There’s no getting around it: Babies cry. It’s how they communicate hunger, pain, fear, the need to sleep, and more. So how are you supposed to know exactly what your baby is trying to tell you?
Here are the most common reasons babies cry:
- Stomach problems from colic and gas
- Needs to burp
- A dirty diaper
- Needs sleep
- Too cold or too hot
- Teething pain
- Something painful and hard to notice
- Wants less stimulation
- Wants more stimulation
- Not feeling well
Full tummy? Check. Clean diaper? Check. No fever? Check. So why is your baby crying?
Babies have their own good reasons. But they don’t have the words to tell us what’s wrong, and even the wisest parents can’t read their baby’s mind. However, you can still comfort your baby, even if you don’t know why he’s upset.
Luckily, the members of the Mom365 Community have been there and done that. Here are their top ten ways to help a crying newborn baby calm down.
1. Make a Baby Burrito
Your newborn loves to feel safe and secure, like he did when he was in-utero. By wrapping him up snugly and securing his arms by his sides, so they won’t flail out and startle him, you’re re-creating that cozy feeling he enjoyed for nine comfy months.
“Swaddling is the best thing ever!! Swaddle him and rock him. Make sure the swaddle is very tight.”— Rachel Jines
2. Lend a (Clean) Finger
Babies love to suck; it’s a natural reflex in newborns through about three months of age. Some babies begin sucking their thumbs while still in the womb, and for many newborns sucking on their fingers and hands or a pacifier can be very soothing. In a pinch you can also offer your little one a clean pinkie; just touch your finger to the top of their mouth to trigger the rooting reflex.
“Are you giving him a pacifier? Babies have a natural sucking reflex, so maybe he just needs to suck. I was trying not to use one too often, but once I started using one more, it helped a lot.”—Bella
3. Keep It Moving
Your baby might have been well-insulated while on the inside, but she still felt plenty of movement. Try gently bouncing her up and down or swinging her from side to side when she needs help settling down.
“We put her in her car seat, strap her in loosely, and swing her back and forth until she falls asleep. Something about the deep seat and the wider range of motion that you can get with the car seat works since she hates the baby swing.”— Jilando
4. Make Some Noise
Having just emerged from a very loud place—your body, where the sounds of a pumping heart, flowing blood and various other bodily functions can get a bit noisy—newborns are often soothed by the familiar dull roar of white noise. Noise machines, vacuum cleaners, noise machines and vacuum cleaners: try them out and see what works for your baby.
“If she instantly stops crying [when you turn on the vacuum], go and get a white noise machine. You could also try shushing in her ear (has to be loud enough to get her attention, and louder than her screams). Remember the key to white noise working is it has to be loud, then after she’s asleep you can turn it down a little.”—Pooter Pie
5. Go Outside
Not only will the movement and change in environment help soothe your babe, but it will help restore your calm as well.
“Many (most?) babies just stop crying immediately when they feel the fresh air. I try to take my baby out for fresh air every day—she sleeps better and I get the exercise and so the whole family is happy.”
6. Consider Allergies
Approximately two to three percent of babies develop allergies to the protein in milk, a key ingredient in many baby formulas, leading to stomach pain, gassiness and general fussiness—cue the tears! If your baby repeatedly shows symptoms like loose stools, vomiting, gagging and irritability, you might want to talk to your doctor.
“After mentioning the crying to my daughter’s pediatrician, they asked me to bring in a stool sample for them to test. The test revealed blood in my daughter’s stool! My daughter has an allergy to cow’s milk protein which made her extremely fussy. It caused her to have symptoms of colitis which I’m sure is extremely painful in an infant.”—Tianasmom
7. Zone’m Out
Newborns are easily overwhelmed by their new reality: the noises, the people, the smells… modern life can be a lot for a little one to deal with all the time! Overstimulated babies can quickly become inconsolable; the best way to soothe your little one in this situation might be to just go dark.
“She might be overstimulated. So, if you can take her into a very dark room (either quiet or with white noise, if it helps) and hold her still and not talk to her, it can help her block out whatever was making her scream.” —LallyDay
8. Consider Your Diet
Gas and stomach pain can be the source of some serious infant tears; their still-developing digestive systems can make it difficult to process some of the foods making their way to them through your breastmilk. Modifying your diet might alleviate some gas and digestive discomfort. Always check with your doctor before making changes.
“My son cried a lot, especially when he had gas or pooped. He had one night where he cried for six hours straight! I was using the gas drops a lot, but even those didn’t help much. Once I changed diets things got a lot better though.” —Megan Ramirez
9. Change the Story
Sometimes distracting your little one will lead to calming, almost as if you hit the reset button. Be careful, though, as it might have the opposite effect on an overstimulated baby.
“My daughter is two months old and my mom got her a lil projector thing that replays a small slide show on her ceiling. The one that’s in it right now is a sheep, then a star and a cloud, and more stars and the moon, I believe. My daughter loves it. She will just lay there staring at it for hours without fussing or just fall asleep to it. It also plays a few noises as well. —darksunset13
10. Go for a Bike Ride
If you’ve burped your little one after a feeding, but she still seems fussy, try “biking” her legs, which can help relieve any gas that might be causing pain.