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How to Soothe a Fussy Baby

how to soothe a fussy baby

If there’s anything new parents are familiar with, it’s crying babies. Babies communicate through tears, often crying when they’re hungry, tired, hurting, or have dirty diapers. (Of course, sometimes babies cry for no reason at all.) But while crying is completely normal, knowing how to soothe a newborn isn’t necessarily instinctive.

If you’re wondering how to soothe a fussy baby — or when to intervene — keep scrolling. Our Nightingale Specialists are sharing their expert tips below. 

When to Soothe a Fussy Baby

Babies under three months old aren’t able to self-soothe. However, we still recommend waiting a couple of minutes before soothing – to encourage them to start falling asleep independently. (Sometimes, all infants need are healthy sleep associations and a calm environment to drift to lull themselves to sleep.) Wait a couple of minutes of crying before soothing a two-week-old, four minutes for a four-week-old, ten minutes for a ten-week-old, and so on. 

On the other hand, babies older than three or four months can self-soothe. Therefore, you’ll want to extend their fussing intervals to allow them to master self-soothing and find their own comfy spot. After your baby starts crying, we recommend waiting at least 20 minutes before soothing them. Generally, we expect it’ll take at least this long to fall asleep for naps and bedtime. 

How to Soothe a Fussy Baby

Wondering how to soothe a fussy baby? After you’ve put your baby down for a nap, darkened the room, turned on the white noise machine, and waited an appropriate amount of time, it’s okay to go in and soothe your little one. As Nightingale specialists, we recommend the following techniques:

Swaddle Them

Swaddling a baby reminds them of being in the womb. Feeling snug with limited mobility minimizes your newborn’s startle reflex, calming them down and eventually lulling them to sleep. If your baby is younger than three months, swaddle them before putting them down for a nap. 

Soothe Them From the Side of the Crib

We recommend soothing your baby from the side of the crib. If your baby is under three months old, gently place your hand on their tummy, rock them back and forth, or rub their head. If they’re older than three months, rub their tummy or pat their bottom (if they can flip to their tummy). Gently shush them as they calm, then leave the room.  

Turn on a Calming Sound

Constant white noise — at a healthy level! — has been shown to calm infants and children and support sleep transitions. 

Give Them Something to Suck

Many babies are calmed by sucking. If your baby is under three months old, offer them a pacifier. And if they’re older than three months, they’re likely ready to self-soothe. If they’re old enough to find a pacifier on their own, toss a few in their crib for them to find. 

Infant Care Fort Worth, TX

Crying babies can be an overwhelming source of frustration for new parents. However, knowing that it’s developmentally normal, and typically temporary can be reassuring. 

If you were wondering how to soothe a fussy baby, we hope today’s article pointed you in the right direction. And if you’d like more personalized help, we encourage you to set up a consultation with Melissa or nighttime support with one of our Nightingales. 

As Nurse and Nightingales, Newborn Nightingales offers services tailored to each family’s unique needs. Whether you’re looking for nighttime services, breastfeeding tips, help fostering healthy sleep habits, or something else, our experienced team is here for you. Contact us to get started.

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