying and falls asleep, then place them in their crib on their back.
- You can also consider massaging the baby. Gently massaging the tummy clockwise, in circular strokes may help in digestion. You can also gently massage the baby’s limbs and back to soothe them.
4. Swaddle the baby:
- Medical experts state that swaddling resembles the conditions inside the womb, and thus comforts the baby (4). Swaddling can help calm babies and promote sleep.
- Swaddling is best for infants younger than two months, since older babies may attempt to roll while swaddled and turn into a precarious position.
- Wrap a small blanket snugly around the baby. Make sure to wrap the blankets upwards from the legs, wrap the two ends, one over the another and neatly tuck it all.
- Always place the baby on their back for sleep after swaddling. If your baby is over four months old, then they can roll from tummy to back, and at six months they can roll from back to the tummy as well (5) (6). So if you want to swaddle a baby aged four months or more, always keep them under supervision.
5. Rock the baby gently
- If the baby continues to cry even after swaddling, then gently rock them gently while holding them in your arms.
- You can also place them in a cradle and gently rock the cradle to soothe the crying baby.
6. Sing or read to the baby
- Sing a song or read a nursery rhyme to distract the baby. Ask your partner or other family members to help keep the baby engrossed in the act.
- You can also hum a tune to soothe the crying baby, while gently rocking them in your arms.
7. Play a calming sound or song
- If singing does not work, play some music on a speaker instead. Pick calming music of your choice and play it at a low volume to soothe the crying baby.
- Some infants feel better listening to the sounds of nature such as birds chirping, water stream, and the rustling of the leaves. Some other infants enjoy lullabies or even pop music.
- A study noted that babies tend to prefer music that has a repetitive melody (7), probably because they are used to repetitive sounds in the womb, such as the heartbeat of their mother and the blood constantly moving through the blood vessels.
[ Read: How To Deal With A Whiny Baby ]
8. Take them out for a stroll
- A change of surroundings can work as an excellent distraction for the baby especially when they seem to cry because of boredom.
- You can take the baby to a place with several exciting things to see. A park will be a nice idea.
9. Give the baby a pacifier
- If nothing works, you can offer the baby a pacifier. Babies find the sucking action soothing and always find comfort by putting their fingers in their mouth. A pacifier helps soothe the baby while also reducing the risk of a condition called sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It is okay to let the baby use a pacifier at bedtime.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of a one-piece pacifier, which is made from a single piece of material (8).
One of these tricks should work in soothing the baby and stop them from crying. Note that you may have to try one or more before you find one that works for your baby. In the meantime, you have to do what it takes to keep calm and not get frustrated.
How Can Parents Deal With Their Frustration?
Is your baby fussy and testing your patience? Here is what you should do to stay calm and deal with your frustration effectively.
- Count till 10 and take deep breaths: Do not let the crying get to your nerves. Taking deep breaths can help ease the tension within. You can distract your mind by counting till ten or even beyond.
- Sing or play a song for yourself: Sing or listen to a song that makes you happy or relaxed. Pick a song that is likely to calm your baby too.
- Designate a friend or family member for baby duties: Ask your partner to look after the crying baby. If you live in a joint family, then assign the task to a family member. If you are all by yourself, then call a friend or a family member to your place to help you out.
Having someone else look after the child allows you to take some time off. In that time, do some household chores, or listen to some music that will calm you down.
- Understand that babies do cry: Just because your baby cries a lot does not mean you are a bad parent. Crying is a baby’s natural way of expressing their frustration and busting some stress. If your baby is otherwise healthy but cries, then it is because they feel like doing so and not because you did something wrong. So, avoid blaming yourself or doubting your parenting abilities every time your baby cries.
Most importantly, never strike, jerk, or move the baby violently around to make them stop crying. Slapping or punishing an infant is not a good idea since it can exacerbate crying and also make them feel miserable. If the baby’s crying has become the biggest concern about parenting, then consult a pediatrician who can give you more insights into the reasons why your child cries.
[ Read: Stress In Babies ]
Keep in mind that your baby will eventually outgrow crying as they grow up. Have patience and adhere to preventive methods to tackle difficult moments with the baby. You’ll get better at dealing with the baby’s crying with experience.
Do you have a trick or two to soothe a crying baby? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
2. Calming Techniques for a Crying Baby; Children’s Hospital Colorado
3. How to Take a Child’s Temperature; American Academy of Pediatrics
4. Swaddling: Is it Safe?; American Academy of Pediatrics
5. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Four Months; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
6. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Six Months; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
7. Music of Mozart Soothes Preemie Babies; Penn State University
8. Pacifiers: Satisfying Your Baby’s Needs; American Academy of Pediatrics
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