Learn how to calm a crying baby fast!

How to Calm a Crying Baby: 23 Easy Solutions and Natural Remedies for Crying Babies

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Do you want to know how to calm a crying baby?

Answer… find out what’s bothering them… easy, right?

Well… not so easy!

Since babies can’t tell us what’s wrong.

Instead… they cry.

Are you having trouble figuring out why your baby is crying? A postpartum doula shares some of the most common reasons why babies and newborns cry and offers solutions for new parents to try. This troubleshooting post will help you understand your baby better and learn some ways to comfort your crying baby fast! #cryingbaby, #fussybaby, #remediesforbaby, #baby

 

Why is My Baby Crying?

The purpose of this post is to help you figure out why your baby is crying and to introduce you to some practical solutions and natural remedies for how to calm a crying baby!

Every baby has moments when they are fussy.

It is one of the most frustrating things about being a new parent.

We wish they could talk and tell us what’s wrong, but we are left to figure it out on our own.

When your baby is crying, she is trying to tell you something.

It may take a while for you to figure out your baby’s language, but be patient. You will!

Here is a troubleshooting guide to help new parents understand their baby’s cries.

how to calm a crying baby

How to Calm a Crying Baby: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents

Okay, there are several reasons why your baby might be crying.

It is also quite possible that your baby is crying for more than one reason, so keep that in mind too.

Let’s get started…

The 5 to 9 Whine

Have you noticed that your baby seems particularly fussy during the evening hours?

This is not only true with newborns, but with older babies and toddlers as well.

In fact, isn’t it true that we are all fussier in the evening? And why not?

After a full day aren’t we tired, hungry and overstimulated?

This will happen to your baby and it is perfectly normal… so much so that we often refer to this time as “the witching hour”.

I like to call it the “5 to 9 Whine.”

This evening fussy period for babies is so common that I have written a more detailed post on the subject. You can read that post here. 

Planning ahead to have dinner ready early, and doing what you can to make the house quiet and dark, will go a long way to reduce stress and stimulation for baby and all.

Prioritize YOUR Sleep!

It is also helpful if you prioritize your own sleep so you have more energy to deal with a cranky baby.

Check out my new eBook called, 30 Sleep Hacks for New Parents: A Sleep Survival Guide for Parents of Newborns. 

I have included all my best doula tips and tricks to help you maximize your sleep during the postpartum period. Download your copy here! 

Learn how to calm a crying baby with these 21 easy solutions and natural remedies!

Is Your Baby Hungry?

This is the #1 reason that babies cry.

But, by the time they start really crying, it is sometimes very hard to settle them down to actually eat.

Some babies get so worked up, that it takes a while to calm them down.

That is why it is helpful to learn your baby’s early feeding cues so they don’t ever become inconsolable.

When babies get really worked up, their bodies start to produce stress hormones, making it much more difficult to calm them down.

Definitely try to catch their early feeding cues before this happens!

Learn Early Feeding Cues

So, what are early feeding cues?  They are the early messages that babies send their parents when they are waking to eat.

Some of these early cues include:

  • movement during sleep
  • stretching
  • rapid eye movement
  • fist sucking
  • smacking his lips
  • turning his head
  • shaking his head from side-to-side
  • “baby bird impersonations” with his mouth!
  • Even light sleep is an early feeding cue!

Many parents miss these early signs that their baby may be hungry, especially during the evening hours.

They look at the clock and assume it’s too early for them to be hungry since it hasn’t been that long since the last feeding.

This is a mistake.

Watch your baby… NOT the clock!

Cluster Feeding

Because babies tend to “cluster feed” in the evening hours, it can sometimes feel like they want to eat non-stop! Yup. Because it’s true!

This is especially the case with breastfed babies and it’s perfectly normal! (In fact, it’s a good thing!)

Cluster feeding helps them to “tank up” before the night and encourages longer stretches of nighttime sleep. It also signals your body to produce more milk.

If they are acting hungry an hour (or less) after they just ate, it’s okay to feed them again!

Ignore everyone’s negative comments and just feed your baby…. yes again!  😉

Is Your Baby Over-Tired or Over-Stimulated?

Babies often cry when they are tired and they are tired a lot!

Many babies simply don’t get enough sleep and this can cause them to be extremely cranky… even hysterical… so much so that parents mistakenly assume that they are in pain.

Are you missing your baby’s sleep cues?

