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7 ways to soothe a baby

Newborn babies cry. A lot! Sometimes, the reason is obvious.

  • Are they hungry?
  • Do they need their nappy changed?
  • Are they too hot or too cold?
  • Are they tired?
  • Do they have wind?
  • Do they need a cuddle?

These reasons can be easy to solve. Other times, there may be no obvious reason as to why your newborn is crying and nothing you try seems to work.

Remember, a newborn baby has been used to being inside your belly for the last nine months; where it’s warm, dark and enclosed, with no loud noises. So, once they’re born, it’s understandable if they find it hard to settle, because the outside world is very different and unfamiliar.

If your newborn is having trouble settling and there’s no obvious reason why they’re crying, there are ways to help soothe and settle your baby.

While no single method works for all babies, we’ve compiled a list of 7 techniques that can help soothe your newborn. Try them all and find one that works for you and your baby.

Soothe a Baby

How to soothe a baby: Hold them close to you

Your newborn is used to being close to you – your scent, your voice, your movement, everything about you. Skin-to-skin contact is super-important during the early days and can really help soothe your baby. So, get cuddling.

Singing and talking to your little one can also help soothe them, as can gently “shushing” them.

If you’re breastfeeding, let your baby suckle at your breast. Even though it may not be time for a feed, just suckling and being close to you can be a great comfort for your newborn.

Although they might not weigh very much, holding them for long periods of time can take its toll on your arms and back. So, strapping them in a sling or baby carrier can keep them close to you while taking the weight off and letting you use your arms to make a drink or something to eat.

How to soothe a baby: Have some white noise in the background

Although you might think that your newborn needs silence to settle, that’s often not the case. In the womb they were used to hearing muffled voices, the gurgling of your tummy and your heart beating.

So, having a little white noise on in the background can help soothe your little one to sleep. Just putting on a fan, the vacuum cleaner or your hairdryer can have a great soothing effect.

There are also an array of white noise machines on the market that come with a range of different sounds, so you’re sure to find one that will soothe your newborn.

Rock your baby back and forth

Your baby was used to rocking back and forth when you moved while they were inside your belly. So, gentle movement can help soothe them on the outside too.

You can rock them back and forth in a pram, if they’re in a crib or Moses basket or while you’re cuddling them.

You could also take them for a drive, as the consistent motion of the car can really help soothe your baby to sleep.

Soothe a Baby

Stroke or massage your baby

Some babies like to be stroked gently on their head or back. Using clockwise, circular motions on their back can also help your baby’s digestion, which may even be the cause of their crying.

You could also try a little baby massage to soothe your little one. What’s more, it can help you relax too!

You could apply a little lotion or oil, but it’s not essential. Use a firm touch but listen to your baby’s cues as some find massage overwhelming. Check out some YouTube videos to learn the most effective technique.

How to soothe a baby: Encourage sucking

Whether you help them find their thumb or you offer them a dummy or pacifier, newborns are often able to soothe themselves by sucking. Don’t force it though – some babies just won’t take to it and this can make them even more upset.

If you’re breastfeeding, hold off using this tactic until your baby has established breastfeeding. In any case, they’ll use a sucking technique when they’re at the breast anyway.

Swaddle your baby

Swaddling is a technique where you wrap your newborn up in a blanket or cloth with their arms across their chest to help recreate the snug surroundings of being in the womb.

This can have a great calming effect and give them a sense of security. There’s a knack to wrapping your baby though, so you may want to check out some YouTube videos on how to do this effectively.

You can also buy specially designed swaddle cloths that make it easier to wrap your baby up.

Stay calm

Hearing your baby cry and not being able to settle them can be stressful and makes you feel rubbish. But no matter how frustrating their crying gets, it’s important to never shake your baby as this can be dangerous.

If your little one senses that you’re stressed, it can make them more worked up too. So, it’s important to try and stay calm.

The best thing to do is to step away and catch your breath while someone else looks after your little one. After all, everyone needs a break now and again.

If you’re still having trouble soothing your baby, remember it’s ok to ask for help. Talk to your doctor or health visitor. And remember…you’re not alone.

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