Do you have an upset baby in the house? Learn 9 ways to soothe a crying baby- plus 4 more especially for newborns- from a mother of 6!
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but babies cry. A lot.
Sure some are pretty mellow and some cry all day long, but as a parent, it’s pretty much a guarantee that sometime in the first 12 months of life, you will have a crying, seemingly inconsolable baby on your hands.
Why? Well babies cry for just about any reason. Because they are:
- Tired (or overtired)
- Something hurts
- They are nervous
- In need of a diaper change
Or for no reason, whatsoever. (We all just need to cry sometimes, right?!)
So how do you soothe a crying baby?
In the course of raising 6 babies, I learned one thing. All babies are different and what works for one, doesn’t work for all. That said, here are 9 ways to soothe a crying baby- plus a few more that are specific for newborns.
9 Ways to Soothe a Crying Baby- Fast!
Now, this goes without saying, but before you try to soothe your baby with any of the suggestions below, be sure to take care of the immediate needs first.
Change them. Feed them. Burp them. Etc.
And if that doesn’t take care of the problem, try some of these ideas for soothing and stopping the crying.
Turn Up the Music
When my daughter was a baby, we always played music when she was napping. With 4 older brothers in the house, it just sort of muted the noise a little bit. She latched on to Taylor Swift in particular. She’d fall asleep to her CD as a newborn and young baby, but as she got older we’d be driving in the car and she’d be screaming her head off…then Taylor Swift’s Mean would come on the radio and she’d stop. Completely.
Then the song would end, and she’d pick right back up with the tears.
Music is a great way to calm and soothe a baby that’s crying. It gives them something to listen to and stimulate their brains and redirect their attention.
Music is great in conjunction with other methods, such as walking or dancing. Singing can be just as effective, since babies will love watching you sing to them as well!
Vacuum the Room
My house was never as clean as when I had a colicky newborn (who turned into a clingy, not-so-happy, baby too).
Vacuuming provides white noise, which can help block out all the other noises of the world. It’s particularly helpful for overstimulated babies and overtired babies.
You can wear or carry a baby while vacuuming or place them in a swing or bouncy seat while while you vacuum around them. Either way, it gives them something visual and auditory to focus, without overwhelming them, which in turn helps them calm down and stop crying.
Bounce, Bounce, Bounce
My 5th and 6th babies were my bouncers. It was one of the most reliable ways to get them to calm down and stop crying.
There are tons of ways to bounce…
- An exercise ball (this was my favorite!)
- A bouncy seat– great if you want to get a baby to sleep or need to do something with your hands. I got pretty good at bouncing to a steady rhythm with my feet or one foot while I made dinner.
- Bounce yourself– get those legs moving and just bounce!
The up and down steady motion is very soothing and helps calm a baby and help them stop crying.
Swinging is fun at all ages! And it’s great to help soothe a crying baby and maybe even put them to sleep.
This method is great for overtired or over-stimulated babies.
With young babies and newborns, you can get indoor swings (it’s what many of my kids napped in for the first few months of life). But even older babies, who can sit up on their own can be calmed by swinging.
Get baby swing and hang it from a tree branch or build a swing set frame. If your baby is upset, head outside and swing! The change of scenery and the movement will calm them in not time!
Even swinging in a regular swing with the baby on your lap or in a carrier can work!
Turn on the Shower
Another great white noise option is the shower.
Babies can be held in the bathroom with the shower running, or placed in a bouncy seat in the bathroom. The combination of the noise and the steam is very soothing.
This can be a great way to soothe a baby that’s crying because of congestion due to cold or allergies.
Bonus- mom or dad can get a shower in at the same time!
It might seem like a waste of water, but if you don’t have any other options for white noise, you need a shower anyway, or you are just at the end of your rope, this is an option.
Use a White Noise Machine
While the vacuum and shower are great options for white noise, you can’t really shower or vacuum for more than maybe 30 minutes, so if you need a white noise for longer than this, you might need a white noise machine.
My second son was my first experience with colic and static was my best friend. He cried every single night starting at 5pm until I finally got him to bed (usually at 8-9pm).
