You’re exhausted. You’re frustrated. And your baby just won’t settle. No matter how many times you feed her, sing to her or cuddle her, she continues to scream the house down.
Listening to your baby cry is an emotional experience that can leave you feeling helpless and heartbroken.
If you’re struggling with the constant cries, here are some techniques and tips that may help.
1. Settle yourself first
Your baby can sense you. When you are not calm, then she will not be calm either. You need to calm yourself down first. Leave bub for a few minutes, take some deep breaths, remind yourself that you are doing everything right, and try again.
2. Check the obvious culprits for cries
Babies generally cry when they are uncomfortable or hungry. Ensure bub has been fed, cleaned and isn’t too hot or cold. Even if you only fed your baby fifteen minutes ago, she may want more food or she may just want to suck on something. The sensation of sucking can help settle even the fussiest newborn.
3. Get naked
Skin to skin contact is a proven method to help settle a crying baby. Being as close to you as possible, being able to feel your warmth, to smell your milk and to hear your heart beating can provide instant serenity for a baby. Take off your shirt and let bub lay naked (with a nappy on) on your chest.
4. Test out Dr. Hamilton’s ‘The Hold’
Santa Monica-based Dr Hamilton released a video on his tried-and-tested technique to help settle a crying baby. The doctor has been a paediatrician for 30 years and swears by this technique, which he dubs ‘the hold.’
Essentially, as the video explains, to use ‘the hold’ you need to fold bub’s arms across his chest and secure them gently. Grasp nappy area and rock at a 45 degree angle.
5. Mimic the womb
Babies spend nine months upside down in a dark, cosy, warm pool of water (okay, it’s wee, but babies don’t know that). Now they are in this strange, bright new world that is overstimulating and confusing.
Many babies won’t settle after such a drastic change which is why you may want to transition from womb to world gently. Swaddling and wrapping bub can mimic that cosy womb feeling and may help your infant feel secure and settled.
You can also try putting bub in a warm bath (with you) and keeping the lights dim.
6. Try white noise
The womb, although cosy, was never quiet. Your bub was constantly treated to the sounds of your digestive system gurgling and your heart beating, not to mention the sound of your voice, music and other noises from outside.
To bring this familiarity back to his world, you can hold your crying baby close to you and make whooshing, shushing or gurgling sounds all night long. There are special white noise devices you can try or download a white noise and womb sounds app, such as Instant Baby Sleep or White Noise Ambience HD, which will play the white noise for you. Many parents swear that even putting on the vacuum cleaner can work to help settle a screaming baby.
7. Use massage to alleviate wind
As your baby’s tummy learns to digest milk, you can expect a few hiccups along the way. Spews and poos are pretty standard, but so is wind, gas and indigestion, which can leave bub in a lot of pain.
There are a number of techniques to try and reduce wind from your infant including burping your baby or a gentle massage. You can try gently pushing your infant’s legs into her tummy which can also help to release gas from baby’s bottom.
8. Adopt the football hold
While all babies should be put to sleep on their back, often holding bub on his side or stomach will help settle him down. Use the football hold or place bub face down in your arms and gently jiggle him to help calm the crying.
9. Try Dr Karp’s ‘Milkshake move’
While you’ve probably tried rocking and bouncing your crying baby to help her settle down, you may not have the technique quite right. Dr Harvey Karp, the paediatrician behind The Happiest Baby on the Planet (and the man responsible for the brilliant Snoo), suggests, “You need to use fast, tiny motions to soothe a crying infant.”
Dubbed the ‘Jell-O Head Jiggle,’ or the ‘Milkshake Move,’ Dr. Karp’s swinging motion uses small quick movements to help mimic the womb and calm bub.
“To do it, always support the head/neck, keep your motions small; and move no more than one inch back and forth,” Dr. Karp explains.
Remember this one thing …
This is what all new mums need to remember, especially after listening to their newborn cry all day. There is no magic method that will work with every crying baby.
While all babies cry, some will cry a lot more than others. If your baby does fall into the latter category, it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong. It simply means your little one requires a little more than just a feed or a car ride to help him settle.
Stay strong mums – the cries will eventually cease and your bub will soon learn to settle.
We hope some (or at least one) of these techniques will give baby the comfort he needs and you the respite you deserve. Let us know which one worked for you.
Browse our archives for more baby solutions, including how to deal with cradle cap.