crying baby

The Crying Game – Soothing Your Newborn

To learn what should you do to calm your crying baby read our article. With the advice of experts and the experience of mothers, you will have less trouble.

As I caressed my pregnant belly, I couldn’t wait for my baby to arrive. I had visions of watching her sleep and snuggling with her while she nursed. When she was born, I got much more than I imagined. Although there was plenty of snuggling, and a few moments of sleep, my pregnancy dreams had never included my baby’s favorite activity: crying.

It’s amazing how much noise a 10-pound mass of human can create. And it’s even more amazing how inadequate new parents can feel when they can’t soothe their newborns. But there is help. Below, experts and experienced parents share their tips for winning The Crying Game.

What can you do to soothe a crying baby ?

  • Stay calm. The best thing parents can do for their crying baby is to stay calm. An increase in your stress level will increase your baby’s. Remain calm and your baby might follow suit.
  • Check Baby’s diaper. A wet or soiled diaper is one of the most common reasons for a baby’s tears. Check it first, and change as needed. Also, read our article, if you can’t decide which diaper to use : The Diapering Dilemma Cloth vs Disposable.
  • Check Baby’s temperature. Feel the back of your baby’s neck to see if she is too hot or too cold. Add or remove layers accordingly.
  • Feed her. Most babies cry when they are hungry. Try offering the breast or bottle to soothe your little one.
  • Ease gas pain. If baby starts crying after a feeding, he may have a gas bubble. Try patting his back, bending his knees toward his chest, or rubbing his back while he lies on your lap to release the gas. To learn more about gas pains in babies : Gas Problems in Babies: Causes & Prevention.
  • Distract him. Dr. Paula M. Elbirt, assistant clinical professor at The Mount Sinai Hospital and author of several parenting books, including Dr. Paula’s House Calls to Your Newborn , says it’s surprising how often this method works. She suggests making faces or blowing raspberries to take your baby’s mind off the reason for his tears.
  • Snuggle. Sometimes, all a baby needs is love. Take a few moments to snuggle with your little one. Give him kisses and hugs, hold him close and tell him how much you love him.
  • Hold on. Ann Douglas, experienced mom and author of many parenting books, including Happy Parents Happy Kids, suggests that parents experiment with the way they hold their babies. Some little ones like to be held over the shoulder, some prefer the football hold, and still others like to be held facing out. Experiment to learn what your infant likes best.
  • Sing or hum. Soft, gentle songs sung by a familiar voice will often calm baby’s cries – even if the singer is not particularly gifted. Humming also offers a soothing vibratory sensation. Kara Wilson, a mom from Santa Barbara, Calif., suggests a variation to the hum: a Zzzzz sound to a familiar tune.
  • Dance. Many moms do this instinctively. A slow, repetitive motion can lull baby into a peaceful state. The warmth of a loved one’s body and the snuggling that goes along with the dance are added benefits.
  • Gently rock or bounce. Rocking in a chair or baby swing often helps to calm a baby, but pay attention to your child’s cues. For some little ones, the motion can actually be over-stimulating. Dr. Ronald Collier, a pediatrician in Cottage Hills, Ill., recommends a gentle bounce with baby. “Hold the baby chest-to-chest in an upright position and bend slightly at the knees,” he says. This movement imitates the gentle motion baby experiences in the womb.
  • Undress Baby. Sometimes the reason for baby’s discomfort lies beneath the surface. For this reason, Dr. Elbirt suggests undressing your baby completely and looking to see if you can spot a physical problem. Snaps can pinch little legs and diaper tape can stick to tender skin. Bernice Becker, a mom from Peoria, Ill., recalls, “My baby’s worst screaming spell ever was caused by a hair that somehow got wrapped around her toe and was cutting off her circulation.” Without undressing her infant, she would not have found the cause of discomfort.
  • Give a bath. Warmth and water offer many calming benefits. A few drops of lavender oil in the bath can also help baby relax. The bath might help ease mom’s tension, too, so feel free to hop in with your little one.
  • Skin-to-skin contact. Studies have shown that holding baby right against your body, with chests and abdomens touching, not only calms babies but also enhances the maternal-infant bond.
  • Massage her. Lay your bare baby on a warm, firm surface in a frog-like position, and then gently rub her back, aiming toward the lower back. Don’t rub too lightly, though, or you could tickle her and make her even fussier. This method can be so effective that baby falls asleep. If this happens, be sure to turn her over to her back so she can sleep safely.
  • Pacify him. Although the use of pacifiers is controversial in some circles, many babies find comfort in sucking. If your baby doesn’t need to be fed, but does need to suck, offer one and see how he reacts.
  • Reduce external stimulation. Babies sometimes cry because there is too much going on for their little minds to process. Try dimming the lights, removing toys, and reducing noise levels.
  • Swaddle. Wrapping your baby tightly in a warm, soft blanket can help her calm down. Because babies don’t realize that the flailing arms they see are their own, they may become frightened by them. Swaddling reduces anxiety and returns them to a womb-like state.
  • Go for a drive. Few things can calm a baby as effectively as a ride in the car. The vibrations and soothing sound can hush even the most persistent wails. But take Douglas’s advice: “Know your route.” Keep the number of stop signs and traffic lights to a minimum so baby won’t be jarred awake by continual starts and stops.
  • Go for a stroll. Fresh air and sunshine can help mom and baby feel better. Break out the stroller or the baby sling and take a walk around the block.
  • Use white noise. A tool used by many parents of inconsolable babies is “white noise.” Any continuous mechanical sound can help calm a baby and put him to sleep. Vacuums, hair dryers and fans are examples. If you find a noise that works for baby, make a tape of it – for safety and sanity.
  • Know when to surrender. Even the most calm and patient parent can reach her breaking point when dealing with an extremely fussy baby. Knowing your limits will help protect you and your baby. When you find yourself feeling overly frustrated, lay baby in his crib and close the door. Take a few moments to calm down and remind yourself that this stage will not last forever. If necessary, call a friend, family member, or babysitter for respite.

Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems.

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