Topic Overview

Comforting techniques often will calm a crying child if the crying isn’t caused by pain. These techniques may help comfort a baby with colic, because colic isn’t caused by pain. But if the crying doesn’t seem normal or your baby seems sick, call your doctor.

First, check to be sure your baby isn’t hungry. Very young babies usually don’t eat much at one sitting and may
become hungry 1 to 2 hours after a feeding. Feeding your baby might stop the crying.

  • Offer a
    pacifier for sucking. Sucking can help babies relieve stress without crying. If you are breastfeeding, wait until it’s
    going well before you offer a pacifier.
  • Try rocking your baby. Gently rock your baby, or use a mechanical swing.
  • Sing quietly to your baby. You may find that singing the same song over and
    over is soothing. You can also try playing music at a low volume.
  • Turn on something with a rhythmic sound, such as a
    fan that hums, a vacuum cleaner, a clothes dryer, or recordings of womb sounds. A white-noise sleep machine for babies may help. Put the machine far from the crib and use the lowest volume to keep the baby’s hearing safe from harm. And use the machine only for short periods of time.
  • Cuddle and hold your baby close. Touching, holding,
    and softly talking to the baby may stop the crying. You can also try carrying
    the baby around (in a sling or other baby carrier) while you are doing
    activities so that the baby is comforted by being close to
  • Swaddle your baby, which means wrap
    your baby in a blanket. When you swaddle your baby, keep the blanket loose around the hips and legs. If the legs are wrapped tightly or straight, hip problems may develop. Be sure you don’t make your child too
  • Give your child a warm water bath if he or she likes to
    take a bath.
  • Try walking or taking your child for a ride in a stroller
    or a car. Sometimes a walk outside can change a child’s mood.
  • Change your baby’s position. Hold your baby so that
    you put gentle pressure on the belly. Try holding your baby with
    his or her belly over your lower arm and his or her head at your elbow.

How to use the techniques

  • Use one technique at a time.
  • Give the technique time to work. Try it for about 1 to 2 minutes before switching to another technique.
  • If your baby
    continues to cry for 20 to 30 minutes, change locations and try again.
    Sometimes nothing works. In these cases, consider placing your baby in his or
    her crib for a brief period (5 minutes at a time) while you stay close by. Then
    repeat your attempts to comfort.
  • When you find what works, use it most
    of the time or use it as the first technique to comfort your child.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017