Your new baby is such a blessing – after 9 long months you can finally hold your little miracle in your arms. You have pictures in your head of gently rocking your little one to sleep like you see in the movies.
You have gone through the checklist in your head – full belly, clean diaper, nap. Yet your baby is still unhappy and crying. Now you are Googling how to stop a baby from crying.
I am the mother of 4 children and I’ve been there and I was willing to try anything to stop my babies from crying (with safety in mind of course). My first child cried all the time for 4 months, it was exhausting and I felt like a failure as a mother when I was relieved to go back to work. Two of my children have cried more than the average child but not excessively. I had one baby that was pretty laid back and did not cry a whole lot. What I learned is every child is different.
I’m going to share what has been successful for my children and what has not.
First Focus on yourself
Seems counter intuitive, but babies can sense tension and frustration. When you are able to keep calm, it helps them stay calm too. Taking care of yourself is going to help you to take care of your baby.
- Take some deep breaths in and out. Focus on your breath filling your lungs and then expelling all the air from your lungs. When we get tense, we stop breathing fully, which makes us more tense.
- Takes turns with the baby – crying can be very frustrating. Taking turns lets you come back with a fresh outlook whether its Dad, a relative, or a friend.
- If your baby has been crying for a while and you are really getting frustrated, its okay to walk away for a few minutes. Lay your baby safely in the crib and go where you can’t hear the crying – short shower always worked well for me. I’m not advocating leaving the house, just getting a break from hearing the crying.
- Get support from family and friends – accept help with household chores, other children and meals.
- Sleep when you are able. Sleep deprivation is inevitable. With your first child this is much easier to sleep when the baby sleeps. If you have other children, this does not work out as well. My advice is to take a nap when the older child takes a nap or if someone is able to watch the kids for you. You should also go to bed when your kids go to bed. I’ve gone to bed at 7pm – you need to get as much sleep as you can.
What worked for me
You want to mimic the environment your baby experienced in the womb as much as possible. It is all they knew for 9 months.
- White noise – this was a game changer with all of my babies. For us, the gentle lullabies and soft music did not hack it. Babies are used to all the noise in our bodies – the loud noise was all they knew and it is soothing. We use a sound machine and in the beginning I turn it all the way up. My kids liked the white noise the best, my older kids like the ocean sound.
- Hair dryer – Sounds silly but this works amazingly well. Our hair dryer has three heat settings – I put it on the cool setting so the hair dryer does not get hot. Sometimes the baby will calm down on the low setting, sometimes I need to put it on high to calm the baby. It is like a wave of calmness washes over my kids when I put it on. It worked 90% of the time on my kids to stop crying. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with similar results.
- Swaddle blankets – by the end of your pregnancy your baby has little room to move and is swaddled tight. Babies uncontrollably move their arms and often startle and wake themselves. The nurses at the hospital make it look so easy – but my babies usually worked their way out of the swaddle. I used these SwaddleMe blankets, they are a real life saver! Instead of having to wrap the blanket just right – you fold over and attach Velcro. I used these with every one of my babies and regularly give them as baby shower gifts.
What worked to calm a crying baby
Sleep – consider if your baby is overtired, in this case it makes it hard for your baby to fall asleep. Work to get your baby to sleep at the first cue of tiredness (yawn). An overtired baby can cry a lot.
- Pacifiers – sucking naturally calms babies. There are so many to choose from, I have found my fussy babies have one brand they like best. Because of breastfeeding it is recommended to not use a pacifier until breastfeeding has been successfully established. In this case we used these pacifiers. Some babies need a little help on learning to keep a pacifier in – gently push down on the pacifier while they are sucking and they will instinctively suck it back in and in time learn to keep it in.
