When you can’t calm your baby, you can calm yourself
December 11, 2020
There is no one you love more than your baby, and there is nothing you want more than to soothe your baby when they can’t stop crying. And babies cry – a lot! That’s how they communicate.
Still, you’ve tried everything but nothing is working and you’re at your wit's end. Every parent has been there.
Those frustrating moments are when it is most important to stay calm in order to calm your baby. As a parent, you should have a plan in advance so you know what you’ll do when your baby cries uncontrollably. Anyone who helps you care for your baby should also know what they’ll do, too.
Parents and caregivers should know to never shake a baby, throw a baby or put them down roughly. So, what do you do instead? Here are tips and resources that anyone can use.
- Make a plan. Every baby cries so parents and caregivers need to be ready and know how to respond to help them think clearly during a life’s stressful moments. Children’s Hospital Colorado has a checklist and template to help you plan to advance.
- Calm yourself, before you can calm your baby. You might need a few minutes to stretch, exercise or listen to music. If you need to leave your baby alone, put them down in a crib without anything else – no blankets, no bottles, nothing – and go to another room. Open a window and get some air.
- Breathe. A few deep breaths may be exactly what you need. Give it try and see how you feel.
- Call a friend. When you’re feeling stressed, call a friend who can listen to you and provide emotional support. When your friend calls you in a moment of stress, make time for them, too.
These tips are so important because shaking a baby, throwing a baby or putting them down roughly can cause severe head trauma.
Why is my baby crying?
Before babies can talk they cry to tell you that they need something. When your baby is crying, you can …
- Check their diaper and change it.
- Swaddle your baby in a large, thin blanket to help them feel secure. This video shows how to swaddle baby.
- Feed your baby slowly, stopping to burp often.
- Offer your baby a pacifier.
- Hold your baby against bare skin, like on your chest or cheek.
- Rock your baby using slow, rhythmic movements.
- Sing to your baby or play soft, soothing music. You can also search for lullaby stations on Pandora or Spotify.
- Take your baby for a walk in a stroller.
- Go for a ride with your baby in the car (remember to always use a car seat).
Additional Resources and Tips
Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Kempe Center have more information online for parents and for professionals. Visit their site.
- Find more calming techniques for parents and caregivers.
- Call the Fussy Baby Network at 1-877-627-9227 (1-877-6-CRYCARE) or email them at FussyBabyNetworkColorado.org.
Call 1-844-493-TALK to talk it out with a trained professional counselor at Colorado Crisis Services. It’s confidential, free and available 24/7.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more information about abusive head trauma and what parents can do to prevent it.