I try to take deep breaths to relax and focus when my baby is inconsolable. This baby was trying my patience. There is no challenge greater than loving your small, innocent child and feeling so frustrated while trying to care for them. It made me feel helpless.
I am normally a confident mom, but this was making me guess.
The twins went to bed about 9:00pm after breastfeeding to sleep. My babies (not one of the 4) have ever been able to soothe themselves to sleep as infants. They needed a lot of mom.
I thought I now had my evening to relax until the next feeding would begin. An hour into my quiet evening, my little girl woke up-screaming. She was crying so hard.
I first thought she had gas, so we bounced around the room while I was holding her and patting her back.
It was not helping.
Next I switched to feeding her. It would not be odd for my breastfed babies to eat more frequently than the experts suggest. I had babies that needed to eat every hour at times.
Feeding her was not helping.
I tried rocking,
I tried humming, shooshing, pleading with her…kinda silly to be bargaining with a baby…
It was not working.
We turned lights on, turned lights off, read a book, watched TV.
It was now midnight. I had been trying to soothe my baby for 2 hours.
I finally decided to strap her into the car seat, head out into the night and drive around the neighborhood. It was my final attempt to get her to quiet down and fall asleep. She was seven months old, so she should have been over the day is night, night is day confusion that newborns are born with.
In my pajamas I strapped my daughter safely into the care while she was still crying. The moment I shifted the car into drive, she stopped.
It was brilliant, except that we could not drive around all night long. I drove around for about 20 minutes. I honestly did not want to get too far away since it was so late at night. My husband did not even know we were out since he was fast asleep.
When I thought she had settled in to sleep-finally-I cautiously drove back home and tried to exit the car and unbuckle my baby as quietly as possible. I thought about both of us staying in the car to sleep so I did not have to pick her up, possibly waking her up.
I unstrapped her, she woke up.
I felt like I was walking on egg shells with this baby. Trying to soothe a crying baby is no simple task at times.
It was another hour of whimpering and then she appeared to really be asleep. Then of course I stared at her to be sure. I moved as if I was walking on ice trying not to shift too quickly and wake her up!
We moms are stealthy ninjas when it comes to moving in a way to not wake up a sleeping child!
I tiptoed upstairs and placed my baby into her crib. The release of tension in that moment when your arms have been working for hours to soothe a crying baby and your brain has been pushed to its operational limit, is an amazing moment.
Eventually soothing my crying baby worked. Something worked. Not one thing sticks out in my mind that works every time, but there are a list of things I always try when I need to soothe a crying baby.
Next time you find yourself in this challenging situation, go through this list as many times as necessary.
Motherhood does not have one simple formula for all of us to follow, but these are tips that always helped me just because I could keep trying.
14 Ways to Soothe a Crying Baby
1. Feed your baby
It is always worth a try. Even my oldest, when he was on formula for a time, ate more frequently than the can suggested during growth spurts. Ask your doctor of course, but babies are not robots, they may need to eat at different intervals.
2. Skin to skin contact
It has been suggested to help babies develop on track and encourages the bond between mom and baby that helps breastfeeding succeed. If feeding your baby does not soothe them, try laying them on your bare chest or belly and rubbing their back.
3. Change their diaper
Even if you just checked. It often irriates babies to have even a mildly wet or soiled diaper. No matter how wet or full it feels, check if it needs to be changed-again.
4. Use a pacifier
My oldest is the only baby that took a pacifier, and it did not harm our breastfeeding experience. All babies are a little different, but if your baby will take a pacifier, you can always try. My younger three never wanted it.
5. Hold them
Even when you think it isn’t helping, it is. Over time your baby will feel your presence when they are held and will develop that bond so they feel secure enough to not cry all the time-or late at night. It can take time though, but it will go by quickly…not what we want to hear late at night when we are exhausted, but truly, it will not last forever. You will want to soak up cuddles with that baby.
