Your baby is fed, diaper is changed and none of the usual baby hold techniques are working to keep the fussiness away, so what else can you try? Here are 12 Ways to Soothe Baby with videos and explanations.
12 Ways to Soothe Baby – the top 5
1) White noise: The rhythmic, monotonous whooshing sound remind your baby of what it sounded like in the womb and covers up distracting noises by making one uniform sound. There are free white noise apps on your smartphone, but even the sound of a fan or a humidifier will work and of course your own gentle shhhhhh will work. Just make sure the noise is not too loud, and don’t shhh directly into baby’s ear. White noise can lull babies to sleep and help them stay asleep.
2) The OM Technique: Thank goodness for this guy who showed us all how powerful laying baby on your chest and chanting a low, slow ohm…ohm…ohm can be! The vibration and sound are soothing to baby, kind of a different version of white noise.
3) Exercise ball: Hold baby in either a cradle hold or up on your chest, sit on an exercise ball and gently bounce.
4) Baby-wearing: Babies, especially newborns love to be held constantly so a baby carrier or sling keeps your baby close while leaving your hands free. Our favorites are the Moby and the Baby Bjorn; your decision will depend on which is most comfortable for you. Babies can’t be spoiled by being held too much. Think about it…your child was literally inside another person for their whole life before being born!
5) Swaddling: Babies like to be tightly swaddled because it reminds them of being snug inside the womb. They also get relief from the reflexive motions that cause them to sometimes flail their arms and legs; they don’t have control over these so swaddling helps. If you want to learn to swaddle like a pro, watch 2 different techniques of here in our step-by-step demonstration YouTube.
12 Ways to Soothe Baby – 7 More!
6) Skin to skin contact: Called “Kangaroo care” in the NICU, skin to skin not only calms babies, but helps them grow and develop. Get your baby down to her diaper, snuggle in close and get as much “skin to skin” contact as possible. It calms, reassures, and is great for bonding.
Skin to Skin is helpful for all babies (and parents!) of course, not just those born premature or with reasons to be in the NICU. A very cool study by the AAP shows that when done safely and in accordance with safe sleep guidelines, SSC decreases maternal stress and improves paternal perception of stress in their relationship. Additional benefits include, stabilized body temperature, glucose levels and reduced crying!
7) Take a bath with baby. Have you ever heard a veteran parent say, “If they’re crabby, put ’em in water!”? Taking a bath is a soothing experience for adults so why not baby too? First, test the temperature of the water. Then get in the tub and have baby lay chest to chest with you. Gently hold little one and relax. This is also a wonderful opportunity for breastfeeding or skin to skin contact
8) Try the “colic hold:” To do the colic hold, you’ll lay baby tummy down and face out on your forearm and gently rock him back and forth. Pressure on baby’s tummy is soothing and may help relieve gas. Watch here!
9) Or try Dr. Hamilton’s The Hold: made famous by pediatrician Dr. Robert Hamilton where you lean baby forward, secure her arms and you slightly jiggle their bottom. (yes, really!) Watch here for his personal demonstration.
10) Eyebrow strokes: Human instinct is to close our eyes when something comes close to them so gently stroking baby’s eyebrows with one finger can help them calm when they don’t yet have their own tools to relax. Demo from the Peaceful Sleeper here.
11) Massage. Massage can be a useful tool in calming your baby. Lay your little one on her back on a changing table or other flat surface. Gently massage the top and sides of her head, the face and jaw muscles, then the arms, tummy and legs. You can even combine soothing massage with laying baby on your legs or belly.
12) Turn down stimuli: It’s easy for us parents to overlook the daily barrage of lights and sounds we’re all accustomed to. Your newborn baby was in darkness for nine months; his nervous system is still immature and all these new stimuli can be overwhelming. Try turning off the TV and dimming the lights. Sometimes, bringing baby to his dark, quiet nursery will also help him relax.
Included in stimuli for babies and kids is blue light. Blue light is given off by tablets, smartphones, flat screen TV’s and laptops. Children’s eyes don’t filter this type of light as well as adults and the more light we’re exposed to at night, the less melatonin we produce. This affects sleep and natural rhythms.
But what if none of it works?
It’s important to remember that sometimes your baby will just cry. And you will feel frustrated. If baby is not hungry and not injured or in need of medical attention, and you feel like you might be reaching a breaking point while baby is crying, it is okay to place baby in a safe place like the crib and walk away for a few minutes. If your infant is over 12 months old, it’s also okay to let them sleep with a favorite item that might help calm them as well. Before 12 months there should be no items in the crib because they may pose a safety risk.
The Period of Purple Crying is a real phase that babies go through when they cry more than any other time. Your baby will most likely go through it too. If you’re concerned, contact your child’s primary care physician. And if you’re worried about yourself or your partner, reach out to Postpartum Support International, because you’re not alone.
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