Mr and Mrs

5 Ways to Calm a Crying Baby

How desperate have you been to soothe your poor, sweet, in need of help, crying baby? How much would you pay for what you might consider magic… soothing your baby?

Hows about not having to feel like your walking on glass, just waiting for the next outburst while you are on the highway driving with no exits in sight? Or maybe just starting out at the top of your never ending grocery list?

Maybe its when you finally close your eyes after being awake so long you feel dangerously close to drunk. To wish that the hospital sent you home with a prescription for a magic baby fairy instead of an unlimited amount of stool softeners.

My husband and I would agree that in one of these frustrating moments, being able to sooth your baby is priceless. What if we told you there was no need for magic? What if we told you the answer is just 5 key steps laid out in Dr. Harvey Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Just one measly little book you say? As the fairy godmother in Cinderella would say, “IMPOSSIBLE!” Knowing full well it is oh so POSSIBLE. This time however, no magic is needed.

Please don’t get me wrong. This post is not for purposes of just advertising another parenting book. Our copy of the book has highlights and page markers on almost every page. Of all the books we read this was our lifesaver. We referenced it on a daily basis after our son arrived.

Keeping Your Calm when your Little One Can’t

I will be completely honest, even though to this day I am still a bit ashamed, I had crippling anxiety when my baby started crying. I could not keep my calm, doubting and blaming myself anytime my son had a hard time. Eventually I learned why babies cry and that it’s okay.

Read More: 5 reasons Your Newborn Cries

Dr. Karp even mentions some parents can keep calm understanding that this is a baby’s way of communicating or just blowing off steam and others take it a little more to heart. I took it to heart.

Unfortunately it took a few months to get the hang of what our baby needed specifically. In those months Dr. Karp’s method worked so well that my anxiety subsided. He gave us the tools to be confident and take charge when it came to soothing our baby.

The book goes into depth about why babies cry, crying throughout our ancestry, suggestions and answers to common questions for new parents, how to’s and much more. Most importantly, it goes into depth about the star of the show…the 5 techniques to calming a baby.

Not only is the book about calming a baby but getting your baby to sleep and stay asleep. Now that’s a two for one deal if you ask me.

It is a fascinating read that took my husband and I only a few days to get through.

Who better to trust as an expert than a pediatrician and a father to be giving this advice. And really the proof is in the pudding. We promise you won’t be sorry.

Click the link below and get your copy now.

While your waiting for your copy, keep reading below to get the 5 steps to calming a crying baby straight from the book.

Step 1: Swaddling

Oh the swaddle and I have a love hate relationship. I was a deer in headlights no matter how many times I was shown how to swaddle. My husband however got it on the first try during our first baby class months before I gave birth.

Practice, practice practice and eventually you will get it…the book has a nice diagram you can follow as well. And then you will birth a strong 10lb baby who will constantly punch his way out.

That’s when you can enlist the help of some velcro which is already strategically placed throughout sleep sacs. We used the Halo Sleep Sacs and they were pretty much escape proof.

I think one of the biggest issues with swaddling is it’s not done right. It needs to be tight enough for the baby to feel secure. It seem so unnatural, like we are doing something terrible.

If we did it just right my son would sleep for hours and hours. By the second month we dropped the 2:00 a.m. feeding.

The other problem is while you’re wrestling to get it just right I’m sure your baby is just amping up the crying a few notches. Many parents give up thinking the baby is crying because they don’t like it.

Eventually the baby will adapt to it and you will be so fast at it your baby won’t have a chance to make a peep.

If they carry on then move to step 2.

Step 2. Side/Stomach position

I know, I know Back is Best. However, my son struggled with gas issues. Starting him on his side would sometimes be enough for him to fall asleep instantly without having to do the last 3 steps. And yes, I was glued to our video monitor while he was on his side.

He very quickly learned to do it on his own even though he was swaddled. I remember my husband and I would sneak in after he fell asleep and try and coax him back onto his back without waking him.

I think this was the most interesting section of the book. Laying them on their side turns on their soothing reflex and off the moro (startle) reflex in their brain. Laying them on their back when they are upset just annoys them.

