Soothing a crying baby

Ways to sooth a crying babyDoes your baby need soothing and calming down but you sometimes just don’t know where to start? Experts say that it is a good idea not to wait until your baby is actually crying to start soothing them as prevention can go a long way. Studies have shown that parents who increased their carrying and holding had babies that cried and fussed less than the babies of parents who just did the usual amount of carrying.

In the early weeks if you pick up your baby more often and carry them around more, stroking them, gently patting them and singing to them it can really help. The more you do these things early on, the more likely it is you will be able to calm your baby more easily. If bedtimes/night time are tricky for you and the crying is focused then we have a helpful series of videos on Baby Sleep that will help.

Many parents have said that having a list of things to try gives them something to do and reduces the feeling of helplessness even if it doesn’t always work. Below is a list of tried and tested methods that will help. However be aware that some things work some of the time but nothing works all of the time! Just trust your instincts.  Take a look at these videos too for how other parents have coped with their baby’s crying.

Soothing your baby

Consoling your baby

Signs your baby is self soothing

Baby ClinicChat about sleep with our expert Maggie and other mums in the Baby Clinic.

Things you can do to soothe your baby

• Massage
• Warmth
• Cuddles
• Closeness and skin to skin contact
• Changing position and giving them a different view to look at
• Soothing music
• Being comforted if upset
• Soft toys
• Feeding them
• Fleecy fabric
• Calm atmosphere
• Reducing stimulation
• Gentle handling
• Keeping lights low
• Swaddling
• Putting them in a sling
• Sucking
• Shhhh noise
• Rocking or swaying
• Soothing words and tone of voice
• Rhythms repeated over and over in a rhythmic way such as sounds, touch, movement, musical patterns.
• Rocking them in a pram or cradle, or taking them on a car or bus ride.
• Repeating things can be soothing, anything repeated can work it can be sights, sounds, touches or smells. Songs and lullabies have repeated parts as it is known to be calming.
• Taking them to a quiet place with less noise, fewer people and less stimulation
• Sometimes going out for a walk and getting outside can make it seem better and help you calm down. The noise is often not so bad outdoors rather than reverberating off the walls at home. The wind blowing leaves can mesmerise a baby!

Calm yourself – it is hard to calm a baby when you are upset and stressed. Take a break, put them down in a safe place. Close the door and do something for a few minutes to calm yourself, make a cup of tea, listen to music, put on the TV or radio, take deep breaths and count to 10, focus on feeling calm. Then when you are feeling calmer go back and try again. Phone a friend or relative or come and chat to us in the Channel Mum Support Group. Remember you are not alone, we’re here for you.

Steps to try in consoling your baby

Babies don’t always need to be picked up: sometimes just seeing your face can help them calm and settle. If trying to settle a baby in the cot or Moses Basket try this approach first to see if they can calm down.
• Look at baby – let them see your face
• Look at and talk softly to baby
• Look at, talk and put a hand gently on their tummy
• Look at, talk, hold their arms across their chest gently – this helps them to feel secure
• Look at, talk, pick up & hold calmly
• Look at, talk, hold & rock calmly
• Look at, talk, swaddle (see safe swaddling tips below) with hands to mouth, rock calmly
• Look at, talk, swaddle, rock calmly, give finger to suck or a dummy

You might start to notice the self-consoling behaviours your baby does such as
• Moving the hands to the mouth
• Sucking on fingers, fist, or tongue
• Paying attention to voices or faces around them
• Changing position

Other factsheets in this series

Safe sleeping for babies

Your baby’s average sleep needs

Sleep and awake states of your baby

What are your baby’s signs of tiredness?

Your baby’s sleep cycles

The effect food can have on your baby’s sleep

Sleep aids that might help settle your baby

Swaddling your baby

Bedtime routines

Using the ‘Gradual Retreat’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Controlled Checking’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Kissing Game’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Pick Up, Put Down’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Wake to Sleep’ sleep training method

You might be interested in

The Channel Mum sleep guide

How to sooth a crying baby

Controlled Crying



Health Visitor approved advice

This guide has been checked and approved by our in-house Health Visitor, Maggie Fisher in September 2018.