50 tried and tested ways to soothe a crying baby

Stop your little one’s tears straight away with these practical tips from mums and experts

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50-tried-and-tested-ways-to-soothe-a-crying-baby_11993
Should you always psoothe your crying baby – yes, says expert Penelope Leach

1) “A friend told me to rub my daughter’s forehead gently, particularly between her eyes, very slowly and lightly when she was crying. It seemed to really relax her and I’d gradually see her eyes start to close.”

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Phoebe Doyle, 33, from Nottingham, mum to Rosie, 5, and Charles, 2

2) “Gentle rocking and walking while speaking softly works for me. Sometimes changing to a quieter, darker room helps.”

Vita Bayley, 30, from Hampshire, mum to Theo, 2, and Quentin, 4 months

3) The best way to soothe my daughter was to rock her while speaking to her in a low, gentle voice. Lightly tapping her bottom and back also helped. I think it may have reminded her of my heartbeat.”

Carol Smith, 30, via Twitter

4) “If the room’s noisy – people are trying to get your baby’s attention or music boxes are playing – and your baby turns her head away and cries, she may be trying to find some peace. If that’s the case it’s time for a quiet, dark room and peaceful cuddles.”

Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No-Cry Solution series of books for parents

5) “My baby’s soothed by slow, rhythmic patting on her nappy.”

Mel Scott via Twitter, mum to Toni-Joi, 8 months

6) “Get Dad to help out and give yourself a break. With his extra body warmth, strong arms and deeper voice, many mums say that Dad is king when it comes to soothing.”

Josie, via email

7) “I always kept a bottle of cooled boiled water to give to my son when he had wind. It seemed to help with his pain.”

Katriona Lewis, 37, from Borehamwood, mum to Jerome, 11 months

8) “The main reasons a new baby will cry are because he’s hungry or overtired. Try a feed and then cuddle him and sing. Try swaddling if your baby’s still small enough and put him in his cot. If your baby’s very upset, lay him on his tummy across your lower arm (turned upwards) and rub his back.”

Rachel Waddilove, author of The Baby Book

9) “Young babies seem to want the safety of the womb back, and appear to have an in-built alarm system that’s triggered if you put them down. Warm, cuddling, rocking arms can simulate the womb, as can swaddling, sucking and background noise – being placed on a still, cool and silent firm surface can signal danger.”

Juliet Pollard, NCT postnatal leader

10) “Pop a piece of your clothing into the baby’s crib. Your familiar smell will help to comfort him.”

Annette Maloney, health visitor

11) “Ask yourself if your crying baby needs a change of scene. It’s good for both you and your baby to get out and about. Babies love the fresh air and it can help them settle easier at night as well.”

Janine Rudin, antenatal teacher

12) “Try a foot massage: cradle your baby’s foot in one hand and rotate the thumb of your other hand in an anti-clockwise spiral in the centre of your baby’s sole. Try running your thumb from big toe to heel several times. This is reassuring, settling and great for overtiredness.”

Helen Redfern, baby massage instructor

13) “I sit in a chair and sway for a couple of minutes, then walk around before sitting and swaying again.”

Siobhan Nicolas, 34, from St Petersburg, Russia, mum to Miamae, 5, and Juilet, 3

14) “A baby’s generally most comfortable in an environment that has a constant temperature of around 18°C. Anything between 16°C and 23°C is suitable, as long as the bedding and baby clothes are in-keeping with the temperature.”

Dr Carol Cooper, family doctor and mum of three

15) “Keeping calm and peaceful while your baby’s crying is a big help. They can sense if you’re tense and that makes it worse. So, by staying calm and relaxed – however hard that may be – you’re helping them a lot.”

Claire Lacovara, 27, from Croydon, mum to Florence, 8 months

16)   “My son had colic and cried every night for months! We found lots of ways to soothe him. One was using an exercise ball to bounce on while holding him and making ‘shhh’ sounds.”

Carla Newey, 29, from Haywards Heath, mum to Elijah, 22 mths

17)“Distracting my little one with peek-a-boo worked wonders for me.”

Jessica Peters, 21, from Ongar, mum to Kyle, 3

18)  “Stroking my son’s hair, giving him his fave teddy, and doing the same to the teddy! Sounds strange but it worked for me.”

Deborah Osborne-Walker, 31, from Surrey, mum to Nathaniel, 20  months

19)“Try using a soft toy or rattle to distract your little one from the tears.”

Clare Dunbar, mum to Christos, 7 months

20) “Keep reassuring them. I would tell Kenneth that I wasn’t going anywhere, and he calmed down quicker.”

Gillian Mackenzie, from Aberdeen, mum to twins Kenneth and Freya, 3

21) “Turning down the lights can really help – it creates a soothing, soft environment, which calms my son down when he’s crying.”

Sarah James, 35, from Greenwich, mum to Ben, 1

22) “When Poppy cries it usually means she’s hungry or she’s tired. If she’s tired we rock her to sleep and then sigh with relief as she usually then wakes up all smiles.”

Claire White, 37, from Manchester, mum to Poppy, 4 months

23) “Skin-to-skin contact is a simple and lovely way to soothe a crying baby. The mother’s warmth releases a surge of the loving hormones oxytocin and prolactin to help comfort the baby.”

