23 Ways to Calm a Fussy Newborn

Here are a few calming techniques to try when you have a crying, fussy newborn.

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There are many tricks to calming a fussy newborn, but at the top of the list is identifying why your baby is crying—if you know the reason your baby is crying, you may be able to solve the problem. But, figuring out why a newborn is crying can be tricky, so you'll want some tools for soothing a fussy baby, like movement, making them comfy, and soothing sounds.

The first time you hear your baby cry is a thrilling experience; it's a sign they entered the world healthy with a great set of lungs! But as the weeks go by, the thrill may quickly give way to concern and frustration.

While no single method works for all babies, you'll soon develop a repertoire of techniques that are perfect for your child. In the meantime, read on for some time-tested ideas to help your little fusser feel better.

Get Moving

Babies are used to a lot of movement in the womb, and sometimes the transition to the outside world can feel abrupt and still, resulting in fussiness. So, shaking things up a bit may make your baby less fussy.

Rock your baby

Place baby in your arms, stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, and swivel back and forth at the hips. Your movement can be fairly vigorous as long as you're holding baby close. When you get tired, use the rocking chair.

Get a baby swing

Baby swings offer soothing, rhythmic motion that helps calm baby down. Just make sure the swing is designed for a small baby, as little ones may slump over in a large one.

Use vibrations

The vibrating motion of a washing machine or dryer has saved the sanity of many a frustrated parent. Place baby in an infant seat, put it on top of the appliance, and hold on to it firmly so the seat stays in place.

Take a drive

The smooth, consistent motion of a car or stroller ride lulls many fussy babies to sleep.

Recruit someone to help

According to many parents, there is usually that one person who is the top dog when it comes to soothing. Maybe it's because they rock your baby more quickly. Maybe it's because they swaddle more tightly. Or maybe they're just bigger and warmer. But who cares what the reason is? Get that person to help and give yourself a break.

Make Baby Comfortable

Sometimes your fussy newborn misses the confines of the uterus. A womb is not a roomy piece of real estate. Your baby is used to being packed closely in a warm, cozy environment. Emulating it stops tears and makes them feel secure.

Swaddle them

Wrapping Baby cozily in a thin, lightweight blanket with her arms across her chest has a wonderful calming effect. Swaddled babies often sleep longer and more soundly, too.

Try kangaroo care

This technique is especially good for preemies. Undress baby, lie down, place her against your naked skin, and cover both of you with a warm, soft blanket.

Strap on a sling

It's not surprising that the warm, dark, close comfort of a baby sling is a surefire soother. An added bonus: You can breastfeed anywhere undercover

Bring on the Noise

When your baby lived inside of you, they got used to hearing the pounding of your heart, the rush of your blood, and the gurgling of your stomach. For some newborns, the silence of the outside world is too much and may cause fussiness.

Turn on a fan

The soft whirring is music to a fussy baby's ears.

Tackle your vacuuming chores

Some kids are calmed by the jarring combination of noise and vibration.

Make a "shush" sound

Your shushing sound mimics what baby heard in the womb. Say it directly into her ear, over and over again.

Try white noise

Any machine with a consistent rushing sound has a soothing effect; recordings of waves on the beach, rainfall, or the sound of a waterfall will work as well.

Consider Health Problems

Sometimes a newborn is fussy due to certain health conditions.

Look for signs of gas

Some people think infants smile when they have gas; others know better. If you suspect your baby is crying from gas pain:

  • Lay him down across your knees and gently rub his back.
  • Bicycle his legs while he lies on his back.
  • Talk to your doctor about using infant gas drops.

Consider colic

One-fifth of babies develop colic, which means they cry inconsolably for three hours or more a day for three weeks or more. Colic peaks at six weeks and usually resolves itself by three months. Try baby face down on your forearm, cradle her close to your body, and rock her back and forth.

Examine your diet

If you're nursing and regular soothing tips don't help, try eliminating dairy, coffee, onions, and other potentially irritating foods from your diet.

Last-Ditch Efforts to Soothe a Fussy Newborn

Haven't found relief from your newborn's fussy spell yet? There are still a number of tricks you can try to jolly your little one out of their cranky mood.

Offer a pacifier

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there's nothing wrong with giving a newborn a pacifier. Some children have strong sucking needs and are quickly soothed by a binky. Most babies give up the pacifier on their own around the seventh month. If yours doesn't, don't worry. The AAP says it's unlikely to harm his development.

Go outside

A change of scenery can be distracting enough to calm your newborn's cries.

Give a massage

Some babies find stroking soothing.

Dim the lights and shut off the TV

Too much stimulation can jangle a newborn's nerves.

Check the temperature

Baby could be too hot or too cold, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Check their clothes

Hot, tight, or confining clothes can cause tears to flow.

Put in the earplugs

Crying tends to peak in the late afternoon or early evening – the "witching hour." If the piercing cries get to be too much, wear foam earplugs while you try the soothing techniques mentioned above.

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