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30Nov 13

Soothing a crying baby

As a first-time parent, one of the first things you will have to learn is how to soothe your baby when he or she is crying. The first step to soothing a crying baby is to find out why he or she is crying. It can be a challenge, like learning another language!

For new parents, trial and error is a good way to start until you learn to distinguish between cries. Your baby may cry because he or she is hungry, tired, bored, too hot, too cold, overstimulated, has a dirty nappy, has wind, or simply wants a cuddle. Depending on the reason, here are some ways to comfort them.

The ins and outs of soothing a crying baby

The ins and outs of soothing a crying baby

Suckling and singing

The action of suckling can be soothing for your baby. If you are breast-feeding, try letting your baby suckle your breast, or if you are bottle-feeding, give them a sterilised dummy. Do not dip it in anything sweet as this can cause tooth decay. Some babies may suck their thumb to self-soothe, while others may want to suck their parents fingers’. This is perfectly fine, though you risk being bitten once your baby’s teeth begin to grow in. When teething, try giving your child a teething ring or a chilled, damp face cloth to nibble on.

If that doesn’t work, you can try holding your baby close to you while speaking or singing to them, swaying back and forth, or moving about. You can also try placing your baby in a pram and walking back and forth, or taking them for a drive in the car. But don’t do this every day, lest your baby be unable to fall asleep without the hum of an engine!

Distractions

Try to find something that will distract their attention and snap them out of the crying spell, such as music, television, a rattle or a mobile above their cot. Stroking your baby on the back firmly and rhythmically is also an effective way to calm them down. You can also try giving them a massage with baby oil or olive oil, or giving them a warm bath to calm them down.

For babies with wind, gently pat them on the back to burp them while they are over your shoulder, sitting up on your lap, or face-down on your lap.

If your baby cries at bedtime, you may wish to try letting them cry it out so that they learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. In some instances, it’s better not to soothe your crying baby so as not to reward the behaviour, especially as they grow older. Above all, trust your instincts and do what feels right to you.

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