How to Calm a Crying Baby

Remember - NEVER shake a baby
out of frustration or exhaustion, as you may cause irreversible brain damage, or even death. 

Try to determine the cause of the crying.  It is normal for babies to cry.  Is the baby hungry, over-tired, wanting attention and stimulation, a change of scenery, hot or cold, need a diaper change, need to burp or pass gas, or actually sick?  Every baby has a fussy period. 

To calm a fussy baby...
  • Bounce on a Ball.   Hold your baby in his/her favorite position and gently bounce and rock back and forth on the ball.  Gym/birthing balls inflate to about 24-26".  The constant bouncing movement comforts a fussy baby, and the baby usually calms down and will fall asleep.   

  • Swaddle the baby.  Some people find that swaddling the baby calms her and makes it a little easier to control and handle the baby.

  • Pacifier.  Sucking teaches babies to self-soothe.  Some people feel it interferes with breastfeeding, causes dental problems, hinders speech development, and is a hard habit to break.  (Breaking a pacifier habit may be easier than trying to take away your child's thumb.) 

  • Calm a Crying Newborn.

    Thanks to a video
    from a 30-year pediatrician, Dr. Robert Hamilton shows you how to calm a crying newborn baby with a simple baby hold, turning a screeching newborn from crying to cooing in no time.

    Dr. Hamilton's technique, termed simply "The Hold," involves

    1.  Fold the arms across the chest.  Wrap the baby's right arm across its chest, and the left arm across his body on top of the right arm.

    2.  Secure the two arms gently, with one hand, very gently holding his arms with one hand. 

    3.  Place your dominant hand gently on the diaper area, and position the baby so he leans forward at a 45 degree angle. 

    4.  Rock at this 45 degree angle very gently.  Gently bounce the baby up and down with your hand on its bottom. There's even an optional "booty shake" technique utilized by the doctor, where he gently shakes the baby’s bottom with his hand, in a motion back-and-forth, or rock him up and down, or gently stir him to the left and then stir him to the right. 

    The baby should comfort very quickly.  Everything you do is very gently…with no jerky motions.  Hold the baby with the fleshy part of your hands, not your fingertips.  Holding the baby at a 45 degree angle instead of holding him upright, keeps the baby from throwing his head back and losing control of holding him safely. 

    The hold is very effective for the first 2 months. 
    After that, the baby becomes too heavy; and it is very difficult to hold a baby this way at that point. 

    If your baby does not quiet down,
    Dr. Hamilton suggests the baby may be ill and not feeling well, or he may be hungry.   

    See a demonstration of “the hold” at The YouTube video.

    Newborn babies make people of all ages a little uncomfortable. They appear so delicate, their heads are floppy and everyone hears horror stories about that soft spot on the top of their head where their skull hasn't fused yet.  More likely, though, baby sitters and caregivers worldwide live in fear of a newborn that will cry unrelentingly. An adept parent can usually deduce the cause of the fussing and is able to remedy it with a feeding, changing, or a nap. There are times, however, when a baby seems unsoothable.  That is when “the hold” can comfort and calm babies and keep them quiet.    (“The Hold,” YouTube video with Dr. Robert C. Hamilton, M.D., F.A.A.P., Pacific Ocean Pediatrics, Santa Monica, California)

  • 5  S's  to calm a crying baby (by Dr. Harvey Karp)

    of Dr. Harvey Karp explaining the 5 S's:

    Read "The Happiest Baby on the Block," by Dr. Harvey Karp

  • Crying Babies is the #1 reason for the Shaken Baby Syndrome. 
Additional Resources