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5 tips for calming a fussy baby

5 tips for calming a fussy baby


BabyCenter Featured Expert

posted in Parenting

By Dr. Smita Malhotra

The very first time my baby cried, I was overwhelmed with excitement as it marked her first moments of life. But as time went by, the constant crying turned my excitement into exhaustion as I searched for ways to calm my fussy, crying baby.

As both a mom and a pediatrician, the most common question I get from parents during the newborn period is “How do I make my baby stop crying?” It’s difficult to hear your child cry, and it wears on you as a parent.

In my previous post in this two-part series, I shared some of the medical reasons why babies can be fussy, including colic, cow’s milk allergy, and lactose intolerance. Once you have ruled out any of these causes with your pediatrician, and made sure that your baby has been fed and changed, here are a few tricks that might help soothe them.

1. Wrap them up

One of the most useful skills I learned in my pediatric residency was how to swaddle babies. When babies first enter the world, they lose the comfort of their mother’s womb. Swaddling mimics that warm, cozy environment they became so used to in nine months. Once you have learned how to swaddle your baby the right way so they’re not startling themselves, it can work like pure soothing magic!

how to calm a fussy baby

2. Wear your baby

When I talk about wearing your baby I am referring to the common practice of carrying your baby close to your body in a sling or a baby carrier. I instantly fell in love with babywearing when I saw how it transformed my child from an irritable baby to a content one. And it only makes sense, as that was what she had known in the womb. As soon as she felt the warmth of being next to me, she was comforted.

3. Sway with your baby

When your baby was in the womb, he or she jiggled, wiggled, and swayed about as you went through your daily movement and routine. In the same way, swaying gently with your baby or using a swing that is safe and secure, can work wonders to calm them down. It’s the gentle repetitive movement that can help soothe them to sleep.

4. Use white noise

Contrary to popular belief, babies don’t need quiet to go to sleep. In the womb, they spent months listening to the loud sounds of blood flowing all around them. A great way to imitate those sounds is through white noise. I bought a white noise machine when my first daughter was born and it was so calming to both my daughter and I that I still use it to go to sleep! But you don’t have to go to the store — a simple search on your phone will pull up a white noise app for you.

5. Go outside

Sometimes when all else fails, getting out of the house is the best option. I know it can seem daunting as a new parent to even take a shower, let alone leave the house, but a simple change in environment can help both your child’s mood and yours.

One final thing to remember is that babies will change from month to month and even day to day. So what worked in the past may stop working, because, like all of us, babies are human!

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, the best thing you can do for your baby is to ask for help from family, friends, and your pediatrician. When we make a conscious effort to take care of our own well-being, we improve the lives of our children as well.


Dr. Smita Malhotra is a mother, pediatrician, writer and speaker who completed her pediatric residency and chief residency in New York City. Together with her husband, Dr. Gilberto Bultron, she founded Mindful Pediatric Gastroenterology, a practice that helps to heal the whole child and family by combining traditional medicine with alternative therapies such as mindfulness, meditation, acupuncture and yoga. She is a strong advocate for providing children with the tools to cope through the peaks and valleys of their lives and empowering them to take charge of their own health and nutrition. Dr. Malhotra is a member of The Wellness Advisory Panel for Plum Organics. She lives in southern California with her husband and two daughters.

This post is sponsored by Plum Organics.

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