How to Stay Calm When a Baby Cries

By Kathryn Rateliff Barr
Learn your baby's different cries to demystify why your baby is crying.
Learn your baby's different cries to demystify why your baby is crying.

When your baby is crying and you don’t know why, it's not always easy to stay calm -- especially if you're a new parent with little experience. Keep in mind that if you let your baby’s cries agitate you, this can make your baby more upset so that he cries harder still, compounding the problem. Instead, take a few moments to determine what your baby is trying to tell you, and then offer comfort. You can think more clearly if you remain calm, even if your child doesn’t respond to your efforts to calm him.

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are capable of handling your baby’s needs, notes This is especially important if your baby is crying for some time and your efforts to get him to stop so far aren't working. It can also help to speak up when you feel yourself getting frustrated. Saying the words, "I'm frustrated" out loud -- either to yourself or to an understanding person -- might help calm you.

Run through the list of basic needs, such as checking baby’s diaper, offering milk and burping your baby. Calmly try changing positions, singing to your baby, patting and/or rubbing his back, and rocking him in a rocking chair.

Turn the lights down and put on some soothing music to calm you and the baby. Cuddle your baby skin to skin so she can hear your heartbeat. Easy ways to cuddle skin to skin include removing your shirt and putting your baby in a sling while she's wearing only a diaper. Another option is to slip your diapered baby inside your shirt and wrap a light sheet around you and baby to hold her secure. Rock her gently or slow dance with her while rubbing or patting her back while you are skin to skin. Whisper a calm phrase like "Everything is OK" to your baby as this can help calm both of you as well.

Massage your baby with baby lotion. Use your fingers to stroke down the right side of his abdomen. Keep your stroke, steady, firm, but still gentle. Use two fingers of both hands to draw a heart shape from just above baby's pubic bone to the bottom rib with your fingers meeting just above the belly button for the down stroke. Finally, stroke a “U” shape on his abdomen. This “I love you” massage helps remove bubbles from the intestine and will often soothe a baby with colic or an upset tummy, according to "Clinical Implications of Touch in Labor and Infancy," a Johnson & Johnson parenting video.

Put your baby in a stroller or car seat and get him moving. Remind yourself to stay calm as you're doing this. This will slow you down -- and also help you communicate calmness to your baby. Battery-operated swings and bouncers can also soothe little ones and help them go to sleep.

Know your limits -- and when it’s time to step away to collect yourself, suggests Don’t compare your abilities and your baby’s behavior to anyone else. Every baby is different and certain periods in a baby’s life are more difficult that others, such as when the baby is teething or suffering from colic. If you're alone and feel you're reaching your limit, put your baby in a safe place like her crib or bassinet. Let her cry while you take a few minutes to settle down in another room.

Take turns caring for your baby if there is another adult or responsible person in the house. Express your need for a break or time-out. While the other adult is caring for the baby, take a shower, go for a walk, meditate, take a catnap or do whatever works for you when you need to de-stress. Come back when you are calmer and more capable of handling your baby.

Let your baby cry in a darkened room with soft, white noise for a period of time. Come back periodically to check on your baby, let her know that you're there, and then distance yourself from the room. Sometimes babies just need to cry it out because they're overstimulated and need time to decompress.

Things You Will Need

  • Music
  • Sling or shirt and sheet combination
  • Baby lotion
  • Carrier, stroller, car seat, swing or bouncer (optional)


Never shake or spank your baby to get him to stop crying.

If the behavior persists, see your pediatrician to see if there is a medical reason for your baby’s crying.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.