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Soothing Your Crying Baby

Your Crying Baby: Meet Her Basic Needs

If you haven't yet learned to distinguish among your baby's different cries, just start with the basics, says Sherry Iverson, Director of Women's and Children's Community Education at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.

  • Feed the baby
  • Burp the baby
  • Change the diaper
  • Make sure clothing isn't too tight

Make sure baby isn't too hot, or too cold. Of course, there are plenty of times when you can't tell if your baby's crying is directly related to a fixable situation such as hunger or a dirty diaper, or just expresses a longing to be held. If you're not sure, take a deep breath and try some of the following cry-stoppers, says Pantley:

Hold your baby. No matter the reason for your baby's cry, being held by a warm and comforting person offers a feeling of security and may calm his crying. Babies love to be held in arms, slings, front-pack carriers, and (when they get a little older) backpacks; physical contact is what they seek and what usually soothes them best.

If you're worried that you'll "spoil" your baby by picking him up to stop his crying, don't let this thought deter you. "This is simply not the case. Babies are just telling their parents what they need," Rosen says, observing that infants, especially newborns, thrive on close physical contact. "You cannot "spoil" a baby by holding it," says Rosen. "The baby has been used to being very close to you for 9 months, and it takes time for him to get used to the idea of separating."

Breastfeed your crying baby. Nursing your baby is as much for comfort as food. Breastfeeding is an important and powerful tool for baby soothing.

Swaddle your baby. During the first three or four months of life, many babies feel comforted if you can re-create the tightly contained sensation they enjoyed in the womb.

Get your crying baby moving . Babies enjoy repetitive, rhythmic motion such as rocking, swinging, swaying, jiggling, dancing, or a ride in the car. Many parents instinctually begin to sway with a fussy baby, and for a good reason: It works.

Use white noise. The womb was a very noisy place. Not so long ago, your baby heard that noise 24 hours a day. Sometimes your baby can be calmed by "white noise" -- that is, noise that is continuous and uniform, such as that of a heartbeat, the rain, static between radio stations, and your vacuum cleaner. Some alarm clocks even have a white noise function.

Let your crying baby have something to suck on. The most natural pacifier is mother's breast, but when that isn't an option, a bottle, pacifier, baby's own fingers, a teething toy, or Daddy's pinkie can work wonders as a means of comfort.

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