Unfortunately, most new parents miss their baby’s sleep cues which can lead to an overtired baby fast!

When a baby is overtired, their body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which keeps the brain awake and alert, even when they are really tired.

Like feeding cues, crying is a late sleep cue, too.

When your sleepy baby reaches the point of fussing or crying, it can be really hard to settle him down.

The key to preventing an inconsolable or hysterically crying infant, is to catch those early sleep cues.

If you don’t know about “sleep cues” and “wake windows”… find out more in this post. 

If your baby has been awake for a while, try swaddling her and taking her into a dark, quiet room to nurse, feed or rock.

Even if she recently ate and is bottle-fed, try offering her an extra ounce to help her drift off to sleep. This is often enough to calm babies down.

If he doesn’t settle, consider using the 5-S’s to settle your baby.

When babies are overstimulated by light, noise and lots of activity, it can be very hard for them to settle to sleep and they can quickly become overtired.

What About Colic?

In fact, many baby sleep experts now believe that so-called “colic” may actually be linked to sleep/stimulation issues rather than digestive issues!

I agree with this theory and have written a post that goes more in detail about how to calm and prevent an over-tired baby!

What causes over tiredness in babies?

When they are awake too long, this leads to an overload of sensory stimulation resulting in an overtired/overstimulated baby.

Newborns are especially prone to this.

In addition, the 23 solutions (below) will also help with your overtired baby!

Is Your Baby in Pain?

When talking about how to calm a crying baby, most parents assume that their baby is in pain.

Although this may be true, it’s been my experience that an overtired baby is the primary reason for most inconsolable crying!

That being said, trust your mommy gut! If you think your baby is in pain, make sure that you discuss his symptoms with your doctor.

The most common newborn pain is generally digestive pain such as infant reflux or gas pains.

There are natural remedies you can try to help relieve reflux and gas pain.

If your baby tends to spit up after eating or arches his back a lot, he may be experiencing reflux pain.

Sometimes reflux can occur even when there is no spitting up. That is much harder to diagnose, but your doctor may help you recognize the condition.

A common sign of gas pain (other than hearing frequent baby toots) is a baby that kicks and pushes a lot with his legs.

Is Your Baby Going Through a Growth Spurt?

Babies go through seasons of growth spurts where they eat or sleep more.

This is perfectly normal.

Your baby may need to nurse more often to signal your body to produce more breast milk, or she may need her volumes increased if she is bottle-feeding.

She may also need extra sleep during these times.

If your baby is going through a growth spurt, she will most likely cry to signal her need for more food or sleep. (or both!)

Does Your Baby Feel Safe and Secure? 

Newborns need to be held, comforted and soothed.

If they are not, they won’t feel safe and secure. This insecurity can lead to periods of fussiness and crying.

Some parents worry that if they hold their newborns too much, they will be spoiling them.

That is a myth that needs to be rejected!

Recent studies prove that old wives’ tail to be totally false!

On the contrary, the more we hold and nurture our babies, the more adjusted and secure they will be as children and adults.

Remember… you can never spoil a baby (or child) by loving them too much!

Does Your Baby have a Soiled Diaper?

No explanation needed here. Some babies are really sensitive to this!

Maybe all of the above?

It is my opinion that a baby may begin crying for one reason, such as pain or hunger, and then once the crying escalates he also becomes overstimulated or overtired.

Because extended periods of crying causes baby’s body to release adrenaline and cortisol, it’s best to try to prevent a baby from getting to that state.

When we talk about how to calm a crying baby, it’s often better to try and avoid the crying all together.

Sometimes it takes time to get to know your baby, but in time you will become more familiar with your baby’s likes and dislikes.

You will also be better able to recognize his feeding and sleepy cues long before the crying begins.

A baby can also pick up on his parent’s stress or anxiety, so try to remain calm and peaceful in the midst of a crying episode.

How to Calm a Crying Baby with these 23 Easy Solutions and Natural Remedies

For best results, use more than one of these techniques together! Keep reading…

*Disclaimer – The information in the post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Please make sure that you talk with your baby’s doctor if she seems to be crying excessively. Always check with your health care practitioner before giving your baby supplements, medications or remedies.

 

1. Try feeding your baby

Yes, even if he recently ate, he may need this to calm and be soothed.

Breastfed babies generally take in smaller volumes per feeding, so may need to eat more often, especially during the evening hours.

Even when babies are not hungry, they often like to comfort suck. A lot.

