Provide a Change of Scenery
Why it works: Your baby's job is to learn about the world, so a good dose of wonder -- from a trip around the backyard, a splash of water, a gust of cold air from the refrigerator -- can stop a crying jag cold. "It's called a paradoxical effect: Babies are able to use stimulation from the outside world to calm themselves," explains Lester. "That's why we sometimes suggest taking a colicky baby to the mall. When you walk them around in the stroller, they're fascinated by what they see, and it keeps them quiet. In fact, it often puts them to sleep."
However, there's a flip side. Too much going on will also drive a baby crazy and lead to tears. "We pediatricians tend to get a lot of calls on Sunday nights about fussy babies," says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, who wrote Mommy Calls. "I think it's because Sunday is typically the day that relatives come over to visit. Crying may be your baby's way to blow off steam."
Soothing strategies: Nothing chills out 4-month-old Preston Taylor like exploring the natural world. "We walk outside and let him look at things in our yard, like the flag, the trees, or our two dogs," says his mom, Sandy, of Ashland City, Tennessee. "Being outside calms him every time." Indoors, expose your little one to a new sensation, such as a warm washcloth, a blast of air from a fan, or a swipe of your silky pj's, to quiet him down.
If your baby is overstimulated, give him a break. Take him away from the noise of a TV or a crowded room.