There is nothing worse than hearing your baby cry, even if they are in your arms at the time. Your baby is the most important person in your world, and you’d do anything to soothe their tears. Any parents will remember the feeling of helplessness they experience when holding a crying baby.
how to make a crying baby cry less
For new parents especially, the sound of their baby’s cries can cause anxiety and alarm. Babies cry for so many reasons – from discomfort to hunger and everything in between. As you get to know your baby, though, you will figure out the cues and how to soothe the tears and help baby stop crying.
If you’d like to learn more about the reasons why babies cry, look at our article Baby Crying? 10 Reasons Why Babies Cry.
How much do newborn babies cry?
Did you know newborn babies cry for about 25 minutes per day, on average? It tends to feel much longer if you’re the one caring for the crying baby. By week five, the time babies cry increases to about 40 minutes a day. These crying times were published in a study that used recording devices to record accurately the time babies spent crying. When parents are asked to note down how long their babies cry, they usually give much higher estimates; no doubt, this is because it feels so much longer when you are faced with crying babies who cannot be soothed.
The best way to soothe your baby’s tears is to figure out what’s making him cry and then find a solution. Of course, when a baby is crying you can’t always do something to stop it. Sometimes all you can do is hold him and be there while your baby cries. That isn’t much fun for you but it will help your baby to feel comforted in a time of need. Think of yourself as an emotional support device and cuddle your baby through the tears.
If the sound of a crying baby breaks your heart, you’re probably keen to hear how you can reduce the time your baby spends crying. Although you can’t always be sure your baby will stop crying, there are changes you can make that might mean your baby cries less frequently. Your baby will change throughout the day; you might have a contented baby in the afternoon and a fussy baby in the ‘witching hour’. Crying babies are normal but it can be tough to hear a baby’s crying, especially when you’re sleep-deprived.
Here are some things you can do to reduce a baby’s crying time.
A Crying Baby Tips #1. Wear your baby
It has long been known that babies are happiest when in their parents’ arms. If you consider the life of many babies, a lot of time is spent out of their parents’ arms. They might be in a pram, cot or car seat for large chunks of time. Using a wrap, sling or carrier to hold your baby can offer him some valuable time close to your body. Your baby might fall asleep in the carrier and enjoy a contact nap without trapping you on the sofa.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that ‘supplemental carrying modifies “normal” crying by reducing the duration and altering the typical pattern of a crying baby in the first 3 months of life. The relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose to crying and colic in normal infants’.
The study is fairly old, so we can assume it is a little ‘grey and wrinkled’ but that doesn’t mean we should discount its findings. The researchers found that babies who were held for at least three hours per day cried less; if you’re looking for ways to keep your babies contented, try carrying and holding them.
Time spent in a wrap or sling counts as carrying time, so you can keep your arms free for other things. Your baby will feel comfort from your heartbeat, smell and touch as you go about your daily routine. Babywearing is perfect when you have older children because it means you can keep your baby close while having your hands free to care for your older children.
There are so many fantastic reasons to give babywearing a try.
For more information, look at BellyBelly’s article Babywearing |10 Benefits of Wearing Your Baby.
A Crying Baby Tips #2. Co-sleep with your baby
Keeping your baby close to you at nighttime can help him to feel safe and secure when he wakes during the night. Sleeping near your baby allows you to be more responsive during nighttime waking. The closer you are, the easier you’ll hear your baby’s cries and the quicker you’ll be able to respond. The sooner you respond to your baby’s cries, the easier it is likely to be to soothe him.
If you’re interested in co-sleeping, you might like to read our article Co-Sleeping – 8 Benefits of Bed Sharing With Baby.
Many co-sleeping parents claim bed-sharing has helped them sleep better, too. If you spend half the night trying to soothe your baby back to sleep, it might be time to give co-sleeping a go. One of the benefits of keeping your baby close at nighttime is that you don’t need to get out of bed to soothe him back to sleep. Many mamas find this helps them get back to sleep because they haven’t had to walk around a cool house in the middle of the night.
The babies benefit too; they wake knowing a parent is close and this is a soothing thought. Babies might be comforted by the fact that they are not alone; they can see you when they wake up, and know that you are able to respond to them quickly. Due to their vulnerability, babies don’t like being alone and feel much happier when with a parent or caregiver.
Baby sleep expert, Professor James McKenna, shares his expertise in BellyBelly’s article Sleeping With Baby – 13 Ways to Prevent SIDS.
A Crying Baby Tips #3. Baby Massage
Baby massage classes have become increasingly popular in recent years and many local health services now promote this technique to new parents. Baby massage is a fantastic way to bond with your new baby and learn to interpret cues. Many new parents learn how babies communicate at baby massage and other postpartum baby care classes.
