When a baby first cries, it usually means they have some kind of need – hunger, tiredness or discomfort, for example. Your first reaction will always be to meet that need. If you follow a routine it will be pretty easy to see if the next feed or nap is due soon, but if not, you might need to do a bit of „detective work“. Sometimes, though, babies can get upset and “stuck” crying so that they struggle to calm down even after the nappy has been changed and they are warm, fed, well burped and comfortable. This is especially true if they are overtired or overstimulated, then babies simply don’t know how to relax enough to fall asleep.
There are a few tricks to bear in mind when that happens, most of them designed to remind your baby of the safe and secure home they have so recently left – the womb.
1. Hold them tight
Until quite recently, your baby was squashed into pretty tight quarters. They feel safe and secure when held firmly, which you can do by wrapping them in your arms, using a swaddle, putting them in a sling or even strapping them snuggly into a car seat.
2. Rhythmic movement
Rhythmic movements like walking up and downstairs, rocking on a chair or bouncing on an exercise ball can be very soothing. A baby swing or bouncy chair can also provide this comforting movement, especially useful if you have twins or triplets and can’t hold everyone at the same time. Vibrations can also be soothing, and some baby chairs have a built-in vibration mode.
3. White noise
The womb is a pretty noisy place, and white noise can help your baby feel safe and secure. Anything from a fan to a washing machine, a car engine to you whispering “shhhhh” can do the trick, and of course, you can also buy white noise machines or use an app. You might also like to experiment with other noises, like pink noise or the sound of falling rain, or even music. Don’t restrict yourself to lullabies, either. Music with a strong drum beat can be surprisingly soothing.
4. The tummy hold
Babies have a reflex that means they stop crying if you hold them on their fronts, not for long, but often long enough to break the crying cycle and let you step into soothing them. Some babies who struggle with reflux or wind can also find gentle pressure on their tummy eases that discomfort. The best way to do this is to lay your baby along your forearm, like a tiger on the branch of a tree. Of course, this is only for playtime and cuddles; they need to be put on their back to sleep.
5. A change of scene
Often moving to a new location is enough to encourage your baby to pause and relax. This is especially true if they are feeling a bit overwhelmed and you move to somewhere less stimulating or outdoors. A change of scene can also help you relax, which your baby will pick up on and reflect on.
Putting it all together
There are many ways to put these different factors together, but here are some ideas:
- Holding your baby securely in your arms while dancing to music you enjoy.
- Putting your baby in a carrier, wrap or sling and heading outside for a walk.
- A car ride involves white noise from the engine, snug straps in the car seat and movement.
- Singing to your baby while you cuddle in a rocking chair.
- Swaddling your baby and popping them in a pram under a tree.