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Soothing Baby

Why is my baby crying?

Crying is the only way babies can communicate their needs. Most babies cry between one to five hours in a 24-hour period. The most common reasons a baby cries are:

  • Hungry
  • Tired
  • Dirty/wet diaper
  • Too hot or cold
  • Bored

Don’t worry about spoiling your baby at this age. When you respond to your infant’s needs quickly, they develop trust in you and feel more secure. Many babies have a fussy period for several hours about the same time every day for no apparent reason. Sometimes you will be able to comfort your baby easily and at other times nothing will work. It is ok to feel frustrated, but it is never ok to hit, shake or scream at a baby!

Tips to comfort a fussy baby

  • Check to see if the baby is hungry or the diaper needs changing.
  • Try swaddling your baby or wrapping them snugly in a soft blanket.
  • Pat or rub your baby’s back to help them calm down or to burp them.
  • Babies like movement; try rocking, walking, playing soft music and dancing.
  • Go for a walk in the stroller or on a car ride.
  • Some babies respond well to background noise like a “shsss” sound, vacuum cleaner, or a soothing CD with rain or ocean sounds.
  • Try giving your baby a clean finger to suck on.
  • Provide a calm, quiet area for you and your baby. Many babies (and parents) find skin-to-skin touch very soothing too.

If all else fails, put your baby down in a safe place and give yourself time to calm down. Take some deep breaths. Try to soothe your baby again when you are calm.  

How to swaddle

Swaddling is often an effective way to soothe a fussy newborn.

  1. Lay a lightweight blanket in a diamond shape and fold down the top a few inches.
  2. Place baby with shoulders on the top fold of the blanket.
  3. Take the left point across the baby and tuck underneath the baby.
  4. Take the bottom point up and tuck it into the fold created by the previous step.
  5. Take the right point and wrap over and underneath the baby.

The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for baby to breathe or move his or her hips. Make sure the baby does not overheat when swaddled. Swaddling is most helpful during the first four to six weeks of life. As your infant becomes more active, discontinue swaddling. AAP guidelines recommend parents should stop swaddling at two months. Once the baby is starting to roll, swaddling should be discontinued.

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