How to Soothe Your Crying Baby (+ Infographic)
Every baby cries. A lot. Don’t worry, there are some things you can do to try and soothe her. Read on to learn more
Whatever emotions you’re experiencing – joy at your favourite TV show being renewed for another season or frustration at finding the toilet roll holder empty again – it’s easy for you to express yourself.
Less so for your baby. They’ve only got one way to communicate and it’s not that lovely: crying.
In this guide we’ll take at look at why your baby may be crying, how to settle and soothe them, and where to go for some love and support yourself.
Crying: The basics
Here’s a reassuring fact: it’s completely normal for your baby to cry. It’s how they tell you what they want. Pretty much all babies cry. A lot.
Sometimes you’ll know why your baby is crying. But mostly you’ll be guessing why your baby is crying.
Babies need plenty of love and physical comfort. One way of getting this is by you comforting them when they cry. This helps them feel loved, safe and secure.
Why is my baby crying?
There are lots of reasons why your baby’s crying. They could be crying because they’re:
- Suffering from wind.
- In need of a cuddle.
- Uncomfortable or in pain.
- Too cold or too cold
- In a wet or dirty nappy.
How do I work out why my baby’s crying?
Over time, you might be able to hear the differences in your baby’s cries and understand whether they’re hungry, tired or something else.
But you might not. And that’s completely ok too.
10 ways to settle your crying baby
Give these a try to help calm your crying baby. Rather than trying them all at once, give them each a fair go, and see what your baby responds to best.
1. Check the common reasons
Your first step should be to check all the commons reasons why baby could be crying:
- Try to feed them.
- Change their nappy.
- Give them a cuddle.
- Burp them.
- Change their scenery or give them another toy.
- Pop them down for a sleep.
If that hasn’t done the trick, try something else.
2. Strap them into a front pack
Front packs are great for babies. They feel warm, snuggly and secure. They can hear your voice and feel your heartbeat, both of which are really comforting. By moving around, you may be able to gently rock baby to sleep.
3. Pop them into a pram
Fresh air is always a good idea. They might be distracted by the sights around them or lulled by the movement. You can try pushing the pram gently back and forth over a small bump to relax them.
4. Try a bath
If you’ve got a water baby, pop them into a deep relaxing bath. The warm water might soothe them – or their favourite rubber duck might delight them.
5. Swaddle them
Swaddling can make your baby feel safe and secure, like they felt in the womb.
6. Hold them
Picking your baby up, holding them, gently rocking and cuddling them may them feel loved and comforted.
7. Shush shush shush
The womb is a noisy place, with blood flow making a loud shushing sound. Your baby is used to this noise. Shushing can calm and comfort your baby, easing their tears and fussing.
You can shush into your baby’s ear as you hold them. Shush as loudly as your baby is crying. You can also use white noise – search YouTube.
8. Swing them
In the womb, your baby was often rocked and jiggled as mum moved about. A swinging sensation is familiar and comforting. Support your newborn’s head and gently swing them, moving back and forth no more than 1 inch in any direction.
9. Give them something to suck
Sucking can be comforting for some babies. Try a dummy or your clean thumb.
10. Check for pain
Your baby might be in pain. Check their temperature and the tightness of their swaddle. Look for any scratches or hair wrapped around toes or their penis.
When is crying colic?
Colic is more than normal crying. It can be incredibly tough on baby and their family.
Your baby could have colic if they:
- Cry for several hours a day, normally around the same time; and
- Have no obvious reason for crying; and
- Are hard to comfort, no matter what you try.
Although the cause of colic is unknown, there’s absolutely nothing you or anyone else has done to cause it.
If you’ve got a colicky baby, be kind to yourself. You need lots of rest and help – have a chat to your doctor, midwife or Plunket nurse about ways to manage colic.
Help! I can’t cope with the crying
Listening to your baby cry can be worrying, frustrating and exhausting. The first thing to remember is you’re not alone – a huge number of parents go through the same thing.
If it’s getting too much for you, put your baby in a safe place, like their cot, and sit down quietly by yourself for a bit. Have a cup of tea, read a few pages of a book, or call a friend or family member. Once you’ve calmed down, go and check on your baby.
If nothing is working, or their crying sounds different, or they’re refusing to feed, they might be unwell. Ring your doctor or check with your midwife or Plunket nurse.