Crying can seem very daunting and distressing for any mum to hear. But, it is important to remember that many people are in the same situation and that there are various tried and true techniques that can help you learn how to encourage your baby to stop crying.

There are also some ‘strategies’ that you should not use; you should never leave your baby to ‘cry-it-out’. However, some babies will often cry for a few minutes before going to sleep and that is perfectly normal. There is no need to rush in at the first whimper as this can hinder the sleep process, but you should standby and listen to make sure the crying does not go on for more than a couple minutes.

If the crying continues for more than a couple minutes, there is a checklist to go through to help you soothe your crying baby:

  • Nappy: Does he need to be changed?
  • Temperature: Is your baby too hot?
  • Hungry: Keeping a simple diary of feed times, lengths of breast feed or the amount of a bottle feed can help you understand your baby’s feeding pattern and help you determine whether he may be crying through hunger
  • Wind: Does he have wind? Does he seem in pain, is he arching his back or drawing his knees up to his chest? It could be that he needs a good burp, or he may be suffering with some gastric issues such as reflux
  • Tired: Most babies today are not getting enough sleep and an over-tired baby will often cry, struggle to settle to sleep and sometimes seem inconsolable. Sleep patterns obviously differ from baby to baby, but babies should get approximately 16 hours of sleep per day at 3-4 hour stints

Babies are designed to be comforted and held and sometimes they just need to be reassured. A handful of books say you should never cuddle your baby as it will spoil them. But, remember: as scary as you find being a brand new parent, your baby is also new to everything and the world can be a scary place. There are some simple tricks to try that really do work.

These 5 S’s can help soothe your crying baby:

  • Swaddling: Providing your baby is in good health and older than 6 weeks, then a tight swaddling provides the support your baby is used to experiencing within the womb. What is beneficial is swaddling the upper body while leaving legs looser to enable the baby’s legs to ‘froggy up’
  • Side/stomach position: Place baby on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. But, you should never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach down position do not leave them even for a moment
  • Shushing sounds: These imitate the continual whooshing sound in the womb
  • Swinging: New-borns are used to the swinging motions within their mother’s womb, so rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements can help
  • Sucking: Sucking triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain; don’t be afraid of using a dummy

Most babies will have unsettled periods, but if your baby is crying inconsolably for more than 10 to 15 minutes every day, then I would advise seeking further help to discover the root of the crying episodes and rule out any gastric issues such as reflux or colic.

By Nicki Pope, a Maternity Nurse at Tinies Childcare.