3 Ways to Calm a Fussy Baby

Your little baby is crying for the zillionth time today, and you’re not sure what to do. It seems like whatever you try just isn’t working!

While you won’t always be able to calm your fussy baby, it’s important to try. Research shows that responding to your infant’s cries is key to building a secure attachment (1).

Here are a few things you can try, along with their limitations. Ultimately, figure out what works best for you and your baby!

1. Use a Pacifier

When your baby is fussy but it’s not time to eat yet, try using a pacifier. According to the National Physicians Center, “Infants have a need to suck even before they are born and even when they are not feeding” (2). This sucking, “termed non-nutritive sucking…is very beneficial for infants” and “has been shown to help hospitalized premature infants gain weight better” and to help “a baby comfort and settle himself”  (2).

While pacifiers can be a great way to soothe, the NPC recommends waiting until you and your baby have figured out breastfeeding before you start using a pacifier (2). That way, you can avoid nipple confusion. Also, don’t use a pacifier when your baby is hungry.

2. Swaddle Your Baby

Another great trick to try is swaddling. Whether you use a swaddle blanket or a swaddle sack, your baby may like being wrapped up tight. Swaddling imitates the womb, which is comforting for many babies, especially when they’re young.

Swaddling works best for the first 6 to 8 weeks of a baby’s life after birth, though it certainly can help at other ages too (3). However, we don’t recommend swaddling beyond 4 months of age due to the increased risk of SIDS in waddled infants beyond 6 months of age. Additionally, it’s important to use lightweight material and wrap the blanket tightly enough that it doesn’t come loose. When your baby is sleeping, loose blankets can increase the risk of SIDS (3).

Below is a how-to video on swaddling your baby.


3. Take a Stroll

A lot of babies are calmed by motion. This is because, as research shows, “Calming motions remind babies of movements they felt in the womb” (4). Try taking your baby for a walk in the stroller. Moving around may help both you and your baby!

In addition, you may have heard your grandmother or older relatives telling you, “That baby needs some fresh air”. Grandma was probably right as there is some research that indicates infants do less crying when they have been outdoors in the sunlight.

Unfortunately, the weather may not always be baby friendly. If it’s too hot or cold out, try taking a stroll around the house!

Keep Calm

Sometimes no matter what you try, your baby will just keep crying. But what matters is that you try to calm your baby and then keep calm if it doesn’t work. A crying baby doesn’t make you a bad parent!

Whether you try a pacifier, swaddling, going for a walk, or something completely different, your relationship with your baby will benefit as you respond to the crying with love. So take a deep breath, keep calm, and do your best as you try to calm your baby.

For more information on soothing your baby, check out this awesome patient information handout from the National Physicians Center called Using S’s to Soothe Your Baby with 9 short and practical tips for helping your baby relax and settle down (5).

>> Please note that these suggestions apply only to WELL BABIES. If your baby’s fussiness is out of the ordinary, please contact your child’s pediatrician for advice.

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Pictures retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cry-baby.jpg.


1. Higley, E., & Dozier, M. (2009). Nighttime maternal responsiveness and infant attachment at one year. Attachment & Human Development, 11(4), 347-363. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3422632/

2. National Physicians Center. What Should I Know About Pacifiers? (patient information handout). Retrieved from http://www.physicianscenter.org/files/4614/3561/1563/pacifiers.pdf

3. The benefits of swaddling your baby. (2015, November). Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/2_the-benefits-of-swaddling-your-baby_10347122.bc

4. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, July 18). How to calm a fussy baby: Tips for parents and caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Calming-A-Fussy-Baby.aspx

5. National Physicians Center. Using S’s to Soothe Your Baby (patient information handout). Retrieved from http://www.physicianscenter.org/files/1514/3567/3265/soothing_your_baby.pdf

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