How to Calm a Crying Baby

August 12, 2018 Pamela Redmond
calm a crying baby

by Pamela Redmond Satran

There are lots of articles, books, products, and videos that promise to teach you how to calm a crying baby. Many of them work…sometimes.

And then there are those times when nothing seems to work, no matter how many crazy things you try. Here’s a minute-by-minute playbook of those real-life times:

2:01 P.M. Baby goes down for nap. Husband takes 3-year-old and dog to park so you can rest. House completely quiet for first time since baby was born.

2:03 Baby starts crying. You calmly and gently pick her up and say in a soft, soothing voice, “It’s okay, sweetie. Mommy’s here.”

2:05 Hold her firmly against your body, rocking to bring up any uncomfortable air bubbles.

2:07 While supporting her with your left hand, tenderly rub her back with your right hand.

2:18 Walk around the house with an exaggerated bounce, singing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”

2:22 Walk faster.

2:25 Sing louder.

2:31 Finally locate one of the 36 pacifiers strategically placed around the house, which baby immediately spits out of reach behind the sofa.

2:33 Scream “Honey!” Then remember the park. What made him think he was doing you a favor?

2:34 Time to nurse!

2:59 Still nursing.

3:27 Still nursing.

3:32 Though your breast is still technically in her mouth, the baby is lightly snoring and lies heavily, maybe even sleepily in your arms.

3:39 Lean impossibly far over until you reach the pacifier behind the sofa. Pop it in your own mouth for a second to wash it, then maneuver it into position three inches from baby’s still-suckling mouth.

3:41 Simultaneously remove your breast from her mouth and pop in pacifier. Success!

3:44 Holding breath, tiptoe to crib and set baby down in one gentle, seamless motion. Exhale. She cries.

3:45 Decide that this time you’re really going to tough it out. Letting her cry will make you a good mother, not a bad one! Leave the nursery with your heart full of resolve. Cower outside the door.

3:46 Note how long you’ve let her cry. A baby shouldn’t be left to cry alone for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Time passes. She’s crying so hard she might choke! She’ll need years of psychotherapy!

3:46:38 Rush to crib.

3:47 Maybe she’s wet. She’s not, but changing seems to calm her down. Build on it. Give here a sponge bath; dress her; groom all five hairs.

4:11 As soon as you snap the last snap, she poops. A huge one. Despite the mess, you’re relieved. This must be what made her wail.

4:27 She’s clean, dressed—time for a walk! Sure enough, as soon as that carriage starts bumping along the sidewalk, she’s serene. You stop and buy a magazine and head home to sit quietly, baby sleeping at your side, in the yard.

4:56 Park the carriage in the shade, start to lower yourself into a chair. As you hit the seat, she wails.

4:58 Walk, walk, walk. Rock, rock, rock. Stop. Screams.

5:07 Go inside. Walk, walk, walk. Rock, rock, rock. Stop. Screams.

5:14 Go to basement. Put crying baby in infant seat atop dryer. Turn dryer on. Baby’s more cheerful than she’s been all day. Until you pick up infant seat.

5:26 Carry crying baby upstairs in infant seat. Set seat with baby on floor and begin to vacuum. Baby calms. Turn off vacuum. Screams.

5:37 Sink to floor, start sobbing yourself.

5:38 In midsob, realize baby is quiet. She’s smiling! She chortles at a light patch on the ceiling.

5:39 Lie on floor beside baby seat and breathe deeply in the silence.

5:40 The door opens. Husband, child, and dog are home. Husband, “exhausted,” needs some “alone time.” Child “wants Mommy.” Dog barks. Baby smiles, sighs, and falls asleep.

Nameberry recommends:

When nothing else works, Nameberry readers recommend these products that may help soothe your baby to sleep:

Nursing Pillow

The My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow comes recommended by one Nameberry mom, who says, “This is the best money I spent on anything breastfeeding related. It clips on, so you can get up and adjust things without dropping the pillow. It has a pocket to keep a snack or your phone, and it is really comfy and easy to clean. Because it goes all the way around, your back gets supported too.” Buy from Amazon, about $40. 

Night Pacifier

MAM glow-in-the-dark pacifiers are made for infants under six months and are best for breast-fed babies. Orthodontic nipples help healthy development of baby’s mouth. Buy two for $6 from Amazon.

Soothing Doll

The Lulla Doll is a soft toy that replicates the sounds of the womb — heartbeat and breathing —  to calm your baby all night long. While it’s price-y — about $85 on Amazon — and the Lulla doesn’t work for every baby, many parents swear by it and claim it’s soothing for children from newborn to toddler. Buy from Amazon, about $85.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles


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