How to Stop a Baby From Crying
It is frustrating enough for the parents when an infant won’t stop crying, so for a babysitter with far less experience, it can actually bring her to tears. If you are a babysitter, nanny, or other childcare provider who often cares for infants, or even if you are a new parent, here is a list of possible reasons why baby won’t stop crying and what to do to stop baby from crying:
When you are dealing with a crying baby, look at the time. Is it anywhere near feeding time? If it is within half an hour, try the bottle. Baby’s schedules change so often as they grow that their needs can actually change overnight.
Crying babies are usually trying to tell you something and it could be something as simple as “I am tired.” If it is not anywhere near feeding time, check to see if it could be close to nap time. If so, you could try rocking the baby for a few minutes and putting him down for a nap.
Is the baby’s diaper wet or soiled? If so, change it, even if the parent said the baby should not need her diaper changed until after her nap. This is not always something that can be predicted!
A crying baby might just need to burp. Hold the baby upright against your chest with his head just above your shoulder and pat his back gently. Trapped gas is very painful for a baby, but once it is released the baby usually quiets down immediately. Another position that may help baby to release gas is to lay him across your lap and rub his back.
Try distracting a crying baby by blowing raspberries, making silly sounds, dancing around, or making funny faces.
Sometimes babies just want to be held. If the baby is in an exersaucer, bouncy seat, or swing, try picking her up and holding her.
If baby was lying on the floor or in a stationary device, try moving him to a vibrating chair or swing. Try the swing at different speeds if it has several settings, to see if he has a preference.
Lots of babies like motion when they are being held. Try bouncing her very gently by bending your knees slightly and straightening them while holding her, or walk around with her and pat her pack. Occasionally, you may need to combine all of these by holding the baby upright, walking around, very gently bouncing her and patting her back. Try adding humming or singing to her as well.
Some babies want to be held but do not want to be cradled or have their face in your shoulder. Many babies prefer to be held facing outward from your body. Try holding the baby with his back against your chest or stomach, one arm around his torso and the other supporting his bottom through his legs. Babies are curious and want to see everything! A crying baby may just be bored. (Warning – this is NOT an appropriate position to hold very young infants that still need their head supported.)
Does baby use a pacifier? Some babies just have a fussy time of day, when not much makes them happy and the baby won’t stop crying even after you have tried all of the suggestions above. If this is the case, hopefully the parents have left you with some ideas of what to do to make baby happy or strategies for dealing with it. If the baby uses a pacifier, this may be all it takes to quiet her down.
Many babies just go through what is called a “strange period” where they cry and scream if anyone other than the immediate family or a very familiar person tries to hold them or talk to them. In this case, if the baby has older siblings, you may want to employ their help by asking them to talk to the baby or to play nearby so the baby can hear and/or see them.
While a crying baby may be a bored baby, he may also be an overstimulated baby. If the baby has a “sound machine” or “white noise machine” try rocking him or holding him in the room with the machine turned on and the lights dimmed. If he does not have a sound machine, a fan, vacuum, washing machine or dryer, or dishwasher will work just as well.
If the baby is a newborn, you could try swaddling her to see if that helps. Many newborns like the secure feeling of being wrapped up warm and snug. Experts say it reminds them of being in the womb.
Parents usually know when their baby is teething. Hopefully if this is the case, the parents have left you with teething rings and other paraphernalia for teething babies.
Sometimes when a baby won’t stop crying it is simply because he is uncomfortable. Touch the back of the baby’s neck to see if he is too hot or too cold. Then add or remove a layer of clothes accordingly.
Try removing all of baby’s clothes to see if perhaps her diaper is too tight or clothes may be digging into her or irritating her skin. If you are experienced with bathing babies, give him a warm soothing bath.
A ride in the car or a ride in the stroller is calming to many babies. It may take a few minutes for a crying baby to quiet down and she may start to cry again whenever the car or stroller stops, but most babies settle down after a little while.
Try a bottle even if it is not anywhere near feeding time. Most babies will not always be on an exact schedule for eating. If they ate a little more at their last feeding then they might not eat again for a while past their next scheduled feeding, and if they did not eat enough then they may be hungry sooner.
Could baby be ill? Check the baby’s temperature to see if it is above normal and call the parents or pediatrician if you are concerned.
When dealing with a crying baby, remember to try to “keep your cool.” Babies can often sense when you are upset or stressed which can make the baby cry even more. Keep trying the suggestions above until the baby stops crying or the parents come home! NEVER shake a baby. If you are the parent and have tried all the suggestions above, take turns with your spouse holding the baby to help prevent either one of you from getting too upset.
If you find yourself getting really upset, frustrated, and angry because the baby won’t stop crying and you have tried all the suggestions above, then try putting the baby in her crib where she is safe, and step out of the room for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths and think about all the things you have tried to be sure you have not missed anything.
If you are the babysitter and have tried everything and feel like you are losing your patience, give the parents a call. They may be able to give you other suggestions over the phone if they know of something in particular that usually quiets their baby or makes him happy. If you are unable to soothe the crying baby, you may ask the parents to come home as a last resort. But, often times the baby will quiet down by the time the parents get back depending on how far away they are.
The most important thing you can do when the baby will not stop crying is to stay calm yourself and remind yourself that the baby will not cry forever
Written By Lisa McLellan
Award-winning researcher/author with superb skills; editor of books and articles. Former in-house Assistant Editor and Proofreader of a peer-reviewed family linguistic journal. I have also edited or ghostwritten books and chapters published nationwide. Skilled in research, editing and writing baby and family subject materials and literature. Ph.D. with sixteen years of university teaching experience. Check me out at Google