A pacifier may help with this if they don’t seem interested in food.

2. Try skin-to-skin

Multiple studies show the value and effectiveness of skin-to-skin contact in calming and soothing a crying baby.

When a baby is placed skin-to-skin with her mother, she is able to return rather quickly to a calm state of mind.

This helps the baby who was previously overstimulated or inconsolable to relax enough to nurse or sleep.

The reason a baby likes skin-to-skin so much is because it is baby’s natural habitat where baby feels safe and secure!

3. Try a pacifier

If you suspect reflux pain, a pacifier may help!

Pacifiers encourage the baby to suck and swallow more often. This increases the amount of saliva that the baby swallows, which coats and soothes the digestive track.

In addition, some babies just have a greater need to suck and a pacifier can be a good option for a tired, breastfeeding mom who just needs a break!

4. Try swaddling your baby … I mean CORRECTLY!

When I’m asked how to calm a crying baby, the swaddle is one of my top picks!

Babies love the feeling of being held and snuggled, which is why swaddling works.

Swaddling mimics being held and reminds them of the womb, helping them feel safe and secure.

It also prevents the startling reflex from waking or scaring them.

Unfortunately, many parents do not swaddle properly, causing parents to think that their baby HATES the swaddle.

The truth is that parents are often swaddling incorrectly which upsets the baby.

Are you interested in a super easy swaddle that you can’t possibly mess up?

I vote for this swaddle!  If you get the correct size, there is no way possible that you can do it wrong. Yeah!

Learn more swaddling tips including how to swaddle your baby the correct way in this post! 

5.  Keep the room quiet and dark

Turn off the TV or other noisy stimulation which makes it hard for your baby to settle down.

Avoid lots of company or taking the baby out in public too often.

6. Change their diaper

If the soiled diaper bothers them, this is an obvious solution.

But, there’s another reason to change a diaper…. distraction!

Sometimes the distraction of a diaper change can calm a crying baby and some babies really like to have their diaper off to calm them.

Once they are calmed down, it’s easier to feed them and get them to sleep!

7. Try extra burping

Some babies really need to burp and will suffer if they don’t.

Gently patting their back is not only good for burping, but is usually soothing as well.

Some babies take a while to give up their burps, so be patient and try various positions.

Often, a change of position is the key to getting out the burps. This is why many babies will burp after a diaper change!

8. Try more frequent, smaller feedings

Reflux or gassy babies often do better with more frequent, smaller feedings.

Burp often during and after a feeding and hold her upright for about 20-30 minutes after the feeding to help with digestion before laying her flat.

Check out more infant reflux tips in this post. 

9. Try Gripe Water

How to calm a crying baby with gripe water? It’s definitely worth a try!

Gripe water is a popular home remedy for baby’s digestive woes…. gas, colic, reflux and even hiccups!

You can either buy gripe water or make your own!

But… be choosy. Not all gripe water is equal.

I recommend a gripe water that is natural and without all the nasty preservatives.  I like this brand.

You can even make your own with this easy gripe water recipe!

10.  Use heat

If you suspect gas pain, try using a warm pack under your baby’s tummy.

Try holding him in the colic hold position with your baby’s chest laid over your forearm in a face down position.  Then place a warm pack between your hand and baby’s tummy.

The pressure and heat is very soothing!  

11.  Use a sound machine

Most babies find sound machines very soothing and comforting.  It reminds them of the sounds of the womb and they love it!

It also makes it easier for parents to sneak in and out of baby’s room without waking baby.

This is my favorite sound machine because it is small, portable and works great!

You can also download free white noise apps on your phone or tablet too. Give it a try!

Pro-tip:  A vacuum cleaner or hair dryer! 

I know this sounds crazy, but some families find that turning on a vacuum cleaner or a loud hair dryer is a distraction that calms their crying baby! Give it a try if you’re desperate!

12.  Try a change of scenery

Go outside, move to a different room, go for a ride in the car, etc.

Sometimes a change of scenery is a welcomed distraction for baby and parent, and often helps a fussy baby forget his woes.

13.  Switch to Dr. Brown’s bottles

If you use bottles, try Dr. Brown’s bottles.

They are well-known for preventing babies from swallowing extra air which leads to digestive upset.

I have personally noticed a difference with many of my clients’ babies!

14.  Have a latch assessment

For breast-fed babies, have a latch assessment by a lactation professional.

Sometimes fussy babies are swallowing too much air, or not transferring enough milk if they have a poor latch.

