How To Calm And Soothe Your Fussy Baby
When your little one is distraught, it can be distressing to you as well. Not to mention that it’s often hard to know exactly why a fussy baby is upset! If you’re at a loss for how to calm your baby, we’d like to help.
While there’s no magic formula for soothing a fussy little one, we’ll give you our favorite tips. Calming your baby might simply be a matter of finding what works for them!
But first, let’s go over the basics of why your baby might be cranky.
Why Your Baby Is Fussy
Babies express themselves by crying and fussing. If your little one is upset, make sure all their basic needs are taken care of.
- Is your baby hungry?
- Are they hot or cold?
- Do they need to sleep? (Read about the differences between overtired and undertired here.)
- Do they need to be burped?
- Is their diaper wet or dirty?
- Do they show symptoms of being sick?
If none of the above seems to be the problem, there are a few other possible reasons for a fussy baby.
For example, a case of gas can make your baby uncomfortable enough to fuss. Or they might be overstimulated or scared — remember this world is a big change from the cozy womb! On the other hand, your little one might be bored.
And, of course, sometimes babies cry for what seems to be no reason at all! This brings us to colic.
What is colic? That’s a good question. Experts don’t actually know what causes the crying of colic. It is simply described as a baby that cries a lot for unknown reasons.
Nationwide Children’s describes colic as “an excessive amount of crying that occurs for more than 3 hours every day, most often during the evening.”
It typically happens in younger infants. Katie Imborek, MD and Dayna Miller, MD from University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital say the following:
“Colic starts at week two, peaks around week six and usually ends by three months. The most widely accepted definition for colic is a baby crying or three hours per day for three days per week for three weeks in a row.”
If your baby seems to be colicky, it’s best to talk to your pediatrician to rule out any other potential causes.
All of that being said, sometimes (it might feel like a lot of the time!) your baby will be fussy and all you can do is cuddle and calm them as best as you can. That’s when you’ll need all the tricks in the book!
So, here is a list of things you can try to soothe your fussy baby.
Tips To Calm And Soothe Your Fussy Baby
Swaddle Your Baby
Swaddling a newborn can be quite comforting to them. Plus, it calms their startle reflex so they are less likely to startle themselves awake.
If you’re not sure how to wrap your baby like a cute burrito, read our article How To Swaddle Your Baby and make sure you have Newton Baby Organic Swaddle Blankets on hand.
The breathable cotton keeps your baby safe and comfy, and it’s hypoallergenic!
Keep this in mind: it’s recommended that you stop putting your baby to sleep in a swaddle when they are around two months or, at the latest, by the time your baby begins trying to roll over.
Rock Your Baby On Their Side Or Stomach
Take your rocking game to the next level by rocking your baby on their side or stomach. Why?
Katie Imborek, MD and Dayna Miller, MD comment that:
“There may also be some additional calming that occurs when there is pressure against the baby’s tummy. There are a number of ways to do this, including holding the baby in similar positions as if the baby was being breastfed or putting the baby up to your shoulder.”
However, remember that your baby should never be put to sleep on their stomach or side. Sleep safety guidelines call for your baby to be put to sleep on their back for both nap time and night time.
Even though a baby should never be placed to sleep on their stomach or side, many babies end up rolling over on their own in the middle of the night. This is OK! There’s no need to flip them over as long as they’re on a breathable crib mattress.
Read more about baby sleep safety here.
Stand And Bounce
Movement can be soothing for your baby. While holding your little one, try standing and bouncing (by bending your knees) or swaying side to side.
Put Your Baby In A Sling
Putting your baby in a sling is an easy way to hold them close and provide them with constant movement while you go about your business around the house. And, your hands will be free!
Sing Or Turn On Music
Music (and maybe a little dancing!) can be a good distraction for your fussy baby. Play some tunes on your phone or provide the music yourself by singing or humming. They may love to hear your voice!
Give Your Baby A Massage
Getting a massage is relaxing for us adults, right? It can be for your little one, too. Grab some baby oil and learn how to give your fussy baby a massage.
Or, try stroking their head all the way from their forehead to the back of the head. Something as simple as that may calm them down.
Rubbing their chest or tummy can also help your baby relax.
A change of scenery can work wonders!
Take your baby outside to distract them and help them get their mind off of whatever made them cry in the first place. A breath of fresh air might help you calm down as well.
Another tip: combine movement and fresh air by putting your baby in the stroller and taking a walk.
Put Your Baby In The Bath
If your baby hates bath time, skip over this idea. But if they enjoy splashing in the water, consider plunking them in the bathtub to soothe them.
Use A White Noise Machine
Using a white noise machine in the nursery while your baby snoozes is a good way to drown out household noise and help your baby sleep through the night.
But white noise (this could be a machine or simply you shh-ing) can help to calm a fussy baby even if it’s not nap time. Your baby’s time inside the womb was not as quiet as you might think, so noise can be comforting to them.
Offer A Pacifier
With babies constantly turning to a pacifier or their thumb, it’s not hard to see that sucking is a self-calming mechanism for little ones. So, when yours has worked themselves up, try offering a pacifier to soothe them.
Also, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, putting your baby to sleep with a pacifier is part of safe sleep practices. That means you can confidently put your baby to bed with a pacifier!
But, if it falls out, there’s no need to go back into their room to put it back in their mouth.
Take A Break
To calm a fussy baby, you have to be calm and level-headed yourself. But, from one parent to another, we know just how hard it can be to keep your cool when your baby is crying.
That’s why it’s so important to take a break if you feel yourself getting worked up. Hand your little one off to your partner or another trusted adult but, if no one is around, rest assured that you can still take a moment for yourself.
First, put your baby in a safe place such as their crib. Leaving your little one there while you take 10 will keep them from rolling or crawling and getting into mischief while you aren’t supervising.
When it comes to crib safety in general, know that the safest way for your baby to snooze is on a breathable mattress (like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress) in a bare crib — no pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, or stuffed animals.
Once your baby is safe and sound, take 10 or 15 minutes to relax and take a deep breath. Listen to music, do a few yoga poses, lay on the couch, or sip some tea. Then go back to comfort and care for your little one.
Wear Earplugs Or Headphones
Wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. This tip doesn’t exactly have to do with how to soothe your baby, but it can certainly help you out while you comfort your little one.
A baby’s cry can be ear-piercing. If fussiness turns into an extended period of crying, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can go a long way in helping you stay calm, cool, and collected.
Talk To Your Doctor
There’s no doubt that at some point or another you’ll deal with a fussy baby. However, if you think your little one’s fussiness is unusual, it’s best to consult your pediatrician.
Keep track of when your baby fusses and cries as well as when they are awake, sleeping, and eating. This information can help you and your pediatrician identify a pattern or cause of your baby’s crankiness.
Hush, Little One
Making your little one feel safe and comforted is one of your main jobs as a parent. And it is a great privilege!
When you have a fussy baby on your hands, make sure all of their basic needs are taken care of, then turn to the tips we listed above to soothe them — and stay calm, cool, and collected yourself.
Between wrapping your little one in a Newton Baby Organic Swaddle Blanket, rocking them on their side, giving them a massage, heading outside, and using white noise, you’re sure to find something that works for your sweet baby!