This was really tough on me, and his 2 year old brother, who not only had to hear the crying but also have a frazzled mom who couldn’t do anything but hold a crying baby. Then one day we discovered if we turned the baby monitor onto the wrong channel, it played very loud static. And that static was a life saver.
Newer models of baby monitors may not have the same affect, but you can buy a White Noise Machine that produces static or other calming noise.
Another option is to use your Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, or Pandora apps and find a White Noise or Nature Sounds channel. This is what we used for my 6th son. He loved the rain/water noise station!
Take a Walk
Moving is a great way to calm and stop crying. This includes things like dancing or walking.
Better yet, grab the baby carrier or stroller and get outside for a walk. The change of scenery and the movement will stop the tears in no time.
Sometimes babies just get bored and they need more stimulation or different stimulation then they have been seeing.
Taking a walk is great for YOUR mental health as well and is a great way to get your own frustrations out.
So take a walk around your neighborhood, your apartment complex, up and down your driveway, or head to the greenway. Just get out and get moving!
Get in the Car
This tip can go either way. I know some babies who hate the car and will start screaming the second they are strapped into the car seat. So if that’s your baby- skip this one.
BUT, many babies love the car. The gentle movement is calming and they get some visual stimulation from the windows as well (even when they are rear facing).
Rolling the windows down can help too- as long as they don’t get too wind blown!
I’ve even had to jump in the car and take a drive at night to help calm down a congested baby who couldn’t sleep but desperately needed to!
Turn on the TV
For me this is a last resort. I don’t think screen time is appropriate for babies or even young toddlers, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Back my my colicky second born, who cried from 5-9 every single night…..One day a friend gave me a Baby Einstein Video. I believe it was Baby Van Gogh. After weeks of crying, I’d try ANYTHING.
So I put my 7 week baby in his bouncy seat in front of the TV and turned on the video. And you know what? He stopped crying.
For 30 whole minutes. Long enough to read with his brother. Eat dinner in peace. And regain my sanity.
The video ended, and he started right back up. But I used that video every day until I didn’t need it anymore and I am so thankful for it.
So while TV isn’t the best option, it is an option.
4 More Ways to Soothe a Crying Newborn
While most of the above tips will work for both newborns AND older babies, here are 4 more ways to help soothe a baby that are specific to newborns. Most of them with also help your newborn fall asleep as well!
Newborn babies have spent the last 9 months in very tight quarters. Then all of a sudden they are here in the this big bright world, with arms and legs they can barely control. And reflexes that make them feel like they are falling.
Swaddling is a great way to soothe an overstimulated newborn. By tightly wrapping them, they feel more secure, like they did in the womb.
Wrapping their arms in helps to reduce the startle reflex which can start a bout of crying all over again.
Sucking is very soothing for babies. There are basically 3 options when it comes to sucking for babies:
Many of my kids nursed for extended periods in the evening. I’m talking over an hour at a time. It wasn’t because they were starving, it was because they needed the comfort.
While many older babies are also calmed by sucking, it is usually a learned self-soothing technique from the newborn period.
A sling or wrap can be a new parents best friend. Your newborn gets to be nestled next to you and you still get both of your hands.
Carriers are great for helping your newborn feel safe and secure and close to you. So close he can hear your heart beat. It’s about as close to recreating a womb as you can get.
There are a ton of options when it comes to choosing a baby carrier- just make sure you find one that is able to be used with a newborn safely.
Try the Colic Hold
I have had 2 colicky babies. And it’s not fun. My last baby was not only colicky, but very gassy and you could just tell he was uncomfortable a lot of the time.
Some colicky, gassy babies get relief when pressure is applied to their bellies (along with the soothing nature of being held close.)
To do the colic hold, place your baby face-down, with his belly on your arm and legs on either side of your arm, then pat or rub the back.
You can also place the baby face-down on your lap or even hold him up on your shoulder and pat- like you would if you were burping him.
This can help relieve pressure in the belly and help calm him down.
And finally, remember that sometimes babies just cry. There’s no reason. Nothing is wrong. They just need to cry. So hold them close, and let them cry.
And if you ever find yourself overwhelmed with a crying baby, remember that it won’t hurt them. And that it’s okay for you to put them down in their crib and walk away for a few moments.