How To Calm Your Baby

Picture of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn

by Penny Simkin, PT; et al.

Dr. Harvey Karp suggests calming babies using a five-step method called the Five S’s. This method provides babies with a familiar and comforting womb-like environment. Some babies need all five steps, while others are calmed by just a few.

Swaddling increases how long your baby sleeps by preventing her from startling herself awake. You can swaddle your baby in a large, lightweight blanket; a commercial swaddling blanket; or sleep sack with her arms tucked inside. Your nurse, midwife, or doula can show you how to swaddle your baby, or there are many commercial swaddling products on the market. (For example, Dr. Karp offers an instructional DVD.) You can also provide a swaddle-like environment by tucking your baby snugly inside a baby carrier, sling, swing, or bouncy seat. Visit our web site,, to learn an effective double swaddle technique.

Side or stomach position
Hold your baby in your arms on her side (which may aid digestion) or on her stomach with gentle pressure against her abdomen. Being held on her back may cause her to startle easily.

Make a shushing sound near your baby’s ear or use white noise (continuous noise such as a fan or radio static) loudly enough so she can hear it over her crying.

Repetitive motion such as swinging helps soothe babies. Swing your baby by swaying, rocking, jiggling, or gently bouncing with her on an exercise ball. You also can gently swing her from side to side in a hammock made by holding two corners of a blanket while someone else holds the other two corners. To give yourself a chance to eat or rest, consider using a baby swing.

Let your baby suck on a pacifier or your finger. Feeding her can also calm her; however, you’ll have likely already tried this as a calming technique, because hunger is a typical reason for crying.

Excerpted from: Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, Fourth Edition

© copyright Parent Trust for Washington Children with permission from its publisher Meadowbrook Press.

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