How to calm a crying baby

Published by Baby Bunting on Monday, January 28, 2019

Babies cry for a number of reasons. Young babies cry a lot because it can be their only way of getting attention. You will best be able to calm a baby if you can understand why it is they are crying. Hungry babies, for example, will obviously want to be fed, and tired babies will want to be put to sleep
Sometimes, even though you've seen to your baby's immediate needs, you might still find them crying. Although this is natural, it can be quite distressing for both of you. Try some of the strategies below for soothing a seemingly inconsolable infant.


Whatever methods you try, it's up to you and your baby to discover what works best. And what works should be used frequently; regularity and repetition offer a nice sense of comfort and security to a young baby. Being predictable will eventually decrease your baby's overall time spent crying.

Reduce stimulation

Are you outside? In a busy area with lots of people or noise? Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. If you're at home, take your baby to a darker, quieter part of the house where there are fewer distractions and fewer things to focus on. If you're out and about, get away from the action if you can, even if it means popping into a parked car for a moment.

Introduce stimulation

Alternatively, your baby might need to be distracted. Take your baby outside, place them on a play mat with a mobile, play some songs or music for them or introduce them to someone new.

Provide background noise

You know that 'hushhhh' sound you make? That's a lot like being back in the womb for your baby, where their ears are full of liquid and they can hear the rush of your blood. Turn on a fan, turn on a vacuum or play a recording of nature sounds – all of these simulate the constant background noise they've become acclimatised to.


Swaddling your baby can also simulate the snugness of the womb and calm your baby right down. It gives them that sense of warmth and security that they've just spent the last 9 months getting used to.

Use a sling/baby carrier

Even around the house, this is a good way to give your baby warmth and security without necessarily putting them down to bed. You will be able to continue whatever you're doing and even your body's motion might be just the thing to calm them.

Jump in the car

Employing the motion principle, a ride in the car might be just what your baby needs. Use the opportunity to go to the shops, visit a friend or as an excuse to take a walk in the park.

Give a massage

Just as much as you love a good massage, so will your baby. Using a bit of lotion or baby oil, you can start with your baby's feet and work your way up to their stomach, back and arms, even their faces, using long, gentle strokes. Massaging baby's stomach and moving their legs in a gentle cycling motion is also a method for helping them pass wind.

Take a bath

Immersing your baby in that nice warm water is another way to simulate being back inside the womb and, as you know, a great way to feel spoiled. The sound of the running water is also likely to calm them.

Front or side position

Laying your baby down on their front or side can sometimes be calming while you gently pat them and rub their back. The only things you need to consider is that their breathing is unrestricted and that you never leave them asleep in these positions. Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs.

Rock and sing

If you have a bassinet or a rocking chair, or even just using your arms, you will be able to soothe your baby with a gentle rocking motion. This is a nice time to sing to them as they increasingly get used to the sound of your voice.

What about colic?

Colic is a term used to describe excessive crying in babies. It has often been defined by the rule of three: crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for three weeks. Doctors aren't exactly sure what causes colic, although some suggest it might be dietary or digestive. Colic affects about 1 in 5 babies.

While some of the above methods might help soothe colicky infants, sometimes nothing but time will do. This can be both frustrating and worrying since parents don't want their children to be in any sort of distress, and nothing tugs at the heartstrings more than their baby's cries. Rest assured, though, that colic is temporary and will pass.

If you have concerns that it might be something worse, or you yourself are getting frustrated and worried about your relationship with your baby, it's important to seek help immediately. There are many 24/7 hotlines available to you that can offer assistance, or you can make an appointment to speak to your doctor, child health nurse or family health centre.

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