Calming techniques to soothe your fussy baby

Sister Lilian gives parents four tips on how to cope with crying

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Nursing specialist and midwife Sister Lilian gives four tips on how parents can calm their crying or fussy baby, beyond the basic checklist.

Babies may cry more than you expect – after all, it’s the only way they know how to communicate their needs, says Lilian.

Parents should go through a basic checklist of possible causes for each cry: Is baby hungry , do they have a wet nappy? are they feeling gassy? There are many reasons behind a baby’s cry, so what do you do when you have gone through your checklist but your baby is still being fussy?

“Over and above solving the basic, obvious causes, there are some tactics parents can use to help calm a restless or fussy baby - especially at sleep-time. Making them sleep shouldn’t be the primary goal; instead, it’s about helping baby to feel content, and meeting their inherrent need for security,” she explains.

She suggests the following four ways to help calm your baby:

1. Place your baby on the bed and give them a massage

From about six weeks onwards, your baby can have calming massages. Use gentle strokes on baby’s back to soothe and wind them down. You can use your usual baby lotion/cream for the massage – just make it as gentle and natural as possible. Make sure to rub the cream in your hands to warm it up (and your hands), before placing on baby’s body.

Gently rub their back and tummy area in a clockwise, circular motion. If your baby becomes even more fussy, discontinue the massage or try slightly gentler or firmer strokes; they may respond better to different pressure.

2. Carry your baby on your back

This is a good way to soothe your baby and keep them close while being able to move around and go about your day. It is important to take appropriate care and caution when carrying your baby on your back.

Make sure you use a soft but strong cloth as a carrying-wrap. The material must fully-support your baby from the bottom to the neck, and allow healthy hip position.

Also ensure that baby’s airway is clear. Using a safe front carrier is another good alternative – both methods give baby a sense of security and attachment to the parent.

3. Give them a warm bath

While some babies may kick up an even bigger fuss as soon as they are in the water, many find warm water soothing and babies often fall asleep more easily afterwards.

For babies who dislike bathtime, drape a warm, wet flannel over their tummy and brace their feet against the end of the bath. This usually allows them to feel safe and secure.

Bath time may also be playtime, making baby happy, which translates into less need to cry. Always maintain a steady grip on baby’s wiggling, wet body when in the bath.

Also keep in mind that bathing your baby too often, can dry out their skin.

4. Play soothing music

A repetitive melodious sound gives your baby something to focus on and may soon help them calm down. Choose music with a consistent low volume and soft tempo, as a faster tempo may overstimulate your baby. You can also play a classical song on loop or sleeptime lullabies.

“If your baby is still upset or cries more often than usual, ask yourself if he or she is having sufficient one-on-one time with you (or a close, loving caregiver), and if your anxiety could be communicating itself to your baby – these are very common causes.

“The best solution is increasing skin-to-skin time between the two of you – baby will be ecstatic and your parenting confidence will grow rapidly. If you’re still concerned, seek help from your midwife, clinic sister or doctor,” she concludes.