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Calming a Cranky Baby

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Dear Debi,
Iím a new father and have no clue as what to do. My six-and-a-half month old son can be way too cranky at times. I donít want to spoil him, but I hate to hear him cry. What should I do to keep him calmer and happier?
Michael , North Hollywood, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Babies fuss when uncomfortable or to blow off steam
  • Sometimes itís OK to let babies ďcry it outĒ
  • Use touch, sound and movement
Expert Advice
Tanya Remer Altmann, MD
Tanya Remer Altmann, MD
Pediatrician and Author
Sometimes babies fuss because theyíre hungry, or theyíre wet, or theyíre uncomfortable. Sometimes itís a way for them to blow off some steam. Depending on the age, it may be fine for them to fuss, as long as their growing and developing well. Crying can be their way of calming themselves down.

Sunday nights are usually fussy baby night. All the relatives come over and play with them, so it takes them longer to put themselves to sleep.

A babyís cry can signal different things. Babies usually have a ďhungryĒ cry and a ďhurtĒ cry if theyíre in pain. Parents learn their babyís types of cries and if itís not Iím hungry or in pain, they can usually let a baby just ďcry it out.Ē I donít recommend this if the infant is just a couple of months old, but if the child is 4 months or older, letting them cry can actually teach them how to comfort themselves.

Usually itís the parents that donít want the kids cry. They donít want the baby to grow up thinking they didnít love him or her. We tell them they have all day to show them how much they love them. If you donít teach them at 6 months old how to sleep through the night, then at 3 years of age they still wonít know.

A fussy baby can also be a sign that the infant is experiencing gas. Gas usually isnít dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable for a baby. You can give them drops or put their legs up. Usually parents canít really tell what the pain is from. Parents think the kid is gassy, but sometimes the gas comes after the crying as opposed to before. Putting the baby in a warm bath can help too.

Dancing with your baby can be a great way to calm a cranky baby. You can also lay a baby on your chest too. Soft rocking movements help soothe the baby. Singing can help too. Remember, some babies just cry more often than other babies do. Itís simply part of their temperament. Just like everybody has a different personality, babies have different temperaments.
Child Care provider Comments
Alma Martinez
Alma Martinez
Child care provider for 10 years
If I have a cranky baby, I check to see if they are wet or have a soiled diaper. I figure out how long itís been since theyíve had their last nourishment. If all else fails, I love to give them a nice, warm bath. It helps their body to relax and they donít cramp up from being tense. I might even try to put the baby in the car and ride around the block, or put them in the stroller and go for a walk. Just the motion of going and the rhythm of the wheels can be soothing to a child.
Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Child care provider for 4 years
When a child is cranky or upset, there are certain things I always check out. Is the baby hungry? Does the baby need to be changed? Does the baby need me to play with him or her? Is the baby sick? If all of those things are taken care of, Iíll try to soothe the baby.

I like to dim the lights, put on soft music and rock the baby while talking in a calm tone. If those things donít work, I might explore more about what the baby had to eat. For instance, if the baby cries every time I give her milk, maybe sheís allergic to it.
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
The first thing you need to do is to try to find why the baby is cranky. If the baby has diaper rash, you should treat it, which should help quiet the baby. If the baby is teething, you can give him Oragel, which should help soothe him. If you feed the baby or give him his pacifier and he still doesnít have anything else wrong but is still crying, sometimes it may be a signal that he just wants to be held.

5 Steps to Calming a Cranky Baby Featured Activity:
5 Steps to Calming a Cranky Baby
Sensory Garden for Infants Featured Video:
Sensory Garden for Infants
Topic: Social & Emotional Development
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Attachment & Bonding
Managing Anxiety
Tantrums
Temperament in Babies & Toddlers
Getting Baby to Sleep
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