You’ll have to consult the book for the more detailed scientific explanation of this.

With our son there were two go to positions we learned. If he was just fussy we would lay him across our lap on his stomach and rub his back. As he got older he started to think it was fun.

The second go-to was when he was having a super meltdown. First we would securely swaddle him, then turn him on his side and cradle him facing toward your chest. Then move onto the next two steps.

Step 3. Shushing

It may seem to go against your instincts and a little bit rude as a mother, but shushing loudly in your baby’s ear is a soothing technique that works. According to Dr. Karp, this reminds baby of the ambient sounds they are used to from inside the mother’s womb.

All they heard was muffled by a loud, constant whoosh, so shushing in their ear can trigger that sleep instinct. It almost overwhelms whatever is bothering them, stops the crying and puts them into a sleepy trance.

As an added bonus start using white noise for sleeping. It mimics that shushing noise and keeps them from waking at every little sound. You will need it even more so when the you have to say goodbye to the swaddle.

To this day we still use it. I vow to use it forever. I know a huge concern is babies getting “addicted” to these five methods. Dr. Karp explains it in full detail as well as how to and in what order to remove them.

I even remember my own mom concerned that it would damage his hearing or he wouldn’t be able to sleep without it. Then I realized both sets of grandparents and my husband and I all sleep with a noise machine. We have air purifiers, cpap machines, fans etc.

I got so used to it that when I sleep out of my house I have to download a white noise app just to sleep. So, if it helps prevent SIDS, helps my son fall asleep and stay asleep then it’s  a no-brainer to me.

Step 4. Swinging

Swinging is another instinctual call back to being in the womb. Babies spent night and day floating around and rocking back and forth in the womb. It calmed them then and it calms them now because of the instinct they had for so long.

Interestingly enough, this is why your baby kicked more when you tried to lay down and rest or fall asleep. The lack of your motion meant the swinging sensation stopped.

Depending on how upset they are will depend on what type of rocking movement you will need. There are two types a gentle swaying side to side or short bursts up and down.

Many parents purchase a rocking chair. Instead, we decided to use a bassinet stroller as our son’s bed. That way once he was swaddled, laid on his side, noise on and pacifier in we could gently rock him to sleep and then leave him when he actually fell asleep.

Which brings me to the last step… sucking.

Step 5. Sucking

Many parents shy away from pacifiers. Seeing how this is one of baby’s core soothing techniques, it often comes across more like tough love for little or no gain.

It is perfectly acceptable for infants to use a pacifier, and studies show that they both reduce the chance of overbite from thumb sucking and reduce the chance of SIDS.

That being said, it works wonders soothing a crying baby and is even a form of exercise for them! Some babies actually have a genetic drive to suck.

No one ever goes to college with a pacifier, so parents cut yourself a break. If this is one your baby flocks to it’s okay.

This list might sound fairly easy. If you try it and it doesn’t work the book, and we can vouch for this, says practice makes perfect. Do them in the exact order laid out above. Most of all be sure and confident even if you don’t feel like you really are.

If it still isn’t working enlist dad. Dad’s have an amazing power to soothe crying babies. I saw it with my husband and our son. But I didn’t really believe it until I saw him do it with his niece. The grandfathers are a pretty sure bet, but I just always cracked it up to previous experience.

Our son is on his way to completing his first year and although he hasn’t been swaddled for sometime, there are still a couple of these tried and true methods we use to this day.

Eventually you will learn which of these your baby likes the most. We have had to use all five when our son was a newborn and really out of sorts. And sometimes we only had to use two or three.

Mumtobe Guest Bloggers Mr and Mrs aka Christine and Trevor share their family life experiences and tips and tricks they have learned along the way from pregnancy to parenting. Find out more at www.themrandmrsblog.com.

In addition to publishing new articles on the blog they also have a weekly newsletter sharing parenting secrets, resources and goodies.

Follow Mr and Mrs on Twitter & Pinterest

latest blog articles

More from the blog...