by JENNY ILFELD DAVIS, M.D.; Scripps Clinic, Rancho Bernardo

How to Calm a Crying Baby

scrippsYou’ve fed, changed, and played with your baby, but the crying hasn’t stopped. Time to take a deep breath and try these tips to help calm your little one.

Swaddling. Recreate the feeling for your baby of being safe and secure in utero by swaddling. Swaddling – wrapping your baby up in a soft blanket – is a time-tested way to recreate that cozy feeling. Swaddle your baby snugly enough so that the arms stay down and won’t flail out, but make sure there is enough room for little legs to move.

Pacifiers. Many babies are happiest when sucking on something, whether that is a pacifier or your (clean) finger in a pinch. Babies have a natural sucking reflex, and sucking can steady your baby’s heart rate and calm thrashing arms and legs.

White noise. It may seem counter-intuitive, but newborns are often soothed by the steady roar of white noise that blocks out other sounds. While developing in the womb, babies are used to the noise of mom’s bodily sounds, such as a beating heart, so they feel right at home amid noise machines, vacuum cleaners, and fans.

Fresh air. Getting outside can also help soothe your baby, even if it is just stepping out onto the porch or patio, or walking into the backyard. A breath of fresh air and a glimpse of blue sky can also calm your frazzled nerves.

Motion. Movement, especially a swinging motion, can activate a calming reflex. Try wearing your baby and walking around so that your little one can enjoy the feeling of closeness and the rhythm of your walk. For the first three months, make sure your baby is facing your body in a front-pack carrier or sling for extra head support. Rocking your baby in a rocking chair or glider, or using a motorized baby swing, vibrating bouncy seat or an automatic cradle are other time-honored ways to help the cries stop.
Your voice. Singing a song or nursery rhyme will let your baby know that you are there with her. It doesn’t matter if you sing off-key or if you sing a rock tune or croon a lullaby.

Diet. If you are breastfeeding, consider what you are eating that might cause your newborn to have gas or stomach pain. Babies’ digestive systems are still developing, so they may have difficulty processing some of the food you are eating. Check with your doctor about changes that might help.


Jenny Ilfeld Davis, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician at Scripps Clinic, Rancho Bernardo. Dr. Ilfeld believes children are a privilege and joy to take care of and watch grow. She has special interests in nutrition, allergies and asthma, and injury prevention for athletes. When not with her patients, she enjoys cooking, traveling, dancing, and spending time with her family.


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