One easy way to tell if the latch is off is mom’s comfort level.

If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort with breastfeeding, it’s likely that a poor latch is a reason.

15.  Try homeopathic remedies

I use homeopathy for my family and we love it!

There are several homeopathic remedies for babies that I think work really well.

Hylands Homeopathic makes some great baby products that I have found can really help.

The best thing about homeopathy, is that not only does it often act quickly for fast relief, but it claims to gently stimulate the body to uproot the underlying cause of the condition.

A few doses may be needed, so please be patient!

For general fussiness or over tiredness, try this. For gas pain or colic, try this.

16.  Try chiropractic care

Chiropractors are not just for spinal injuries.

They can help with a whole host of health issues from constipation to ear infections to gas pain.

My kids grew up with chiropractic care and each of them made a visit to our chiropractor when they were tiny newborns.

Sometimes a gentle adjustment by a skilled chiropractor (who is trained and experienced with newborns) can make a HUGE difference in your baby’s mood!

When I share my own family’s experiences with how to calm a crying baby, I always testify to this one… I am a believer!

17. Try infant massage

Abdominal massage helps baby relax, expel gas, and encourages frequent bowel movements.

I highly recommend this great video for a 10 minute full body infant massage lesson!

Jump ahead to the abdominal massage section to find out how to help calm a colicky baby!

18.  Try Windi

Another new product that works great to relieve gas and constipation is called Windi, the Gas Passer!

It is manufactured by the makers of Nose Frida.

It was designed by a doctor.

I’ve watched this work with my clients’ babies and it works fast!

19.  Use all-natural colic drops

If you prefer the ease of a pre-made colic remedy, try these…

I love all these brands as they are safe and free of nasty chemicals or preservatives  Catnip and fennel extract,  Baby Magic Tea, or Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water

I don’t recommend Mylicon drops, mainstream brands of Gripe Water, or other over-the-counter gas remedies because they all contain questionable ingredients such as sugar, propylene glycol and disodium EDTA … no thank you!

20.  Try music!

Some babies love music and will be easily soothed with soft peaceful music.

21. Try movement

Want another great idea for how to calm a crying baby?

Swinging, rocking, dancing, and gentle bouncing!

These are all movements that remind them of being in the womb and that comforts them.

Have you considered gently bouncing on an exercise ball?

You know…the one that you used for your labor? The birthing ball? Yup. Same thing.

They bounce and guess what? Babies LOVE them!


22. Try the “Colic Hold”

I can’t believe that I almost forgot this one!

Try holding your baby on his side or stomach.

After swaddling, hold baby on his side (either towards you or away from your body.)

You can also try baby’s face down over your forearm.

While holding in this way, gently bounce or jiggle.

 

23. Wear Your Baby!

Much crying can be prevented if you wear your baby.

Baby wearing helps a baby feel safe and secure.

When babies are worn in a sling or wrap, it reminds them of the womb. This feeling of security can help a baby to calm down or prevent the crying in the first place.

If you have a baby that is easily overstimulated or doesn’t nap well, baby-wearing can encourage frequent and longer daytime napping.

It also encourages baby to get enough daytime feedings.

Not enough daytime feedings is actually a very common new parent sleep mistake.

A baby that doesn’t get enough daytime feedings, will wake more often at night and be fussier during the evening hours!

A well-rested, well-fed baby is a happier baby and a better night-time sleeper!

Speaking of night sleep, here are some great tips for middle-of-the-night feedings!   to help parents get back to sleep faster!

*Disclaimer – The information in the post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Please make sure that you talk with your baby’s doctor if she seems to be crying excessively. Always check with your health care practitioner before giving your baby supplements, medications or remedies.

30 Easy Sleep Tips for New Parents

Having a newborn is hard!

The greatest challenge for most new parents is loss of sleep.

How can you get more sleep with your newborn? It is possible!

I teach new parents how to maximize their sleep during the postpartum period.

I have compiled all my favorite doula tips into a very practical and useful book on sleep for new parents.

This is NOT your average book on baby sleep, but an easy step-by-step, hands-on survival guide for new parents!

It’s called 30 Sleep Hacks for New Parents: A Sleep Survival Guide for Parents of Newborns. 

This quick read is a very affordable eBook that will be a game changer for your family!

Download your copy here. 

Have you learned any other tips for how to calm a crying baby? What worked to sooth or comfort them?  Please share in the comments!

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