Has a wailing baby ever made you want to cry too? You’re not alone! Even experienced parents struggle to comfort a crying child sometimes. Join me on an epic quest to uncover the secrets of soothing a fussy infant. This knowledge could one day save the sanity of everyone nearby!
Setting the Stage: Why Do Babies Cry So Much Anyway?
Let’s start by getting into the tiny head of a newborn. Babies cry for all sorts of reasons – hunger, pain, boredom, too hot, too cold, uncomfortable, startled…the list goes on! They rely on crying to communicate since they can’t talk yet. But sometimes they just cry for no apparent reason at all, leaving parents scratching their heads.
The first three months are often called the “fourth trimester.” Babies are getting used to the outside world after 9 cozy months in the womb. Their nervous systems are still developing so they get overwhelmed easily. Patience and experimenting with different soothing techniques are key during this stage.
Soothe with the 5 S’s: The Magic of Swaddling, Side/Stomach Position, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking
Pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp discovered 5 methods that imitate conditions in the womb and often calm fussy newborns. He calls them the “5 S’s”: swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Let’s explore each magical “S!”
Swaddling Wraps Babies in Warm, Snug Comfort
Swaddling involves wrapping a light blanket snugly around a baby’s body with their arms tucked in. This helps them feel secure like they did in the womb. Make sure to leave their head uncovered to prevent overheating. Many fussy babies instantly relax when swaddled!
Side/Stomach Positioning Takes Pressure Off Tiny Tummies
Have you ever had a stomachache after a big meal? Same goes for little babies! Laying them on their side or stomach can help relieve discomfort from gas, acid reflux or general tummy troubles. This position mimics how they were curled up in the womb.
Shushing Imitates Soothing Sounds Heard In Utero
A common trick is to make “shhh” sounds near a baby’s ear to recreate the whooshing noises of blood flow they heard inside the womb. You can try different shushing volumes and tempos to see what works best. Pro tip: white noise from sound machines can imitate those calming in-utero noises too.
Swinging and Swaying Simulates the Motion of Mom Walking
Ever notice how going for a walk or drive often soothes a fussy infant? Gentle swinging motions remind babies of how they used to be rocked inside the womb as mom moved. Try holding them close and walking around, gently swaying, or rocking in a chair.
Sucking Brings Comfort, Especially for Hungry Babies
Sucking is related to feeding and brings babies comfort. Letting them breastfeed or giving them a pacifier activates this soothing reflex. Combining it with swaddling, shushing or rocking can be extra calming. Sucking also satisfies hunger – a common reason for crying.
Digging Deeper: Additional Tricks for Stopping Crying
Once you’ve tried the 5 S’s, don’t be afraid to get creative! Here are a few more unconventional (but parent-approved) ways to soothe crying babies:
Sing Sweet Lullabies
You might feel silly at first, but melodic tunes can work wonders, especially when sung gently near baby’s ear. Bonus points if you make up silly songs about how cute they are.
Give Baby a Warm Bath
Nothing feels more relaxing than a warm bath after a stressful day! Draw a shallow, cozy bath and see if water therapy does the trick. Keep them snuggly wrapped in a hooded towel afterwards.
Bundle Up and Get Some Fresh Air
Being outside in the fresh air – rain or shine – instantly improves most cranky moods. Secure baby in a front carrier or stroller with the sun shade down and take them for a short walk or just sit outside together.
Turn on Some Tunes and Have a Dance Party
Upbeat music and dancing are surefire ways to lift the mood! Hold baby close and boogie around together. Laughter-inducing mom and dad dance moves are especially encouraged.
Give Baby a Massage
Human touch is soothing. Gently massaging baby’s tummy, legs, arms, back and head releases feel-good hormones for both baby and massage giver! A little organic coconut oil helps hands glide.
Go for a Car Ride
The gentle rumble of the car engine, shifting scenery out the window, and being close to a parent in the backseat can relax upset little ones. Make sure baby is securely buckled into a rear-facing car seat.
For babies that crave closeness, keeping them snuggled in a sling or baby carrier allows you to stay hands-free while keeping them comforted. The cozy feeling and sound of your heartbeat are like being back in the womb!
When to Call the Doctor About Crying
Crying is normal, but call the pediatrician if:
- Baby is under 3 months and cries more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week.
- Crying seems like it’s due to pain.
- Baby has a fever over 100.4°F (38°C).
- Baby is listless or lethargic.
- Baby is vomiting or has diarrhea.
- Crying comes with labored breathing or turning blue around the mouth.
- You suspect an injury from a fall or accident.
Better safe than sorry! Speak up if your gut says something may be wrong.
Troubleshooting Common Concerns with Soothing Techniques
Calming a crying baby can feel tricky at first. Check out some common concerns and how to troubleshoot:
Q: What if baby won’t stay swaddled?
A: Use a velcro swaddle blanket that they can’t wiggle out of. Swaddle snugly, but not too tight. Leave their hips loose so legs can bend.
Q: Baby cries more when I lay them on their side/stomach – now what?
A: Try laying them at an incline on your lap, chest down across forearms, or propped up angled on a pillow. Never leave them unattended.
Q: I’ve tried all the shushing tricks but nothing works. Help!
A: Take a breath, mamas and papas. Check for signs of hunger or pain first. Try shushing combined with light jiggling and swaying. Have patience – you’ll find the right technique.
Q: Swinging and rocking make it worse. What else can I try?
A: If motion makes them mad, keep still and use other calming techniques like swaddling or white noise. Or for upright soothing, wear baby in a carrier and gently bounce in place.
Q: When should I give a pacifier?
A: Offer a pacifier once breastfeeding is well established, usually around 3-4 weeks old. This prevents “nipple confusion.” Never force it – wait until baby wants to suck, then gently place it in their mouth.
Parting Wisdom: Stay Calm and Soothe On
With a mixed bag of tricks up your sleeve, you now have superhero-level crying soothing skills! But remember, despite your best efforts, sometimes babies just need to cry it out. Stay patient and loving. Check for signs of hunger/pain and cuddle them close. This too shall pass! With your new knowledge, you can confidently calm many cries and save precious sanity. Now go forth, stay cool, and soothe on!