How to Stop a Baby From Crying

By Carlos Portocarrero on 30 September 2010 (Updated 23 September 2011) 6 comments
Photo: Pedro Klien

Being a baby sucks: all you do is eat, sleep, poop, and watch helplessly as someone changes your diaper over and over again.

How humiliating.

So it's understandable that a baby would scream its head off whenever it gets tired, hungry, or bored.

Doctors and friends (and everyone else with an opinion) all say that "the baby needs to cry," but that's no consolation at the end of a long day when baby is screaming her pretty little head off and mommy and daddy have had enough. (See also: What a New Baby Really Needs)

If a diaper change, feeding, and a nap don't solve the crisis, then it's time to bring in the big guns.

The most effective technique I've found to calm a baby comes from one Dr. Karp and his book, The Happiest Baby in the Block. In it, Dr. Karp points out that babies are born prematurely and still need to develop outside the womb for a "fourth trimester."

During these three months, the secret to calming a baby is to trigger the "calming reflex."

The secret to triggering this reflex is to make the baby feels like they're back in the womb. The Five S's that trigger the calming reflex are:

  1. Swaddling
  2. Side/stomach laying
  3. Shushing
  4. Swaying
  5. Sucking

Sounds like a lot to take in? I used to think so too, until I saw the DVD version of the book (which I highly recommend), and what I saw floored me. In it, the good doctor Karp puts the ninja moves on crying babies and — wouldn't you know — they stop crying on the spot.

Take a look for yourself at the good doctor in action:

Here's video of a regular Joe using the five S's:

I've tried this myself and usually I only need to do the first three S's for my baby to suddenly stop crying. It's a little creepy at first, but it's also the most beautiful sound in the world.

Enjoy!

For more on Dr. Karp and his technique, take a look at his site, The Happiest Baby.

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Guest

The swaddling needs to be *really* tight. My husband could do it, but I wasn't very good at it. Movement was always the best solution for my son. Holding him while swaying also worked very well. Other tricks I used a lot: putting my son on top of a dryer or even washing machine while they were working (though beware the buzzer and end of cycle), the baby swing, even when he was so small he needed extra padding to sit safely. The only baby carrier that worked let him face out and watch everything. He hated the others. Simethicone drops! Harmless and it breaks up the gas bubbles that cause the distress.

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Guest

I'll do this next time a there's a crying baby in the restaurant.

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mommy maid

Our baby loved the swing and music. We used a fan for that swishing noise. We have transitioned to a noise machine with an ocean wave setting. We travel a lot and many times are not at home at naptime. I found the perfect solution online, Sleepy Bee. He is a cute little portable sound machine that attaches to the car seat stroller or pack and play. He takes care of all the sleep interrupting noise. Works great. sleepybees.com

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Guest

feed them or if they are not hungery put them to crawl if they dont know how to crawl then give them toys to play with if you give them like keys they will probaly calm down if they dont like if they are crying because they got hurt or something like that cary them around they will probaly calm down like that

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Guest

We used the 5 S's for my son, who was swaddled at nap time, my daughter didn't need swaddling, but we used Enjoy Sleep Baby Nature's Miracle No-Cry White Noise CD instead of the shushing and we couldn't have done without it. Every nap time, we still put the shushing CD on and it really helps settles her down quickly which she didn't before. Recommend the 5' S's for any new parent.

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Sanchari

Hi, i am a new mommy. i delivered my baby a month back and today while surfing on the net I finally found what i had been looking for over this time. it is about how to stop your baby from crying. the topic is very helpful and i would advice all new mommies to go through it

http://www.nappytimes.com/blog/entry/21-ways-to-stop-making-your-baby-cry