Sioned Hilton, breastfeeding expert with Medela UK

24) “I used to try and distract my crying tots by moving near a window and pointing out trees, dogs, anything!”

Jo, via email

25) “When all else fails, try acting like a buffoon. Making a loud noise or waving my arms around, so the baby thinks, ‘who’s this idiot?’”

Jenny Mckintyre, mum of 2

26) “My daughter suffered from colic, so I had endless days of crying with her until my midwife suggested I rocked her from one hand to another, slowly, while she sat on my knee. It did the trick.”

Carolyn Hanley, from Enfield, mum to Charley, 7 months

27) “Slow dancing to songs with bass beats, like Bob Marley, works with my colicky baby.”

Hayley Williams, mum to 6-week-old Jake

28) “Singing in a quiet, gentle voice often works a treat.”

Bryony Churchill, of Like Minders, a London-based babysitting agency

29) “Putting on the hairdryer can send them to sleep.”

Jessica Lucas, 32, from Hoddesdon, mum to Oliver, 3, and Isabella, 10 weeks

30) “Singing Close To You, by the Carpenters.”

Fiona Spencer, 31, from London, mum to Thomas, 7 mths

31) “I always sing to my son when he cries – he knows the songs and even now if I start singing one of them when he’s upset he quickly calms down.”

Lorna Kidd, from Surrey, mum to Ethan, 14 months

32) “Moody jazz music played low while walking around the room or up and down the landing works for me.”

Amanda Marfield, 31, from Hanwell, mum to Megan, 10 months

33)  “Sing early Beatles songs.”

Ayd Instone, nanny

34) “Whispering in their ear or running the tap can snap a young baby out of a crying spell.”

Tanith Carey, author of How to be an Amazing Mum When You Just Don’t Have the Time

35) “I put April in the pushchair and go into the garden when she’s crying.”

Karen Harrison, 25, from Cambridgeshire, mum to April, 6 months

36) “Gas was a problem for my daughter Leah. I tried sitting her in a warm bath and rubbing her tummy with some oil. If that didn’t help, I’d lie her on her back and make a cycling motion with her legs. She’d fart and stop crying.”

Jo Wilson, from Bucks, mum to Leah, 14 months

37) “Share the load. Your baby’s crying can quickly become very distressing and exhausting. One parent could pacify the baby while the other rests. Too much handling of a baby when they’re in distress can make them even more fractious and unsettled.”

Maternity nurse Margarita Atieh, The Baby Planner

38) “Cooled cucumber batons helped my daughter Kyra when she was crying from teething pains. They really soothed her gums.”

Martina Evans, from Southhampton, mum to Kyra, 2

39) “Cuddles! I used a technique from Dr Karp on the Richard & Judy show. He showed how to swaddle them tightly, then gently rock them while making a loud ‘shushing’. It was a godsend.”

Karen Fullerton, 34, from Warrington, mum to Chloe, 3

40) “Crying can be caused by frustration. I find distraction, such as dancing or making funny faces, is a great way of making them forget why they were crying in the first place.”

Rachel Mulligan, 41, from Grand Cayman, mum to Livia, 6, and Ruby, 17 months

41) “If the crying’s due to tiredness or temper, I take Charley to a calm place and read her favourite book to her,  or I stroke her hair and hold her hand to settle her.”

Alison Wallace, from Geneva, mum to Charley, 2

42) “Put your crying little one in the buggy and go to a café – the fresh air and movement really helped my babies calm down and go to sleep, and a drink cheered me up no end!”

Laura Phillips, 36, from London, mum to Elliot, 2, and Florence, 6 weeks

43) “If your little one’s really upset, use a drop of Roman chamomile oil with 10ml organic sunflower oil. Massage her legs, arms and tummy gently to calm her down.”

Gayle Berry, baby massage expert

44) “With my tot, the only thing that soothed him was patting his back and saying ‘shhh’ in his ear. I spent weeks of my life doing that.”

Joanne Waltham, via Twitter

45)”Do some yoga breathing, counting slowly to five as you breathe in, then out for five. As my chest rises and falls my daughter often follows suit and calms right down as well.”

Ruth, via email

46) “When your baby’s crying, take a step back and think about what may be upsetting him. If he’s teething, you can feel the teeth coming through by running your finger over your baby’s gums. Use a teething ring from the fridge, which is cooling. Also Sophie the Giraffe is good for your little one to bite into.”

Ali Durban, childcare expert

47) “I’d never heard of Nelsons teething granules before a friend recommended them, but I liked the idea of a natural product. Reuben took to them and his crying calmed down. He became a lot less irritable.”

Sophie Collins, mum to Reuben, 18 months

48) “I found a gadget called Baby Sound Spa at a trade show and rely on it when Theo’s crying. The calm whooshing noise, which is meant to replicate the noise babies hear in the womb, helped him settle him when he cried at night.”

Anya, mum to Theo, 17 months

49) “Weleda’s Chamomilla Granules (£6.95 for 15g), made from soothing chamomile root, are brilliant for crying, colicky babies, or those that are teething or just miserable.”

Sue Martin, nanny

50) “TummyTub baths are a fantastic way to calm a crying baby. The baths allow your baby to feel as though they’re back in the womb, which is very comforting, soothing and relaxing.”

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Juliette Laing, from London, mum to Reece, 5, and Imogen, 2

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