Calm a Crying Baby

By: Mel Hendrickson, BSN, RN, Director of Health Services, Penfield Children’s Center

Bringing home baby is an exciting and oftentimes nerve wracking experience. While you might feel over the moon about welcoming your newest bundle into his home, it’s very normal to also feel a bit apprehensive.

One of the most challenging times in a new parent’s life is when the baby is crying. Is he hungry? Does he need a diaper change? Is he sick? All questions we wish our baby could answer.

When your newborn baby starts crying and you know his basic needs are being met, try the 5 S’s approach: swaddle, side-stomach position, shushing, swing and suck.

  1. Swaddle: For 9 months, your baby was snuggly swaddled in the womb, warm and protected. To start the 5 S process, swaddle your baby in a thin baby blanket that is single-layered. To swaddle, lay the blanket flat on the ground and fold one corner over. Lay your baby on the blanket with the folded side near the back of his neck. Push your baby’s arms down to his sides and bring one corner of the blanket around his arm, tucking it gently under his side. Next, bring the bottom corner of the blanket up, tucking it under his shoulder. Finally, bring the remaining corner of the blanket around your baby’s body, pulling it snug. Your baby will look like he’s in a little cocoon. Make sure his face is not covered and he’s not too warm. A light cotton blanket will do the trick.
  1. Side-Stomach Position: Once your baby is swaddled, hold him on his side or upright over your shoulder if he prefers. Just remember, when putting your baby in his crib, always make sure to place him on his back as this is the safest position for baby to sleep.
  1. Shushing. One of the most calming sounds for babies is a “shushing” or white noise sound. In fact, your baby heard a similar sound in the womb from blood flowing through the body.
  1. Swing. As you most likely already found out, babies like to be held and many prefer to be rocked instead of held still. Make sure to support your baby’s head and neck and hold him close. Gently move around the room. It’s important to keep these movements small though and NEVER shake a baby out of frustration.
  1. Suck. Fussy babies often respond well to sucking on a pacifier. According to the Mayo Clinic, pacifiers also might reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Calming a crying baby is no easy task, but with the 5 S approach, your baby will instantly receive warmth and comfort from his parent or caregiver. Making this approach a routine is also helpful so that your baby learns what to expect when he becomes fussy.

What techniques have you tried to calm your little one?


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