Baby massage is a brilliant tool for helping your baby relax. It might also help if used before bedtime, to encourage sleepiness. Many parents have a daily massage routine after a warm bath, to help their baby relax before bed. Baby massage moves can even be used to ease tummy troubles in grumbly babies.
A research review carried out in 2018 found ‘some evidence suggestive of improved mother-infant interaction, sleep and relaxation, reduced crying and a beneficial impact on a number of hormones controlling stress’.
If baby massage can reduce infant crying, it’s definitely worth learning this technique to use at home. Look for local baby massage classes where a trained practitioner will teach you massage techniques that are safe to use on your baby. These classes are also an ideal way to meet other new parents, so you can build a social circle of parents who know what you’re going through.
A Crying Baby Tips #4. Breastfeed
This is perhaps a controversial one. Breastfed babies don’t cry less; in fact, one study found they cry more. Although many media outlets ran this as an anti-breastfeeding story, the study authors never intended it this way. The study authors concluded: ‘Breast and mixed-fed infants were rated by their mothers as having more challenging temperaments in all three dimensions; particular subscales included greater distress, less smiling, laughing and vocalisation, and lower soothability’.
These findings were not intended to put women off breastfeeding. In fact, they were there to inform breastfeeding mothers that infant crying is normal and expected. Although breastfed babies might cry more often, you’ll also have a useful tool in your arsenal for soothing their upset. Babies find it soothing to breastfeed; not only is the act of sucking soothing but breast milk contains hormones that soothe your baby (and you).
Breast milk has pain-killing properties, too, so you can use it to offer pain relief to your baby or toddler after a minor injury. Many breastfeeding mamas love how they can use breastfeeding as a way to soothe their babies after virtually any upset.
A Crying Baby Tips #5. Skin-to-skin
Skin-to-skin is the perfect way to soothe your baby and reduce crying time. Skin-to-skin is often promoted for bonding immediately after birth, and both parents are usually encouraged to hold their baby skin-to-skin during the early hours of life.
One study compared the crying time of babies who lay in a cot next to their fathers with babies who had skin-to-skin time with their fathers during the first two hours of life; the skin-to-skin babies were found to cry less. The researchers concluded: ‘The infants in the skin-to-skin group were comforted; that is, they stopped crying, became calmer, and reached a drowsy state earlier than the infants in the cot group’.
The benefits of skin-to-skin contact last much longer than the immediate postpartum period. Although many people abandon skin-to-skin contact in the days following the birth, there are lots of benefits in keeping up this behavior.
A 2022 study investigated the impact of daily skin-to-skin contact on five-week-old infants. The researchers found that daily skin-to-skin contact reduces crying time and might even have a positive impact on sleep duration.
Skin-to-skin contact promotes bonding, encourages breastfeeding and can reduce crying. It’s an easy thing to do and something many new parents do without thinking. Schedule some skin-to-skin time each day, so your baby can enjoy the benefits of this simple show of parental affection.
When you feel you can’t cope
If it feels like your baby never stops crying, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed, tired and drained. It’s tough when you have a crying baby, no matter how experienced or confident you are as a parent. For brand new parents in particular, it can knock their confidence if they can’t stop their baby from crying. Some babies cry a lot, and that can take its toll on the parents.
Here are some steps you must take if you feel you can’t cope with a crying baby:
Take a break
It’s okay to take a break; in fact, sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for your baby. Put your baby in a safe place and walk out of the room. Go and have a cup of tea in peace or simply take five minutes to get away from the crying. Breathe deeply, try to regulate your emotions and calm yourself down. When the five minutes is over, you can go back and resume cuddling your baby.
Remember, the aim is to help your baby
If you think the aim of the game is to stop the crying, you’re going to feel rubbish if you can’t. Your job isn’t to stop your baby crying; sometimes it isn’t possible. Your job is to be there for your baby. Just being there while your baby cries might help your baby calm down. It might not stop your baby’s tears but it will help him to know he’s not alone.
If this seems at odds with the point above, it’s not. Your being there while your baby cries makes a big difference. If you have reached the point where you need to get away from a crying baby, though, there’s nothing wrong with leaving your baby to cry alone for five minutes. You have to keep yourself functioning so you can care for your baby. Don’t put yourself last; your baby suffers when you don’t take care of yourself.
Reach out for help
When you have a baby, you have lots of people offering help. Take them up on their offers of help. Ask a friend to take your baby out for a walk so you can get a break from the crying. Ask your mother to watch the baby for an hour so you can take a bath. Whatever you need, ask for the help to do it. Parenthood is tough and having support will make it much easier for you and your baby. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Seek medical help
Contact your healthcare providers for support. They might be able to advise you on how to soothe your baby or how to look after yourself through all the crying. They might even be able to refer you to local services that offer in-person support during difficult times.