What should I do if my baby's cries disturb the neighbors?

Q: Our baby cries for hours every evening, and I'm worried it's bothering the neighbors. What should I do?

A: It's better not to wait for your neighbors to complain. Instead, the next time you see them, strike up a conversation and acknowledge your baby's crying jags. You can say you understand how distressing it is to hear your baby cry so much (you're at point-blank range, after all), but you don't have to apologize. If your neighbors are parents, they'll probably understand -- and appreciate your thoughtful concern. If not, explain that some babies are fussier than others, and that you're doing everything you can to soothe yours. If your baby's colicky, know that this phase usually subsides by 3 or 4 months. In the meantime, here are some tricks to soothe your baby's tears you may not have tried yet:

• Swaddle your baby in a receiving blanket (this is best for babies under 2 months; older infants may get more upset if they're constricted in a swaddle). • Take your baby for a walk or drive. • Place your baby in her car seat on top of the clothes dryer (keep your hands on the seat at all times); the vibrations can be soothing.• Lay your baby down below a ceiling fan that's turned on at low speed. Give her a gentle massage with baby oil.• Put your baby in front of an aquarium. The bubbling sights and sounds are calming. Not a fish lover? Buy a toy aquarium that can perch on a table in the nursery or attach to the side of the crib.

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