Soothing strategies for a crying baby
It takes your crying baby’s brain about five minutes to register and fully respond to a calming strategy – so try each of the following for five minutes before moving on to the next.
Peace and quiet
If your newborn is fussing and she is in a loud, bright place, take her to a quieter room and draw the curtains. If she has become over-stimulated because there are too many people around her, find somewhere calmer. Cradle her in a sling to shield her from the barrage of sensory input.
Newborns can rarely cope with more than 10 minutes of visual stimulation. Do not surround your baby with piles of toys – limit the stimulation so that she can attend well to one activity without being over-stimulated.
If she is starting to calm herself by sucking on her hands or by bringing them to the midline of her body, don’t interupt her. If your baby is not soothing herself at all (which is very common under nine weeks), try swaddling her with her hands near her face. In this position she will attempt to soothe herself by sucking on her hands. Try not to give her a dummy, pick her up to soother her or feed her as soon as she starts fussing.
Swaddling your newborn has a wonderfully calming effect. Even if you think your newborn does not like to be swaddled, persist: babies who are swaddled are significantly calmer and have longer periods of undisturbed sleep than babies who are not. Most babies like to be swaddled until they are nine to 12 weeks old. Sfter this point, she may push her arms out, but for sleep times continue to swaddle under her arms.
Touch is a tool that mothers use intuitively with their babies, from a kiss to a hug. If your baby tends to be fussy, try a daily massage. When she’s crying, use gentle but firm patting to calm her.
Calm your baby with rocking motions – a sling is very good for this. Research shows that babies who are carried in a sling are less fussy. For newborns, use a sling that provides good support. She will benefit from a calming influence of deep pressure and rocking motion. For sensitive babies, a good walk in a carrier or sling is calming.
Talk or sing softly to her: she loves the sound of your voice. Newborns find vacuum cleaners and washing machines calming.