What to Do When Your Baby Is Crying

Five Ways to Calm a Crying Baby

Woman holding a crying newborn baby
A baby may cry when he's hungry, tired, or in pain. Thanasis Zovoilis/Taxi/Getty Images

What to Do When Your Baby Is Crying

One of the most enjoyable parts of having a baby is hearing the melt-your-heart, sweet-as-pie little coos that they make. And, one of the most frustrating parts of having a baby is hearing them cry, and the fact that they can't tell you what's bothering them.  Making sense of those cries is the toughest feat of all in those first few weeks. Is the baby hungry? Is he in pain?

Is she overstimulated? Is he overtired? How can you tell? What can you do when your child is crying, and you don't know why? Here are five ways to calm your crying baby.

#1. Try to Breastfeed Again

Even if you just fed your baby a little while ago, put him back to the breast and try breastfeeding again. Sometimes a child falls asleep at the breast and doesn't get enough. Then, he wakes up a little while later and wants to nurse again. Sometimes a baby takes in air when he's nursing and stops breastfeeding. Once he lets out a burp, feels better, and makes room for more breast milk, he may want to breastfeed again right away. Or, it could just be a growth spurt. When babies go through growth spurts, they seem to be continuously hungry and want to breastfeed very often for a few days in a row before going back into a more regular nursing pattern.

#2. Change Her Diaper

If your baby's diaper is wet or dirty, it could be uncomfortable on her skin.

The combination of urine and stool in a dirty diaper can sometimes cause skin irritation, as well. You may have just changed her, but it only takes a few seconds to check again. Babies can have wet diapers before, during, and after a feeding. And, sometimes the stimulation of wiping a bottom during a diaper change can make your baby go again right away.

#3. Check for Anything That Could be Causing Pain

Is your child wrapped up in her swaddle too tight? Did he scratch himself with his little fingernails? Is there a hair wrapped around her toe?  Does she need to burp? Take a minute to look over your baby to make sure she's OK and not in any pain.

#4. Take Him Out for a Walk

A little fresh air may be just what your baby needs. Whether you live in the suburbs or the city, putting your baby in the stroller and going out may be the key to a good nap (or nighttime sleep!). If she screams her way around the block, she's probably still hungry. But, if she knocks out the minute you walk out the door, she was ready for some dreams.

#5. Try a Sling or Baby Carrier

Holding your child or wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier is a great way to help calm her if she's crying. Newborns and infants like the warmth and security that being held close to their mother's body brings. While being held, your child can feel your heartbeat and hear your voice.

If you're walking while wearing your baby, the gentle movement can be comforting and rock your baby to sleep. You just want to be sure that when using a carrier or sling, you know how to position your baby correctly and use it safely.

When to Call the Doctor

If your child is still crying after feeding, changing, checking, holding, rocking, and walking, and you just cannot comfort him, you should contact the doctor. Crying could be a sign that your baby is not getting enough breast milk, or it could mean something more serious such as an illness, colic, or reflux. And, of course, if you think your child is in pain, contact your pediatrician immediately.

 

Sources:

Hunziker UA, Barr RG. Increased carrying reduces infant crying: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 1986 May 1;77(5):641-8.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

 

Edited by Donna Murray

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