How to Soothe a Crying Baby

When your baby cries, they are letting you know something is wrong and they need 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 them. In the womb, they 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 them, or as they lie on your chest.

Mellow Motion

Has your baby ever stopped crying after you picked them 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 they are safely strapped into their rear-facing car seat.

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

Contact That Comforts

Your baby may relax when they feel like they did in the womb. Swaddle them in a blanket, or gently pat them on the back in a pattern like a heartbeat. Lie down with them against your side, or keep them 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 their side or stomach. Use this when your baby’s colicky, but don’t leave them unwatched. And never put them to sleep on their side or stomach -- always lay them on their back.
  3. "Shhhing" sounds
  4. Swinging
  5. Sucking (feed them, or give hem 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 19, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Bright Futures: "How to Soothe a Crying Baby."

Familydoctor.org: "Colic."

Zero to Three: "Self-control."

American Academy of Pediatrics, PPT resource by Kathi Kemper, MD: "Herbs and Supplements for GI Disorders."

March of Dimes: "Soothing your baby when she cries."

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Get Pregnancy & Parenting Tips In Your Inbox

Doctor-approved information to keep you and your family healthy and happy.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.