Soothing your baby is one of the most gratifying experiences of parenthood. Here are some ideas for what you can do to help them.
Young babies nurse more often than many parents expect, so don’t hesitate to offer the breast. Some babies also need extra sucking, and will nurse for comfort even if they aren’t very hungry—you can offer the less full breast, help him find his thumb or (once breastfeeding is well established) try a pacifier.
Try rocking, walking, baby swings or car rides. Experiment with different intensities: A mellow baby may drift off to sleep while having his back patted, while a more high-energy baby might need your special walk with a jiggle every other step.
In the womb, your baby’s body was held snugly. Some newborns calm more easily in the close “hug” of a baby carrier, or swaddled in a large receiving blanket. Gentle massage or simply lying skin-to-skin can also be comforting.
Sing softly to your baby—he heard your voice before his birth. He also heard lots of rhythmic background noise, which may be why white noise or a steady “shush” sound calms some babies.
Is he bored? Try something new to look at or listen to, a walk outside or a warm bath.
Peace and quiet
A tired baby might also be overstimulated, making it hard for him to wind down. Try taking him to a darkened, quiet room. It may help to rock, nurse or hold him gently—or he may fall asleep quickest if you just put him to bed.
If nothing works
Sometimes, all your best efforts will fail. Nothing is more upsetting than an inconsolable baby! It’s normal to feel frustrated, resentful, helpless or guilty—you may end up crying yourself. If you can take a break and have someone else take a shift with the baby, you may come back with renewed energy. Try to remember that even if you can’t “make it all better,” you can help your baby feel safe and loved.
A version of this article appeared in our April 2015 issue with the headline, “Your top 10 most googled parenting questions,” p.67