Calming Fussy Babies with Movement and Motion

Soothing Methods for Helping Baby Relax

Sleeping Baby
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Trying to calm a fussy baby can be a daunting task for even the most experienced parent, especially when you're feeling just as tired and out of sorts. One place to start is to try both movement and motion to temper baby colic or general infant fussiness. Sometimes a minor change of scene or a trip in the car can be the difference between a sleepless, cranky baby and a good night's rest. 

Perhaps you've seen it before, a baby captivated at a moving ceiling fan.

Or, a baby screaming his head off in his car seat until the car starts moving. Movement and motion offer babies both a distraction and, in some cases, the familiar sense of being jostled about that they experienced in the womb.

Think about ways to mimic movements that your baby is used to from being in utero. Try some of the following techniques:

  • Infant slings. Slings offer that comforting, restrictive sensation of the womb coupled with your familiar body movements. It also gives you two free hands to accomplish tasks, and lets baby feel close to mom or dad, both of whom offer an additional sense of comfort.
  • Swings and bouncy seats. The gentle movement these baby items provide can be just the trick to appease him, and may entertain him while also soothing his mood.
  • A ride in the stroller or car seat. Perhaps it's a combination of movement and a change of scenery that quiets baby fussiness. A walk or a short car ride can also be a way for mom or dad to get a little break from the grind, and is often a pleasant way to spend a little time with baby.
  • Gentle bouncing movements. The key word here is "gentle." Don't bounce your baby to the moon, but think of ways to lull your baby with up and down movements. You can do this in several ways. Standing and holding your baby while bending and straightening your legs, gingerly bouncing on a mini-trampoline, or sitting on a yoga ball and bobbing up and down.
  • The classic rocking chair. For centuries mamas and papas have been soothing their babies with the consoling remedy of the rocking chair. The repetitive motion is very calming and soothing for babies, just be sure you don't fall asleep as well!

Besides using movement as a way to calm your baby, try using objects that have continuous motion to distract and stimulate him. You may want to try one of these methods:

  • Place your baby near a ceiling fan, aquarium, or crib-safe infant mobile. They'll focus their attention on the unfamiliar movement and be calmed and relaxed.
  • Child safe mirrors may entertain your baby as he marvels at his own reflection. 
  • Take a walk on the treadmill, and position baby nearby, in a bouncy seat or swing. He's likely to be spellbound, or at least intrigued, by your exercise routine. Once your baby goes mobile on you, always take appropriate treadmill safety precautions.

You may find that one of these methods seem to work its charm on your baby. If not, try to think of other ways to use movement and motion as a soothing technique or pursue other methods that my help remedy your baby's fussiness. You may also want to speak to your pediatrician about other medical concerns that may be causing his fussiness, like reflux or colic.

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