10 Ways to Calm your Fussy Baby

1) Breathe and Take a Break

Before you do anything else, take a few moments to center yourself and recognize what emotional state you are in.  Babies are extremely perceptive and sensitive to their caregiver’s emotions, so if you're feeling frazzled, it’s likely your baby is too.  You might be amazed how quickly your child calms after you take a few deep breaths and reduce your cortisol levels. 

If you have another caregiver available (dad, grandmother, etc), pass the baby to them and give yourself a few quiet moments in another room.  Take a walk around the block, skim a magazine, or put on some tunes while you re-center.  If you are alone, it’s ok to put the baby in his crib and take a break.  It may be hard to walk away from your crying child, but you’ll be of greater benefit to him when you come back calmer in a few moments.                                                                

2) Play Music

Turn off the TV and turn on the tunes instead.  What to play?  Anything!  It doesn't have to be that classical music CD that supposedly makes your baby smarter.  Whether you’re rocking out to Beethoven or Coldplay, it really doesn’t matter.  Listening to music can distract baby from whatever she's worked up about, and sometimes the more complex musical tunes are best.  


3) Put Baby on Tummy

Your baby may be crying for a number of reasons, one of which could be that his tummy hurts.  This could be related to reflux, indigestion, or overfeeding, but in the moment the core reason doesn’t really matter.  If you’re holding baby on his back or over your shoulder, try flipping him over so that his tummy is lying across your forearm.  Walk with him like this for a few minutes~ the gentle pressure of your arm against his belly can alleviate discomfort.  Alternatively, you can put him on his tummy on a floor blanket or in his crib.  Be sure to keep an eye on your child at all times while he’s on his belly to make sure he’s breathing ok.  If he falls asleep like this, flip him to his back to keep in accordance with safe sleep practices.  The Happi Tummi warming wrap can also offer welcome relief to your little one: wrap one of these around your baby's belly and let the natural herbs and warmth do their work.  



4) Massage your Baby

We love infant massage and know what a wonderful way it can be to calm and soothe babies.  While there is an infant massage series you can learn, we’ll offer a few simple techniques here to help you in those frenzied moments of baby’s crying and I don’t know what to do:

Belly circles

Things you’ll need: 

  • Thick blanket or towel

  • Oil or baby lotion: use a natural oil, like grapeseed or olive oil if possible
  • Optional: Relaxing music: calming for both parent and baby

Lay out a blanket or towel on the floor, and gently place baby upon it on his back.  You want to make sure the room is warm enough, as baby’s belly will be exposed and getting cold won’t do much to help his upset. Baby can be naked, in just a diaper, or wearing a shirt that you can pull up.  With warm hands, apply a little oil or lotion to her tummy and using two fingers, gently massage around the belly button in a clockwise motion.  Do this for a few moments using light pressure~ the clockwise motion is helping to ease out any trapped gas that might be in the intestines.

To see this and other tummy massage techniques, check out this video:

Knees to chest

Keep baby lying comfortably on his back for this one.  Gently bend the baby's knees, bringing them up to the chest together, pausing for a moment once they are fully flexed, then releasing back to straight.  Repeat this a few times, then alternate each leg up at a time, in a bicycle riding motion.  Like the tummy circles, this can release gas and alleviate stomach cramps. 

To see the bicycle technique:


5) Yoga Ball Bounce

You might not have known how useful that yoga ball you used during pregnancy can be after birth, but this is our favorite time to bring it out of the closet!  Babies LOVE the gentle rhythmic motion they feel while in the arms of a caregiver bouncing the lightly on the ball.  To do this, you’ll need a medium to large yoga or birthing ball that is well inflated.  Hold your baby in the cradle position or upright over your shoulder and sit with your legs wide apart and feet flat on the floor to support you.  If your feet can’t lay flat on the floor, the ball is too high for you and you could lose your balance.  Make sure the height of the ball is ok.  Put on some music and gently bounce to the beat with your baby.  This is not only calming for him, but also works to improve your posture and strengthen your back.  And bouncing is fun!


6) Mylicon or Gripe Water

They can help, but I wouldn’t put all your eggs in this basket.  We’ve found other techniques, like massage, to be more effective for eliminating gas.  But it’s good to have a bottle of gripe water or gas relief drops on hand, as it can be a useful addition to your cranky baby toolbox. 


7) Take a Walk Outside

A change of scenery can do wonders for the fussy baby.  Next time your little one works herself up and you know she’s not hungry or in need of a change, pop her in the stroller and go for a walk in the neighborhood.  Motion can be really soothing, and you’ll also benefit from a little fresh air.  Baby’s cries might wake up all the sleeping chipmunks, but go for it. 



8) White Noise Machine

Ahhh, aren’t they great for blocking out the buzzing refrigerator in your hotel room?

They work wonders in the nursery as well! Try putting on a white noise machine the next time your baby is fussy and rock her in the nursing chair. Most of them come with a variety of sound options, such as rain, thunderstorms, heartbeat, crashing waves, or nature sounds. But the actual white noise option is often the most effective.



9) Reach for the Pacifier

Yes, your baby might simply need to suck ~ remember that this is a natural reflex!  While your instinct may be to push the breast or a bottle on your baby, he is probably plenty full and doesn’t need the extra milk.  Overfeeding could make her even fussier, so reach for the paci if you feel she simply needs to suck.  It’s called a pacifier for good reason! 


10) Check Fingers and Toes

Believe it or not, a hair tightly wrapped around baby’s finger or toe can sometimes be the cause of crying, and you may not be able to see it easily.  Check to make sure all 10 fingers and toes are free and clear!  


Lavender nurses are expert baby calmers and can provide both hands-on guidance and email/phone consultations.  If you or someone you know has a fussy baby, we can help!  

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