March 27, 2024

Self-Soothing Techniques to Calm a Baby

Sleeping baby

As we all know, the sound of a baby crying gets the attention of anyone nearby. That’s important since it can alert parents or caregivers that the baby has an unmet need. However, it’s vital to understand that babies also cry simply to release emotions and relax.

This article explains how to interpret a baby’s crying and when you might start encouraging infant self-soothing techniques. Doing so teaches them to be more emotionally self-sufficient and can also reduce the stress levels of parents and caregivers.

Understanding Why a Baby Is Crying

  • They’re hungry.
  • They’re tired.
  • They’re uncomfortable, like when they need a diaper change.
  • They’re injured.
  • They’re overstimulated (meaning they’re overwhelmed by the sights and sounds around them).

Knowing why your baby cries in a given instance requires careful observation and some “trial and error.” You shouldn’t expect to have an intuitive understanding of their wants and needs. That expectation puts a lot of pressure on you as a parent! Instead, know that the communication between you and your baby will continually evolve.

How Do I Calm My Baby Down?

Self-soothing is a baby’s ability to calm down so they can fall asleep or just quietly play and observe the world around them. Learning this skill pays dividends now and throughout their life.

You should typically respond promptly when babies cry in the first three months. In other words, you shouldn’t implement self-soothing techniques for newborns. However, at around three months, babies begin to have some control over their emotions. That’s when many parents start teaching soothing techniques for infants.

Creating a Comforting Atmosphere

The first step in promoting self-soothing techniques for infants is creating a comfortable environment. Soft lighting, gentle sounds (many babies prefer some white noise over silence), and a comfortable temperature are essential. Many issues that might agitate a baby are eliminated in that type of setting.

Establishing a Routine

Babies learn best and are happiest when they have a recognized routine. You can leverage that preference by following a pattern each time you want them to self-soothe.

You should start by ensuring that you meet the baby’s needs. Are they hungry? Do they need to be burped? Do they need a diaper change?

Once you’ve addressed their physical requirements, you can put them down in their crib or seat and stay with them briefly. Spending a few minutes nearby helps them understand that being put down isn’t bad.

Providing a pacifier is a common self-soothing technique for babies and may comfort your little one. However, consider limiting pacifiers to naptime and bedtime and providing one with other comforting stimuli like white noise. That way, when it’s time for your baby to stop using a pacifier, they aren’t overly reliant on it.

Similarly, it’s common for babies to nod off while breastfeeding or taking a bottle. You should start weaning them off the feed-to-sleep approach over time. You can do that by ending feeding when you see them begin to drift off or burping them to wake them up if you want them to eat more.

It’s normal for babies to cry or fuss a bit when you first put them down. It takes time to teach infants self-soothing techniques. Eventually, you’ll find the right balance between soothing them and having them soothe themselves.

Recognizing When Further Help is Needed

If self-soothing techniques for infants don’t seem to be helping your baby, it’s possible they have colic or another medical issue. Don’t hesitate to contact your Baptist Health pediatrician with questions or concerns. They can perform an exam if needed and provide further guidance on self-soothing techniques if appropriate.

If you don’t have a Baptist Health provider, you can find a mother and baby care doctor now.

Learn More.