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Comfort for a Crying Baby

When your baby cries, she is letting you know something is wrong and she needs your help.

But when it's after midnight and you've been up for hours with a baby in tears, it doesn't matter what the cause is. You just want to comfort your little one.

Not everything is going to work for every baby all the time, but you may get some much-needed relief with these fuss-busters.

Sounds That Soothe

Just as loud noises can make your baby cry, soothing sounds may calm her. In the womb, she got used to hearing a heartbeat. Try out different background sounds, like a white noise machine, a recorded heartbeat, the shower, or household appliances like dishwashers or washing machines. If the sound really seems to work, record it so you can play it when your baby is upset.

Babies also respond to familiar voices. Sing your baby a gentle lullaby or quietly hum while you hold her, or as she lies on your chest.

Mellow Motion

Has your baby ever stopped crying after you picked her up and walked around? If so, you know that motion can be a fuss-buster.

Many crying babies find comfort in smooth, rhythmic movements, like being rocked in a rocking chair, hammock, or infant swing. Take yours for a walk in a stroller or for a car ride -- just be sure she's safely strapped into her rear-facing car seat.

Try out different types of motion to see what soothes your baby best. Don’t place her on top of a vibrating appliance, such as a dishwasher or dryer, because she could fall.

Contact That Comforts

Your baby may relax when she feels like she did in the womb. Swaddle her in a blanket, or gently pat her on the back in a pattern like a heartbeat. Lie down with her against your side, or keep her close to your body in an infant sling as you walk around. A warm bath may also help.

The 5 S's

Pediatrician Harvey Karp, MD, advises using the 5 S's -- a mix of fuss-busting techniques -- to comfort your teary infant. This method may help create a safe, womb-like feeling.

Try:

  1. Swaddling
  2. Side/stomach soothing -- lay baby on her side or stomach. Use this when your baby’s colicky, but don’t leave her unwatched. And never put her to sleep on her side or stomach -- always lay her on her back.
  3. "Shhhing" sounds
  4. Swinging
  5. Sucking (feed her, or give her a pacifier)

No matter which technique you try, remember that your baby is more likely to stop crying if you remain calm.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 27, 2015

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