Babies cry a lot. It is nature’s way of ensuring that the needs of little humans, who are incapable of fending for themselves or even so much as expressing their thoughts, are met. As a new parent, sounds of a wailing baby cannot only be unsettling but also leave you at your wit’s ends about ways to soothe them. This guide on how to calm a crying baby will see you through many such episodes that await you:
For babies, crying is a way to communicate their needs, so the first step is to identify what that need is. Eventually, you’ll be able to associate different crying sounds with different needs of your baby. However, in the initial days, eliminating the probable reasons to arrive at the underlying cause is the best approach to calm a crying baby. Your baby could be crying for the following reasons:
• They are hungry
• They need a diaper change
• They are too hot or too cold
• They are tired or over-stimulated by their surroundings
• Anxiety or fear triggered by a change in their environment
• Colic pains or reflux
So, the first step is to see which of these needs has to be met at the given moment. If your baby has gone without a feed for close to two hours, you could try feeding them. If not, check their diaper, change them in a more comfortable set of clothes, or try getting them to burp.
If none of these seems to be the cause, you could try the following tricks to calm your crying baby.
Swaddling gives your baby a sense of security by recreating that snug, warm feeling of being in the mother’s womb. Place your baby’s arms close to their chest and wrap them tightly in a soft blanket. You can also hold them in your arms while wrapped to soothe them down. It is a time-tested trick to calm a crying baby and one that’ll stand you in good stead for the first few months of parenting.
After swaddling your baby, either make them lie down on their side or carry them in your arms in a football hold – that is, clutching the baby with one arm with your hand supporting the head and their legs tucked under your armpit. This recreates the foetal position your baby was used to before birth and makes them more secure. If your baby is crying because they are anxious or over-stimulated, this will help calm them down.
Another sure-fire trick to calm a crying baby is to surround them with soft, soothing sounds. You can play soft music, sing a lullaby, or just make the ‘shhhh’ sound – which, to a newborn, sounds very similar to the whooshing sounds they were surrounded by in your womb. There are several white noise phone apps and recorded tracks that you can use here instead of shushing yourself. Just make sure that the sound is loud enough for your crying baby to hear.
Fast-paced, rhythmic movements such as swinging or rocking mimic the bouncy feeling your baby experienced inside the womb, and that’s why it works like a charm in calming a crying baby. You can either swing your baby by holding them in your arms or place them securely in a baby rocker or cradle and let it do the job for you.
Sometimes, babies refuse to calm down no matter what you do. Even though such instances are few and far in between, these can leave you feeling exasperated and frustrated. In such moments, don’t hesitate in asking your partner, parents, friends, or any other caregiver to take over until you have calmed yourself down and are ready to focus on your baby’s needs once again.
As your baby grows, these frequent episodes of crying will be replaced by those endearing cooing sounds. Until then, make use of these tips to help you calm your crying baby.