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Tips for Calming Your Crying Baby

Happy infant All babies cry and at times it can leave parents feelings helpless and frustrated. Understanding why a baby cries can help parents feel more confident in responding to their baby’s needs.

Consoling an irritable infant can be one of the most stressful parenting challenges. You may have noticed your baby crying more than usual, but are not sure what to do. First, check in with your doctor to make sure there is not a physical cause for the crying, like feeding issues or infection.

It’s also important to know that all babies cry, especially in the first four months of life. Beginning at two weeks, babies begin to cry more. At the peak of crying, around four to six weeks, babies can cry three or more hours per day. Crying and fussing during this special period tends to happen more in the late afternoon and evening and has no obvious reason (e.g., hunger, dirty diaper, tired, needs to burp). The baby may even look like they are in pain -- face may be flushed, brow furrowed, fists clenched.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to try to calm your baby.

  • First, check all the usual suspects. For example, does the diaper need changing? Is it feeding time? Your baby may cry if overwhelmed by new objects, sights, and sounds or if they become bored.
  • Gently rock or walk with your infant to calm your baby. Avoid over-stimulation like excessively patting, playing loud music or rattling toys.

Mother soothing a crying babyRegardless, there may be times when, no matter what you try, you may not be able to soothe your baby. If you begin to feel frustrated or angry, remember the baby is not crying because of you and it is not the baby’s fault. It’s ok to take a time out.

  • Put the baby down in a safe place and take a break for a few minutes. Check on your baby every few minutes, but do not pick your baby up if you are feeling angry or frustrated.
  • Call a friend or relative to calm down. Or ask your friend or relative to watch your baby for a little while so you can take a break.

Here are some things you can do early on to prevent your baby from crying as much:

  • Always respond quickly and affectionately to your baby’s crying (as well as all of baby’s efforts to communicate with you) and try to figure out what the baby needs you to do.
  • Try to carry your infant with you more during your daily activities and talk to the baby while you do.
  • Create and follow a routine for feeding, bathing, sleeping, and other activities. Try to stick to this routine on most days of the week. This will help your baby know what to expect at different times during the day.

For more parenting resources, check out the CDC Parent Portal


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