Tips for calming a fussy baby

Newborn babies all cry at one point or another. In fact, most infants cry somewhere between 1 and 3 hours a day. However, as their caregiver, it can be quite distressing if you can’t figure out what is wrong and get them to settle down. I’ve gathered up some of the best things to try when your baby is upset to soothe their fussiness and stop the crying.

photo of a baby crying
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First, it’s important to start with the basics. No special holds or bouncing and swaying will calm a baby who hasn’t had their basic needs met. Here are some of the most common reasons babies cry that you should make sure are addressed first:

  • Hunger – you’ll want to keep track of how frequently baby is eating and watch out for hunger cues before baby gets really upset. Once baby gets upset, it can sometimes be difficult to get them to settle and eat. Some common hunger cues are smacking lips or putting their fists up to their mouth.
  • Soiled Diaper – make sure you check that baby has a clean dry diaper. Newborns are constantly wetting their diapers and some babies are more bothered by dirty diapers than others.
  • Too Hot or Too Cold – keep baby comfortable by dressing them appropriately for the environment they are in. They should typically be in the same layers of clothing as you to be comfy cozy.
  • Tiredness – babies need a lot of sleep. In fact, newborns sleep for a total of 16 hours per day on average. If baby is rubbing their eyes, yawning or overly fussy, those are all indicators that baby is tired and ready for a nap.
  • Gassiness – unfortunately gas can be quite painful and cause baby a lot of discomfort. If you see baby straining and wriggling, gas may be the culprit. To prevent gas (as much as possible) burp baby well after feeding. To help relieve gas symptoms you can bicycle baby’s legs gently or let them have some tummy ttime. The gentle pressure on their tummy can help.
  • Overstimulation – if baby is in a busy or loud place or have been playing for an extended period time and then they become fussy, it’s possible that they are overstimulated. This happens when baby is overwhelmed by too much sensory information (noise, activity, or sensatuons) than they can process. A common example is if you take baby to a party and then they get upset after being held by a bunch of different people. If you think baby may be overstimulated, take them to a dark and quiet place to settle down.

It’s good to rule out all of these common causes of fussiness before moving on to the tips below. 9 times out of 10 that will resolve baby’s fussiness.

Top Tips & Tricks for calming a crying baby

a mother putting pacifier on her baby s mouth
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This is probably my number one trick for calming a crying baby aside from covering the above basic needs. Movement really can soothe a crying baby. Keep in mind that when they were in your belly, you were probably on the go quite a lot. So movement can be very familiar and comforting for them. Try swaying, rocking gliding or gentle bouncing. Most babies will have a preferred movement, and you’ll learn pretty quickly what they like the best. There are also a number of baby swings that offer soothing movement for babies (for when you just can’t swing or bounce anymore yourself). We are big fans of the MamaRoo baby swing for our little ones.

Gentle Patting

Another way to soothe a crying baby is to try gentle patting on their back or their bum. The diaper tap, as we affectionately called it, always worked at settling our first born. So definitely worth trying it out to see if your baby responds well to it.


Swaddling can be another great way to provide comfort to an upset baby. It can really be a boon for helping them fall and stay asleep. Swaddling muffles baby’s startle reflex and the snugness around them is also reminiscent of the womb. You can swaddle them either using a blanket or use specially designed swaddles that are made to be easy to use and stay in place. We personally preferred the halo sleepsack swaddles.

Baby Wearing

Baby Wearing can be a fantastic way to help them settle when they are upset. Babies love to be close to their moms, and by wearing them you can free up your hands to do something else while keeping them calm and content. Baby will be snuggled up to you, and can hear your heart beat and your breathing keeping them calm and relaxed. On top of that, if you are walking around, that will also help to calm baby down. You can find tons of baby wraps and carriers out there depending on your needs. We liked the Boba Wrap and the Ergo Baby Carrier.

Calming White Noise

White noise can help soothe a fussy baby very well. Try putting on white noise or other soothing sounds like the ocean in baby’s room. You can find sound machines / night lights in one that will play soothing sounds or you can use a whole slew of apps on your phone to play the sounds. Another bonus is this noise can help down out any other sounds happening nearby to prevent baby from waking up once they fall asleep.

Sing a Song

mother caressing her baby to sleep

You may not be a singer, but I can guarantee your baby won’t mind. They love you and they particularly find your voice soothing. Try singing a lullaby or other soothing song when they are upset. Baby may just stop crying and settle down.

Give a Bath

If your baby likes bath (some don’t), try giving them a warm bath to see if that stops the crying. Baths can be both a distraction and a soothing comfort for a baby. It can also be a great thing to incorporate into their nightly routine to help them settle down and get ready to sleep.

Use “The Hold”

Lastly, if none of the above work, you can try out the infamous hold introduced by Dr. Hamilton, a pediatrician in Santa Monica California. He developed his technique while holding newborns during office visits and found that this particular position helped to quiet them. You can watch a video here to see the full technique in action.

If your baby cries excessively, even after checking that all their basic needs are met, you should talk to your Pediatrician. It’s possible they have an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed. A common one is reflux, but many conditions can cause excessive fussiness.

Thanks for stopping by! Do you have a trick for claiming fussy babies? If so, I’d love to hear from you in a comment down below.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out my post on Baby Sleep Tips: how to get baby to sleep at night.

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