Ways to Comfort a Crying Baby
Comforting techniques often will calm a crying child if the crying isn't caused by pain. These techniques may help comfort a baby with colic, because colic isn't caused by pain. But if the crying doesn't seem normal or your baby seems sick, call your doctor.
First, check to be sure your baby isn't hungry. Very young babies usually don't eat much at one sitting and may become hungry 1 to 2 hours after a feeding. Feeding your baby might stop the crying.
- Offer a pacifier for sucking. Sucking can help babies relieve stress without crying. If you are breastfeeding, experts recommend waiting 3 or 4 weeks until it's going well before you offer a pacifier.
- Try rocking your baby. Gently rock your baby, or use a mechanical swing.
- Sing quietly to your baby. You may find that singing the same song over and over is soothing. You can also try playing music at a low volume.
- Turn on something with a rhythmic sound, such as a fan that hums, a vacuum cleaner, a clothes dryer, or recordings of womb sounds. A white-noise sleep machine for babies may help. Put the machine far from the crib and use the lowest volume to keep the baby's hearing safe from harm. And use the machine only for short periods of time.
- Cuddle and hold your baby close. Touching, holding, and softly talking to the baby may stop the crying. You can also try carrying the baby around (in a sling or other baby carrier) while you are doing activities so that the baby is comforted by being close to you.
- Swaddle your baby, which means wrap your baby in a blanket. When you swaddle your baby, keep the blanket loose around the hips and legs. If the legs are wrapped tightly or straight, hip problems may develop. Be sure you don't make your child too warm.
- Give your child a warm water bath if he or she likes to take a bath.
- Try walking or taking your child for a ride in a stroller or a car. Sometimes a walk outside can change a child's mood.
- Change your baby's position. Hold your baby so that you put gentle pressure on the belly. Try holding your baby with his or her belly over your lower arm and his or her head at your elbow.
How to use the techniques
- Use one technique at a time.
- Give the technique time to work. Try it for about 1 to 2 minutes before switching to another technique.
- If your baby continues to cry for 20 to 30 minutes, change locations and try again. Sometimes nothing works. In these cases, consider placing your baby in his or her crib for a brief period (5 minutes at a time) while you stay close by. Then repeat your attempts to comfort.
- When you find what works, use it most of the time or use it as the first technique to comfort your child.
Current as of: May 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics