One of your main concerns as a new parent is soothing your baby. Babies come into the world unfamiliar with the stimulation and stresses that can affect their sense of well-being. And since they lack little communication skills (beyond crying) they often become agitated or resort to vocalizing their distress. Since most babies either cry a lot or are at least somewhat high strung much of parenting comes down to how you can soothe your baby. It is important to keep in mind however that each baby is unique and different and what will work to soothe one baby can actually cause distress in another. Like much of parenting soothing your baby is trial and error. Begin by selecting what you feel would be calming to your baby-try it and if it works-great! If your selected soothing method does not work move on to soothing your baby with another method. Generally most parents will eventually stumble upon a method (or combination of methods) that will soothe their baby.
Methods for Soothing
So if you are the caretaker of an infant that needs soothing here are some tried and true methods for soothing your baby -
- Feed your baby - This is the most common reason your baby may be unhappy. Keep in mind that if she is hungry being unhappy is the only way she has to let you know.
- Burp her - Some babies seem highly sensitive to gas while others never seem to notice. If your baby is unhappy try burping her to restore her happy mood.
- Wrap her snuggly like a burrito (leaving her face uncovered)- This is sometimes referred to as swaddling. Some babies love to be tightly wrapped while others seem to hate it. This is a trial and error method that you can find out rather quickly which way your baby likes to be.
- Talk soothingly to her - Sometimes just hearing a soothing voice can help restore your baby's mood. This is also a great way to bond with your baby.
- Play music for her - This has a two-fold benefit-you can soothe your baby and introduce her to wonderful types of music at the same time.
- Change her position - Many babies are highly alert and become frustrated by being unable to move. Sometimes all they want is to move from back to tummy or vice versus. Also placing baby somewhere else in the home can soothe a baby. Try some time in an infant seat (safely buckled in of course) or place your baby in one of the pillows especially designed to prop her up.
- Change her diaper - Some babies are incredibly sensitive as to when their diapers are wet or soiled. If your baby suddenly becomes fussy check the diaper a quick change may just be the solution.
- Check to see if she is too warm or cool - Babies are also very perceptive to the temperature around them. New parents in their zeal to care for baby often overdress their infant which results in an unhappy baby. If you have a fussy baby be sure to check and see if they are to warm or to cold. Just do not check temperature by her hands or feet since it is normal for the baby's extremities to be cold. A good rule of thumb to follow is to only dress the baby in one more layer of clothes than you are wearing.
- Hold her - or put her down-Some babies become fussy and need soothing because they are lonely or bored. Other babies seek independence (even from infancy). If your baby seems distressed either pick her up or put her down depending on her mood that may be all you need to do.
- Put her to bed/sleep - Babies like almost everyone else become cranky and upset when they need sleep. A key to this may be the fact that your baby becomes difficult to soothe at a certain time. Try laying her down and getting her off to dreamland.
- Offer her a toy (for babies three months and over)- Boredom again plays a part when baby's suddenly become cranky. Soothing an infant can be as simple as offering them a toy. Just make sure whatever toy you give your baby does not have small parts that can become a choking hazard.
- Take her outside - For babies who are constantly cranky a change of scenery can help. Child care experts theorize that some babies prefer a higher level of stimulation if your baby seem unhappy try taking her outside to distract her and provide some extra stimulation.
- Take her away from an over stimulating environment (for some babies, this can be lots of people or noise)- Other babies can easily become over stimulated if they are surrounded by lots of people or noise. Taking this baby into a quiet and calm environment can help her center and soothe herself.
- Get comfortable holding her (some people like to hold a baby laying on her back along their thighs with her head at their knees, so they can make good eye contact)- Babies are experts at determining who feels comfortable with them and who does not. Practice holding your baby in the way that is most comfortable for both of you. This will help reduce her stress as she feels that you are comfortable holding her. In addition to this you want to focus on calming yourself and relaxing your breathing. This is especially helpful if you are the parent of a fussy infant who are you trying to soothe a lot. If you radiate calm you can help your baby pick up on it with your breathing and body language.
- Think about how you might want people to respond when you are crying (do you like being jiggled, bounced or plugged up when you are crying?)- If you are unsure as to how to soothe your baby you may want to think about what you would want. After all this child is yours and just might share the same preferences when it comes to being soothed.
- Stay close - Sometimes the most soothing thing you can do is just stay close to your baby. Your very presence can act like a calming tonic for a baby who is dealing with a world that she largely does not understand.
- Make eye contact - One of the first things a newborn focuses on is the face of her mother. Newborns have been shown to prefer faces and eyes to any other image shown them. If your baby is upset simply by bringing your face close and making eye contact you may be able to soothe her.
- Use your voice to let her know you are present and that you will stay with her while she cries - Speaking in soothing tones to your baby can go a long way toward soothing her. While some people may feel foolish talking to a baby research has shown that infants respond to tone of voice and become quieter and calmer after being spoken to.
- Give your baby something to suck on - There are times when your baby just needs to suck on something. This is the time to offer her a pacifier. Keep in mind though that some babies love the pacifier while others detest them. If your normally loving the pacifier baby keeps pushing it out that is not the soothing method to use right now.
- Run a vacuum cleaner - Not only does this give you a chance to clean your house, but it also can help to calm your baby. A running washer or dryer can also works wonders. It is advised that you do not put the baby right next to them, but close enough to where he or she can hear the washer or dryer running. In addition the sound of running water also helps soothe the baby.
- Use a baby swing or vibrating bouncy seat - The swinging motion of the swing or the vibrating motion of the bouncy seat will help soothe your baby if she likes it. Again keep in mind that some babies love the constant sense of motion while others simply hate it and will become more upset.