Happiest Baby on the Block – I have the DVD and often lend it out to friends who are new parents. There is also a book, I personally found the DVD more helpful since I am a visual learner. It teaches you about the 5 S’s (swing, suck, swaddle, side, and shhh). And talks a lot about mimicking the environment in the womb as well as explains that the first three months after your baby is born are like the 4th trimester. If you have a baby that cries a lot this is going to help you a lot – I would highly recommend it.
Movement – Some of my kids liked the swing, others liked vibration. You have to find what works for your baby.
- If your going to get a swing, get one that can plug into an outlet. I know from personal experience – you will go through D batteries every few days and they add up to lots of $$ quickly. I recommend a cradle swing that has a plug so no batteries are needed (but you can use them if you are away from an outlet), it gently cradles your baby, you can swing your baby back to front or side to side, it has multiple speed settings and my kids would smile that the mirror all the time. Plus it’s super cute!
- If your baby likes the vibration, a Rock N Play is a great solution. They did not have these back in 2008 when I had my first baby (of course the one that cried the most), but it is a great invention. They rock (you have to manually do it), vibrate, and gently cradle your baby. It folds up and is super lightweight and easy to move. This is another item I’d highly recommend.
- Car ride – many kids fall asleep in the car, my kids all screamed for the first several months while in the car. It is worth a try to take a short car ride and see if it puts your baby to sleep.
Baby wearing – Carrying your baby in a baby carrier is a great solution to calm a crying baby, help them sleep longer, and promote bonding with your baby. My favorite baby carrier for a newborn and small infants is the Moby Baby Wrap – there are so many different holds you can do with one piece of fabric. Not all baby carries are not all created equally: you need to consider your babies comfort, your comfort, and safety. Here are a few tips to safety wear your baby:
- You should only carry your baby on a front hold (baby facing your chest) for the first year or so. It can cause problems with the babies hips.
- Make sure your baby does not have their faced pushed against your chest or the Moby fabric. They should always have good breathing room.
- Follow all manufacturers directions on properly using the baby carrier.
Snuggling – Sometimes your baby just wants to be held and snuggled. Enjoy this time – they are only little once.
Changes to your diet – I was not able to eat dairy while breastfeeding – it caused stomach distress in all of my kids. Give it a try for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference, it can take a while for it to get out of your system. Also avoid gassy foods such as broccoli. If you are using formula try different brands, milk based, soy based etc. Nutramigen is a formula designed for fussy kids and has worked very well for a few of my friends and my Mom used it on me as a baby. The downside is it is very expensive.
Get out the gas and pressure on the babies tummy – What worked best to get out gas was to gently squish their knees into their tummy. I would do one foot at a time, or both knees to the tummy. You will know if your baby has gas in just a few minutes. If your baby is very rigid while doing this – keep going. That often means they do have gas. As you expel the gas, they will relax. If your baby has tummy pain or discomfort, you will see relief from crying by laying them on their stomach, I typically put my hand on the tummy.
Change of scenery – Change your babies diaper even if they don’t need to be changed quiet yet, walk into different rooms, talk to your baby. Often a diaper change can help calm down a crying baby.
What didn’t work
- The Swaddle Band – it had great reviews on Amazon. I needed something to swaddle my baby in the swing. Unfortunately I tried all their suggestions for Houdini babies but my baby always got out of it. They have a money back guarantee on Amazon – I can vouch for it since I unfortunately had to use it.
- Gas drops – in my opinion these are a waste of money. See above on how to get the gas out.
- Different types of motion – Each baby is different and the motion the like will be different. Some like the car, or swing, or vibration. Keep trying until you find what your baby likes.
- Missing naps – make sure your baby sleeps when you see sleep cues. An overtired baby is much harder to get to sleep.
- Sometimes one thing will work better than another. One thing is not going to work 100% of the time.
It won’t last forever
By about 3-4 months, your baby will cry much less, be smiling and giggling. Take it one day at a time – a crying baby takes a lot of patience. I hope these tips will help both you and your baby – please let me know what worked for your. I’d love to hear from you.