How to Soothe a Fussy Baby: Tips for Tired Parents

how to soothe a fussy baby

From playing soothing sounds to swaddling, here are 11 techniques for how to soothe a fussy baby. 

Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. 

Well, how do you sleep standing, walking, and bouncing a fussy baby?

You’ve had a little cuddle worm for a few weeks, and suddenly he has transformed into a 24/7 crying ball of exhaustion. 

He won’t sleep on his back, won’t sleep in the bassinet, and won’t fall asleep on the swing. He only sleeps when he’s on top of you. 

Even if he falls asleep, he’s out only for a tiny bit of time before he’s up again and starts being fussy.

Don’t despair! It’s nothing out of the ordinary, and you’re doing everything right.

11 Tips for Soothing Your Fussy Baby

Try to put yourself in your baby’s little shoes. You are everything your little one has known for nine months. 

He’s accustomed to your smell, voice, warmth, and heartbeat. Suddenly, he finds himself alone in a bassinet, and mom is nowhere to be found. Your baby doesn’t even know if you’ll ever come back. 

What’s more, he’s going through his first big change in development since he was brought to life. It’s the first time he starts looking around and seeing the world around him. 

There are bright lights, unfamiliar faces, and noise. The universe makes no sense to him, and as a result, he feels scared, confused, and irritated.

But there are some techniques you can apply to help him feel less scared, confused, and irritated.

Here are 11 of them:

Do “The Hold”

One calming technique that deserves mention is Dr. Robert Hamilton’s approach, called “The Hold.” 

It’s a simple technique for how to calm a fussy baby in seconds. The tutorial has become a blockbuster on YouTube, winning millions of views in just a few days.

In short, this is how the technique works:

  • Fold your baby’s arms across his chest.
  • Gently secure his arms with your non-dominant hand.
  • Use your other hand to gently cradle his diaper-area.
  • Hold him at a 45-degree angle and gently shake him, or as the doctor calls it, “shake his little booty.”

Warm the bassinet and make it smell like mom

Babies like the warmth of their parents. That’s why they’re such big fans of skin-to-skin contact.

They can’t adjust to temperature changes as well as adults. They can lose heat rapidly, nearly four times faster than an adult.

With that being said, cold may be one of the reasons why your baby is so fussy.

To make sure he’s always warm, try preheating the crib with a hot water bottle or heating pad before placing him down. Avoid using a blanket as it’s not safe, and it can lead to death due to SIDS. 

how to calm a fussy baby

Swaddle him in a baby blanket

Swaddling a newborn has helped many parents keep their babies warm and secure. 

Especially when it comes to fussy babies, being snuggly wrapped means sleeping more soundly throughout the night. 

You can swaddle your baby in a few simple steps. Here’s how.

Luckily for you, there are many products nowadays that help you hack the art of swaddling with Velcro tabs and zippers.

Play soothing white noise

When the baby was in your tummy, there was constant white noise. 

As a result, when they’re out of the womb, babies find white noise relaxing and soothing. 

So, why not try to create a womb-like sleep environment for him at your home?

You can easily do so by getting a sound machine and playing some white noise.

What’s more, a white noise machine can block out any noises coming from the inside or outside the home.

Win-win!

Wear your baby and walk around

Babies love close contact and the rhythm of your steps. That’s why babywearing is another technique that can do a fine job at calming your fussy newborn. 

Place your little one in a front-pack carrier or a sling, and get two free hands for doing anything else. 

Even if he seems like he doesn’t enjoy it first, don’t give up. Babies take some time to get used to new things.

how to deal with a fussy baby

Sing him a song

Here’s another fun fact: a baby prefers its mother’s voice to those of strangers. The reason for this is quite logical: while the baby is still inside the womb, his developing auditory pathways sense the sounds and vibrations of its mother.

So, the next time you have a fussy baby on your hands, try singing him a song. It doesn’t matter if you’re singing off-key, an 80’s track, or a Beyonce song. 

The important thing is to let your baby know that you’re there next to him. You’ll be surprised how quickly he’ll be comforted by the sound of your voice. 

Rock him to sleep

According to Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, human babies spend too little time in the womb to be somewhat developmentally independent once they’re born. In fact, babies should be in the womb for at least another 18 months.

As a result, what parents should do to keep them calm is to simulate a womb-like environment. One of the best ways of doing so is by rocking them to sleep.

You have plenty of options to choose from, from a rocking chair and gliders to vibrating bouncy seats and motorized baby swings. 

However, make sure not to get your little one too used to the rocking motion to fall asleep. Instead, what you should do is let him get drowsy and then transfer him to his crib. 

Give him a warm bath and belly rubs

Bathing your baby in a tub of warm water can soothe a crying infant. Your touch, the warm water, and the change of scenery are what calms him down.

Even better if you take a bath with him. 

Bonus points if you introduce a little aromatherapy. Add a few drops of lavender oil to the water and enjoy the calm and relaxing ambiance. 

Keep your little one entertained

Experts believe that babies can get bored if their caregivers don’t interact with them during their wakeful hours. They’re constantly exploring and looking to find new information about the world. And when they can’t find anything new to discover, they’ll get fussy.

Entertaining your little one can be as simple as talking to him as you’re doing activities around the house. You can also make silly noises, animated expressions, or play with him on the floor. 

Some babies like when you read to them, sing them a song, or dance with them. 

Wearing your baby while you walk around is another great way to keep him entertained. 

If that doesn’t help, try going outside for some fresh air. The change in light, air, and temperature, and the introduction of new sights, sounds, and smells are likely to get him in a better mood. 

Make sure you meet all of your baby’s comfort needs

Babies have many needs. They can become fussy if you don’t meet their demands. 

For example, your infant may be hungry, have a wet diaper, feel cold, or his clothes may be too tight. Sometimes, he’s just feeling gassy.

So, the next time your little one gets fussy, make sure he’s feeling his best. 

Teach him to self-soothe

Self-soothing involves teaching your little one to put himself to sleep.

It’s a critical skill that will prepare him for a lifetime of sound sleep and independence in the long run. 

Teaching your baby how to self-soothe ensures that you, too, will get a night of sound sleep and wake up all refreshed and in a better mood.

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