End Crying With the 5 S's
Far from being quiet and serene, the womb is noisy and jiggly! Use these methods to replicate it and turn on your baby's calming reflex.
1 Swaddling Wrap her arms snugly down against her sides, but leave her legs loose and flexed so that her hips have room to move.
2 Side/Stomach It's easiest to calm a crying baby when he's lying on his side or stomach. (Note: babies should never sleep on their side or stomach.)
3 Shushing Start out as loud as your baby's cry. The womb has a constant rumbling, one that's louder than a vacuum cleaner. womb-like sounds help babies sleep longer, even during teething and growth spurts. you can't shush 24/7, so I recommend white noise for at least the first 12 months to calm fussing, and for all naps and nights to boost sleep. (And by the way, hissy fans and mellow ocean sounds usually just don't cut it. Specially engineered, rumbling white-noise CDs or audio downloads work the best. They're easy to use all night, in the car, and on trips.)
4 Swinging A slow and smooth motion keeps babies calm. But to put the brakes on explosive, "colicky" crying, your movements should be fast, tiny (about an inch), and jiggly—though not anything that feels aggressive or like shaking. If you get frustrated from all the crying, put your little one down and take a break. Never shake your baby, and warn any caregivers never to shake.
5 Sucking For many babies, nursing or using a pacifier is the key to gliding into profound tranquility. A caveat: each baby is different. Some need swaddling and shushing, while others don't calm until you add swinging. And mega-fussy kids usually need four or five S's done all together—with vigor—to switch on their calming reflex.
Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Parents magazine.