When your baby is crying and you’re not sure why, take a few simple steps to figure out what might be going on:
1. Take a deep breath. Say a quick prayer asking the Lord to give you wisdom to figure out how to calm baby down.
2. Think about what just happened.
- Were you dressing your baby? Could a zipper have pulled some skin, or is a toe be bent in a sock? Check baby all over while talking quietly to him.
- Was baby in a new or busy place– maybe she was overwhelmed by new sights/smells/people. Take her to a quiet and dim place. Remove some of the stimulation to help calm her down.
- Did baby just eat? Maybe he has gas in his tummy and needs to burp. Put him up on your shoulder or lay him across your lap and pat or rub his back gently. Try giving him Mylicon gas drops.
- Could a loud noise have startled her? Hold her close to you and talk reassuringly to her.
3. Think about how long it’s been since baby slept. Babies are usually only awake for 1-3 hours at a time during the day before they are ready for a nap. Is your baby ready to lie down and rest? Take her into her room, dim the lights, swaddle her, and lay her down. If she isn’t calming down, try to rock her or hold her while walking for a few minutes. Sing to her. When she stops crying, try again to lay her down in her crib. Speak slowly and gently to her– tell her you know she’s tired and she’s ready for a nap.
4. Think about how long it’s been since baby ate. Is baby hungry? (Before you discount this thought since baby has been consistently eating on a “schedule”, remember that babies have growth spurts that cause them to be hungry more frequently than normal.) Usually if I go through all the things above and baby is still unhappy, I feed him, guessing that he must be hungry. Generally this calms him down, and sometimes he sucks for a few minutes and then drifts off– and I assume he must have just wanted a pacifier and a nap!
5. Think about what else could be going on. Could he be teething? Could she have a fever? Could she be constipated? Has his schedule been changed– out past bedtime, skipped bath, new caregiver, daylight savings time, etc?
Other Ways to Soothe your Baby:
- Figure out how baby likes to be held. Both my boys loved it when I cradled them close and held them tightly. Maybe your baby likes to be upright over your shoulder, or wants to face out and see what’s going on.
- Stand up and walk while holding your baby or sit down and rock your baby, sometimes movement helps to calm babies.
- Go for a drive with baby in her car seat. Most babies love the movement of the car.
- Swaddle your baby. Often the tightness of a swaddle feels comforting to them like the close quarters they exited from!
- Sing or making a comforting shhhhh shhhhh shhh sound.
- Offer a pacifier.
- Place baby in a swing or vibrating bouncer seat.
It can wear down even the most put-together mother if baby is constantly crying and nothing seems to help. If you feel like you’re losing control, put your baby in her crib and leave the room. Your baby will be OK crying for a few minutes in her bed while you gain control over yourself and your emotions. Call your husband or a friend to come and help you if you need to– there is no shame in asking for help when you need it!