It’s a fact of life that babies cry. Babies cry for many reasons, and sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. Some cry more than others, but chances are you will have at least a few times (and probably many more!) when you want to pull your hair out because your baby just won’t stop crying.
If your baby is crying, check the basics first. Is she hungry? Babies have small stomachs, so even if you think your baby must be full, offer milk anyway. Is her diaper wet or soiled? Does she have a diaper rash? Is she sick or running a fever?
Once you’ve taken care of the basics, here are 30 more ideas you can try when your fussy baby won’t stop crying.
1. Remove distractions and overstimulation to create a calm, soothing environment. Dim the lights, turn off the television, etc.
2. Wear your baby! Wrapping your baby close to your body is a surefire way to stop the crying, and you can even get things done at the same time. Research confirms that babies who are carried more, cry significantly less than babies who aren’t, and this effect carries over when they’re not in the baby carrier. For newborns, I personally recommend a stretchy wrap like a Boba wrap or Baby K’Tan for comfort and ease of use.
3. Since the invention of the car, parents have been driving around trying to get their fussy babies to sleep. Ford even made a bassinet that mimics riding in a car.
4. You can get the same sleep-inducing rolling vibrations from taking baby for a walk around the block in the stroller too.
5. When your baby won’t stop crying, try the “superbaby” pose. This is where you hold your baby prone (chest down) on your forearm. Her legs go on either side of your arm, and your hand supports her head. You can stand and rock your baby like this, or “fly” baby in gentle swoops or by walking around the room.
6. Most babies will easily settle and fall asleep lying on a parent’s chest, especially if you’re both shirtless (drape a light blanket over the two of you). The skin-to-skin warmth and heartbeat are soothing. If you’re lying on the couch or another soft surface, do not fall asleep while baby is sleeping on you.
7. Even if baby isn’t hungry, comfort nursing is totally a thing. Most babies will happily fall asleep while nursing, and nursing means they’re not crying! Some moms are concerned about being used as a “pacifier”, but it’s entirely normal for your baby to get comfort from being close to you.
8. If you’re not breastfeeding, try offering a pacifier to simulate the comfort of nursing.
9. For many moms, me included, bedsharing keeps baby close for soothing and nursing as needed. If you bedshare, be sure to follow safe co-sleeping guidelines. Bedsharing is not recommended in cases where parents smoke (or if mom smoked during pregnancy), are under the influence of sedative medication, drugs or alcohol, or are extremely overweight. Bedsharing is safest when baby is breastfeeding.
10. Most people instinctively stand and bounce while holding a crying baby. The rhythmic movement can soothe baby’s crying and help her settle.
11. Try dancing with your baby! Go ahead and do the waltz, tango, or samba.
12. Also try cradling baby in your arms and rocking or swaying back and forth with your hips.
13. Check your baby’s fingers and toes for hair tourniquets. If you have a boy, check his penis too. A hair tourniquet is when a long hair or thread gets wrapped around a tiny appendage cutting off the blood flow. It hurts and baby can’t tell you.
14. If you suspect your baby might have gas, try lying him on his back and bicycling his legs to *ahem* move things along.
15. Swaddling your newborn can help calm baby and promote sleep. Use a light blanket (muslin blankets are popular for their breathability), and be sure to follow safety considerations like laying baby on his back and keeping the swaddle loose around his hips. Swaddling should be phased out before baby starts trying to roll over, around 2 months.
16. If you’re away from your baby or if someone else is trying to soothe your baby, have them swaddle her in a receiving blanket that you’ve slept with so it smells like mom.
17. William Congreve said, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast”, and hopefully that includes your cranky baby! Experiment with different kinds of music to see what your baby likes best. Moms on my Facebook page had suggestions ranging from Pavarotti to Roger Miller, bluegrass to Aerosmith.
18. Pick a special lullaby for you and your baby and sing to her. She won’t judge you, so no matter what you think of your voice, your baby will respond. Dads should try as well. Some babies just respond better to dad’s deeper voice.
19. People (and babies) sleep better when the room is slightly cool, but you can minimize temperature shock by warming up their sleeping area with a hot water bottle before putting the baby down. Be sure to remove the hot water bottle before putting the baby in!
20. Try a soothing baby massage. Studies have shown that baby massage can help reduce fussiness and crying and improve sleep quality. Coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil and sunflower oil are all popular and safe choices for baby. Avoid olive oil if baby has dry skin, broken skin, or eczema.
21. White noise is known to be soothing for fussy babies. You don’t need to leave your TV on or buy a white noise machine though. You can find dozens of free white noise apps for your phone.
22. If white noise isn’t your baby’s thing, try the gentler sound of rain or waves.
23. Lots of parents swear by the vacuum cleaner. Try vacuuming near baby’s sleeping area or strap baby into the carrier and start vacuuming. And hey, if it doesn’t work, at least your floor will be cleaner!
24. Shushing isn’t just for Good Night, Moon. Loud, rhythmic shushing is supposed to sound like blood flow in the womb, and many babies find the sound soothing.
25. Get outside! A change of scenery can do both of you some good.
If those tips aren’t cutting it, maybe one of these toys or gadgets might help.
26. Vibrating baby bouncers come with all sorts of extra features and associated price points. Personally, I found the cheap one worked just fine for both my kids. The basic seat has a little motor that vibrates the seat, and you can bounce the seat with your foot. As long as they are not yet able to sit up on their own, they can fall asleep safely in the seat with a harness, but DO NOT leave your baby unattended in a bouncer.
27. When Tee was a couple of months old, Grandma picked up a second-hand baby swing at a garage sale for $7. Best value for money ever! It was a clunker, but the rhythmic motion really helped soothe both my babies when they were fussy. Newer models have extra features like different swing motions, multiple speeds, music, and toys.
28. The Baby Shusher calls itself the soothing sleep miracle for babies. When you’re tired of manual (vocal?) shushing, this little portable device will do it for you.
29. Do you remember hearing about the miracle Lulla doll that parents went crazy for a couple of years ago? This soft doll simulates your heartbeat and breathing to help soothe your baby.
30. These plush Fisher-Price cuddle toys play music and vibrate gently, and they’re pretty popular with parents on Amazon.
If all else fails and you find yourself becoming frustrated or angry, take a break. Put your baby in a safe place like their crib or a playpen and walk away for five minutes to regain your cool. Call for help from your partner, friends, or family if you need it.
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