It is so stressful trying to calm a crying, fussy baby. I’ve been there, though let me be transparent about one thing: Hailey, my first-born, was a good baby. I mean, all babies are wonderful, of course, but I’ve come to learn from other parents that I had it pretty lucky in terms of sleeping, eating and general newborn drama.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t struggle, though. Hailey would sometimes get fussy for reasons I couldn’t totally understand, especially in the evenings…
I’m sure it had nothing to do with mom forcing a bow on her head.
Thanks to other moms sharing their tips, and then a lot of trial and error, I was able to discover some invaluable weapons to add to my arsenal that help conquer the crazy times. Some you may find in the baby books, and others you won’t, but they’ve been newborn tested and approved, which make them far more worthy in my opinion.
5 Proven Ways to Calm a Crying Baby
1. The Hairdryer.
We discovered this gem in the hospital on the second night. I always knew white noise was supposedly comforting to babies, so when we couldn’t settle Hailey down, I whipped it out and plugged it in.
As soon as we turned it on, it was like a switch flipped. She quieted down immediately. That night we slept with the hair dryer on all night long… it worked! We ended up using it every night at bedtime — 10 minutes of the noise helped her zonk out, and then we switched to the sleep sheep ocean noise.
2. The Birthing Ball.
Also known as an exercise ball. Though it failed me miserably in helping me go into labor, it became incredibly helpful in the first few weeks at home with a new baby, and acted as another chair in our living room.
Sometimes Hailey didn’t like being still, rocking or walking, but she never said no to bouncing. I’m not sure if it’s all the time I spent bouncing on it when she was in the womb, but she loved it.
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If we couldn’t calm her down, we’d simply hold her and sit on the ball and bounce. Instantly, she quieted down and her eyes got big as she looked around, completely content.
The only downside to the ball? Eventually it made me ache, but I suffered through it because of how much she loved it!
3. The Swaddle.
I always winced a little when I saw babies turned into tiny burritos. How can it possibly be comfortable to be restrained like that?
Well, now I know why people do it — it works! And babies love it. As they explain in The Happiest Baby on the Block (a book that turned out to be very helpful for us!), the swaddle alone may not always do the trick, but it is the perfect position to get your baby in in order to calm her down.
Babies aren’t able to control their limbs when they are real little, so they flail around like crazy sometimes, which can wake them up. When Hailey went to bed, we double swaddled her nice and tight to make sure she couldn’t Houdini her way out of it. It worked wonders because she slept like a champ and woke up usually one time each night, either around 2am or 4am.
David is the super swaddler. In the hospital the nurses all commented on how David’s swaddle was the best they’ve ever seen… I’m so proud 😉
PS- I’ve heard a lot of people say that their baby fights the swaddle and doesn’t like it. Now, I’m no expert, but yes, the baby will fight the swaddle at first, but once they are tightly wrapped up and being rocked, I’ve found that it really does work wonders in keeping them calm.
4. The Pacifier.
I have mixed emotions on this one. I had it in my head that I should NOT use a pacifier. I heard they can mess with breastfeeding, cause dental problems, hinder speech development and be a nasty habit to try and break.
However, my sweet little angel loved to suck. When she could find her fingers, she loved it, but she lacked the coordination to always find and keep her fingers in her mouth. So one night, at about 3.5 weeks old, I broke down and offered my crying child a pacifier. She loved it. I felt guilty.
I polled moms and asked friends their opinions on pacifiers and found that overwhelmingly, people liked them. Sucking teaches babies to self soothe and I also heard that many babies weaned themselves off of them as soon as they didn’t need them anymore, sometimes by 3-6 months. Also, I heard stories about how breaking a pacifier habit is easier than trying to take away your child’s thumb. That makes sense 🙂
So, we did use a pacifier, although still with some hesitancy. I followed my own made up rules of not forcing it on her, only offering it when all else failed and removing it once she calmed down and spit it out. I also didn’t give it to her at night because she didn’t need it then, so I saved it for when we were out in public and I needed a sure-fire method to calm her down.
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Oh, and she was still great with eating, so it’s nice to know it didn’t interfere with breastfeeding.
Before having a baby, I heard about people that raised ‘box babies.’ meaning they always put the babies in places, rather than holding them. They would put the baby in a swing, then a boppy, then in the crib, etc.
Well, even though Hailey did take a nap in her boppy occasionally, I found that sometimes when she got upset she just wanted to be held, entertained or change positions. If she’d been on her back and became fussy, sometimes just putting her on my chest for come tummy time would calm her right down.
Other times, she just wanted me to sit in front of her and make goofy faces and noises (I’m convinced she liked this and I was looking ridiculous for a good reason ;)). Usually I was rewarded with big smiles, which felt like getting a gold star in the parenting world.
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Bathtime. The child just loved it!
These are methods that seriously worked like a charm for us. Of course, check first if the baby needs a new diaper, is hungry, hot or uncomfortable, but if all the basics are covered, these take care of fusses every time!
What is one method you use that is guaranteed to calm down a crying baby?