6. Sing to your baby
Humming or singing, and even playing music softly can distract babies from their “issue” and focus on the soothing sounds. Many play yards or bouncers have music features so that leads me to number 7.
7. Use a rocking chair or bouncer
To soothe a crying baby I find rocking them or gently bouncing them in a bouncy chair to be very helpful. The repetitive motion is calming for you and baby. Bouncers often have a vibration feature you can turn on. This helped my oldest fall asleep while a newborn. It is worth a try.
8. Lavender essential oil
Lavender is an essential oil that is considered to be safe for even an 8lb. infant as long as you dilute it in coconut or olive oil. It can soothe baby if you massage it onto the arch of their feet. Ask your doctor for more info.
9. Drive around in the car
It is a parenting rite of passage: driving around at night in the attempt to soothe a crying baby. If you haven’t had to do it, you are missing out! Just kidding. Driving worked for my crying champ, but be safe especially if you are driving at night.
10. Try colic drops
If you have experienced late nights trying to soothe a crying baby many nights in a row, it is time to ask your doctor for some advice. Colic drops may be needed. We can hold and sing and rock them, but if there is a bigger issue in place, then baby needs more support.
Gerber® Soothe Probiotic Colic Drops are formulated with comforting probiotics L. reuteri which is a probiotic safe for infants. It has been clinically shown to significantly reduce crying time in colicky babies. Gerber® Soothe® Colic Drops are ideal for breastfed babies.
(If you feed your baby formula, Gerber® Good Start® Soothe Infant Formula is an option for formula fed babies.)
11. Read books to your baby
It can seem a little silly if baby is really loud, but reading can soothe little ones. Grab a short board book or two and just read for a bit. It may take one book to get baby’s attention.
Pointing at the pictures and telling baby what you see is another way to “read” books to your infants that are helpful for learning and soothing. Your closeness while they are upset combined with reading means they will learn to associate reading with comfort too. A great lesson!
12. Swaddle your baby
When baby feels physically secure they can grow to feel emotionally secure. Swaddling is a great way to give baby that security.
13. Call a friend or family member
We do not call on them enough in our tough moments, I think. If you are trying and trying to soothe a crying baby and cannot get anything to work, call someone before you get overloaded.
Maybe the new voice will grab baby’s attention if you put the phone on speaker or try a video call.
Maybe some encouraging words will at least help you stay strong for your baby.
If this is not possible, and you are getting to the point of breaking, set baby down in their crib and walk out for a minute.
A minute will feel very long with a crying baby, but you will get to breathe.
Take some deep breaths, say a prayer, and if baby stops on her own, go in to check, but let her sleep. If she keeps crying, I would go back in and start the soothing list over again.
14. Be patient
The hardest part of parenting is being patient enough to find joy in each stage of your child’s life.
When our child is crying we want them to stop;
when they are crawling we want them to walk.
When baby is crying, they need you.
We are talking babies here not toddlers or preschoolers who know how to throw tantrums with a purpose.
Infants (under age 1 year) need you when they cry.
Be as patient as you can, but ask for help and get a minute away if you need it. This stage will not last forever.
What are your best tips for trying to soothe a crying baby whether during the day or night? Share your #formulaforhappiness when baby is crying.
I received a free sample of Gerber® Soothe probiotic colic drops from Gerber®. My thoughts and opinions are my own. I want to thank Gerber® for providing Colic Drops in return for sharing this list of tips with you.
You can learn more about Gerber® Soothe® Products like Gerber® Soothe® Probiotic Drops or Gerber® Good Start® Soothe Infant Formula as a part of the #formulaforhappiness by visiting the NEW Gerber® Soothe® web page.
Gerber® has different experts available (Registered Dietitians, Certified Lactation Consultant and Certified Baby Sleep Consultant) to answer any questions. Go to Gerber.com/experts or call 1-800-203-4565.
Stay strong mamas. What you do matters.
Gerber® Soothe probiotics is a supplement probiotic and Gerber® Good Start® Soothe is a routine infant formula. These products are not intended to treat or cure any disease.