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Crying is the way your baby lets you know something is wrong and she needs your help. But it isn't always easy to know what’s causing those tears. She could just be cranky. Or maybe she’s hungry. Or hot. Or cold. Sometimes, it’s hard to be sure.

Babies who cry more than 3 hours each day are said to have colic. Theories about what causes it range from tummy problems, to a response to light and sound, to the baby’s own nature.

But when it's after midnight and you've been up for hours with a crying baby, it doesn't matter what the cause is. The important thing is to comfort your little one. A number of home remedies and products can help. Nothing’s going to work for every baby all the time, but the following fuss-busters might provide much-needed relief.

Soothing Sounds

Just as loud noises can make your baby cry, soothing sounds may calm her. In the womb, she got used to the sound of your 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.

Gripe Water

Gripe water is a home remedy for colic that used to be made with dill, baking soda, and alcohol. Modern versions -- you can find them in drugstores -- don’t have alcohol, but may include herbs that settle the stomach or help relax cramping muscles, such as ginger, dill, and fennel. 

Although some small studies show that gripe water can help crying babies, these products aren’t regulated by the FDA. There’s also a small chance your infant could be allergic to one or more of the ingredients. Talk to your doctor before you try it.


Mellow Motion

Has your baby ever stopped crying after you picked her up and walked around? If so, you know the fuss-busting benefits of mellow motion.

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

The amount of motion that is soothing varies from child to child. So you may need to try a few things to see what works best. Don’t place your child on top of a vibrating appliance, such as a dishwasher or dryer, because she could fall.


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