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Soothing Your New Baby

When your baby cries, it’s important to respond quickly without making a fuss. Letting him cry for a long time will agitate him more. There are simple things that you can do to help soothe your newborn and help him fall asleep.

Wrap him up quite firmly in a baby quilt or receiving blanket, tucking the ends under him to make a neat bundle. It may comfort him to feel safe and secure. Carry him around in your arms still swaddled up until he seems happier, and put him down to sleep on his back without unwrapping him. If your baby is crying because of something you’ve had to do to him–perhaps he hates being dressed or washed, for example–swaddling may be the best way to reassure and calm him, and stop the crying.

Movement often comforts a cranky baby, and may put him to sleep. Rock him in your arms, and if he doesn’t quiet down, try rocking faster — perhaps 60 to 70 rocks per minute. Or just jiggle him up and down by shifting from foot to foot, perhaps with your baby in an infant carrier on your chest. Or rock with him in a rocking chair, if you have one. Or put her in her stroller or carriage and push her back and forth or go for a walk around the block.

Very often, this will be just the sort of loving contact your baby needs to calm down and stop crying. If he quiets when you hold him upright against your shoulder, or face down in your arms, it may have been gas making him cry. If he has been passed around for relatives and friends to hold, he may just want a few quiet moments of being cuddled by a familiar parent.

Something to look at may make your baby forget why he was crying, at least for a while. Bright, colorful patterns may fascinate him. He will often gaze intently at postcards, wallpaper, or your clothes. Faces and mirrors are also excellent distractions, and a walk around the house to look at photographs or to peer into a mirror may calm him.

Your baby may be gassy and need to burp. Rhythmically patting and rubbing his back or stomach will often calm him down and may help him to bring up gas. The feel of your hand will often comfort him when you first put him down to change his diaper, too. Try patting his chest or belly to help him calm down.

Almost all babies are soothed by sucking, and nowadays mothers are often sent home from the hospital with a pacifier for their newborn. Obstetrical nurses have been known to use them, so don’t be afraid to try one. You might also offer your cranky baby your own clean little finger. Some newborns suck their own thumbs or fists. Your baby may not want to suck on a prop, but would rather nurse for comfort. This is ok, too. It will just help strengthen the bond between you and your baby.

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