Tips for soothing your baby

by Kaiser Permanente |
Young family with baby boy.

Your baby communicates through crying. Every time you answer your baby’s cry, you teach them that they can trust you. Your baby might cry for up to 3 hours a day in the first few weeks after birth. This decreases after the first 2 or 3 months and your baby adjusts to life outside the womb.

Babies cry for all sorts of reasons. Over time, you’ll be able to recognize your baby’s cry and get an idea of what they need.

Healthy babies cry if they are:

  • Bored or lonely
  • Hungry
  • Sick
  • Too hot or cold
  • Overstimulated
  • Overtired
  • Uncomfortable
  • Unhappy

Crying is a very normal part of having a baby, but it can still be stressful for you. It helps to quickly respond when your baby is upset or fussy to help them calm down faster. Try these techniques:

  • Bounce your baby gently on an exercise ball while you hold them
  • Burp your baby, especially if they’ve just finished eating
  • Change your baby’s diaper if it’s dirty
  • Gently stroke your baby’s skin
  • Give your baby a warm bath
  • Feed your baby
  • Have skin-to-skin contact
  • Lay your baby on their side, holding them like a football
  • Rock your baby
  • Show your baby themselves in a mirror
  • Swaddle your baby
  • Take a drive in your car
  • Use repetitive sounds or play white noise
  • Use gentle massage to help your baby relax
  • Walk around holding your baby

Tips to help your baby sleep

Being tired is a common reason babies cry. As your baby learns the difference between day and night, it’s likely they’ll sleep between 13 and 14 hours a day, often with longer stretches of sleep during the daytime. Start your baby off right by getting at least 1 hour of skin-to-skin contact after giving birth. This, along with breastfeeding, helps your baby sleep better. It can also lower your baby’s risk for sudden unexplained infant death (SUID).

No one should smoke near your infant. Your baby should only sleep in their own safe, separate sleeping space, typically a crib or bassinet. The mattress should fit snugly into the crib. Make sure the sheets you use are tight around the mattress. Don’t use bumpers or sleep positioners and keep items like stuffed toys out of the bed.

When you lay your baby down to sleep, place them on their back. To prevent overheating, use a fan in your baby’s room. Check them to be sure they’re not sweating while they sleep, and do not over bundle them. A single blanket or sleep sack is often enough.

If you breastfeed, you can offer your baby a pacifier after about 4 weeks. This can help soothe them as they drift off to sleep.

Finally, it’s best if baby stays in your room, in their own sleeping space, for at least the first 6 months of life. This helps you keep your eye on them overnight, and may help prevent SUID as well.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.