Tricks to Soothe Your Crying Baby
- Holding your baby to your shoulder not only comforts her, but aids in helping her become observant. From this vantage point she can see what's going on around her and may become so involved in what she sees that she forgets to cry.
- Mothers—from those in art to real life flesh and blood ones—instinctively hold their babies on the left side, where the heart is. This is true regardless if the mother is left- or right-handed.
- Because a mother's heart beats at the same beats per minute as most music does, listening to music often soothes babies. Try classical; not only is it rarely jarring, research indicates that listening to this genre, as a baby will increase math skills later on.
- Certain sounds are able to soothe Baby without frightening him. Turning in the vacuum, dryer, air conditioner, or running bath water have all been reported to work. (Learn more about how white noise affects babies.)
- Is your baby attached to a particular blankie, toy, or other comfy object? The familiar feel and smell of transitional objects may relax Baby enough to eventually lull him into sleep.
- Visual stimuli can include watching the fish in a tank do its thing, winding up a favored mobile, or turning on one of those newly designed lamps that hypnotically swirl shapes over the wall. Try a variety, but only one at a time so Baby doesn't get over stimulated.
- This makes sense: Snuggly baby holders are perfect for baby bonding. A nice side benefit is that the more you hold Baby—even when he's not crying—the more likely she is not to cry so much or so frequently. (Read more about the surprising benefits of slings and carriers!)
Let's face it: Some babies are just harder to soothe than others. There will be some that cannot be settled down by any amount of soothing on your part. As hard as those incidents are for a parent to face, they are (usually) just passing events. (Check out these cry-stoppers, caught on video!)
How Do I Know It's Not Colic ... or Worse?
You don't until you check. Colic—which can cause hair pulling amongst even the most stoic parents as a reaction to the hours-long crying spells that accompany it—is not life threatening (though it can sound that way), nor is it an illness or a disease. Be observant. Is the crying intense and start around the same time each day? Is Baby's tummy bloated? Is she pulling her legs up to comfort herself? How long ago was she fed? Colic usually disappears by the age of four months. (Read more about the mystery of colic.)
Is your baby running a fever? Is she whining more than usual? Does she also have diarrhea or is she throwing up? These are all signs that a pediatrician should be consulted. (Read on for other indicators.)
Is this cry different than any of her other usual cries—more whining, more screaming, more out of breath or even holding her breath? (FYI, breath holding is not uncommon. Baby may even start to turn bluish. Toddler and preschoolers have been known to hold their breath so long while crying they pass out. Some pediatricians recommend blowing air or spraying water on your breath-holding child's face to get him to snap out of it—see one dad do it here). While it is incredibly frightening for the parent who has to witness it, it is not dangerous—when the child "passes out" he's forced to start breathing again.