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How to Comfort a Crying Baby

How to Comfort a Crying Baby

You've fed, burped, changed, and rocked your baby, but he or she is still crying. And crying. Your nerves are frayed, your sleep is ruined, and you're losing confidence as a new parent. Now what?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's common for infants to have "fussy" periods, especially between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight.

Some babies between 3 weeks and 12 weeks of age cry for long stretches. At this period, there are steps in development when their sleep is less settled.

"Colicky" babies—generally, those who cry nonstop for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week—are thought to have a built-in tendency to overreact to any stimulation like a bowel movement or slight temperature change. In short, they don't easily adjust to the world outside the snug womb. Colic usually disappears around 4 months of age.

Every baby has a unique personality. Just as some babies are laid-back, some babies cry more than others. And the longer a baby cries, the harder it tends to be to get them to stop.

Below are several tear-stopping methods to try.


Swaddling means wrapping newborn babies snugly in a blanket to keep their arms and legs from flailing. This can make a baby feel safe and help him or her fall asleep. You can buy a special swaddling blanket designed to make swaddling easier.

But don’t use swaddling if your baby is 2 months or older, or if your baby can roll over on his or her own. Swaddling may raise the risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) if the swaddled baby rolls onto his or her stomach.

When you swaddle, give your baby enough room to move his or her hips and legs. The legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips. Don’t place your baby’s legs so that they are held together and straight down. This raises the risk that the hip joints won’t grow and develop correctly. This can cause a problem called hip dysplasia and dislocation.

Also be careful of swaddling your baby if the weather is warm or hot. Using a thick blanket in warm weather can make your baby overheat. Instead use a lighter blanket or sheet to swaddle the baby.

Other tips

  • Wear your baby. Babies who are carried more cry less. Wearing baby in a sling for several hours a day also cuts crying and gives constant sound, temperature, and motion that signal comfort. Special slings and carriers allow you to wear your baby while having 1 or 2 hands free. Babies like being close to you because they stay warm, they can hear your breathing and heartbeat, and they like the motion. It is very important to make sure that your baby’s face isn’t covered and that you can see his or her mouth and nose. Placing your baby naked against your bare chest (called skin-to-skin contact) can be very soothing to a crying baby. Some find that taking a warm bath or shower can calm a baby who is upset

  • Switch on a quiet, meditative noise. A running shower, a whirring fan, a white noise machine, or a recording of the vacuum cleaner helps block outside stimulation and may imitate the steady sounds of the womb. It's important to keep the volume low. Constant loud noises can damage your baby's hearing.

  • Get moving. A spin in the car, motion swings, or dancing can also soothe a fussy baby.

  • Drape your baby. Draping your baby along your forearm with his or her head in the crook of your elbow gives warmth and pressure to relax a tense, fussy baby.

  • Shushing noises. You can also try making a shushing noise in the baby's ear. This copies the sounds inside the womb and can be very calming.

  • Pacifiers and nursing. Babies find sucking to be very soothing. If you are breastfeeding, nursing the baby is a great way to offer comfort. Pacifiers can also be used to help the baby self-soothe.

  • Take a stress break. If you have tried everything that you know how to do and your baby is still crying, you can place your infant in a safe place (like a crib or swing) and go into a quiet room for a few minutes. NEVER shake your baby. If you feel yourself losing control of your emotions, take a few minutes to calm yourself before returning to care for your baby.

  • Ask for help. Have your partner, family member, or neighbor care for the baby while you take a break. Having some time to walk, take a bath or shower, or take a short nap can be very beneficial. This time allows you to “recharge” and return to your baby with calm emotions. A colic support group can help you cope until your baby outgrows crying. (And they all do!)

If your baby doesn't respond to the above suggestions, be sure to contact your health care provider to make sure that there are not health concerns that need to be addressed.


Reviewed Date: 02-03-2015

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.