Keeping your baby's environment as peaceful as a cathedral may seem like a good way to quiet him, but total silence can be unsettling. That's because inside your belly, he heard everything from your voice to the gurgling noises of your digestive system. "Babies are soothed by the sounds they remember from their 'womb days' when their space was confined and they felt secure," says Sandy Jones, coauthor of Comforting Your Crying Baby.
Try this: Mimic the sounds your baby heard in utero. That means droning noises, such as a vacuum, an aquarium pump, a fan, or the white noise of a radio station gone off the air. "The noise needs to be as loud as your baby's crying to get his attention," explains Los Angeles pediatrician Christopher Tolcher, MD. "Then you can tone it down as he relaxes." Heartbeatlike sounds are calming, too, so hold your baby close to your chest. Music can also be helpful. "Whenever one of my daughters started crying on car trips, we'd pop in a Music Together CD, and the screaming would stop within minutes," says mom of three Jill Wilkinson, of New York City.
Your voice is also music to your baby's ears. "Studies have shown that the recognition of a mom's voice begins in utero," says parenting expert Ann Pleshette Murphy, author of The Secret of Play. "Because your voice is familiar, he'll find it comforting." Sing lullabies, or do what Melissa Berman, of New York City, did. "I made up a song to the Barney theme," says the mother of two. "Somehow that seemed to be very calming."
Or you can try to "speak the baby's language," as Maggie Sheffield, with Artist Babysitting, in New York City, does when she's with a hard-to-soothe baby: "I gently hold him and follow his breathing pattern. Then I make soothing sounds that match the rhythm of his cries. Bit by bit, I slow the tempo of my cooing, and the baby slows too."