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My Baby will not Stop Crying!

How To Soothe a Crying Baby

There are many different ways you can soothe a crying baby, it's finding the right one that's the tricky part. I'll share some techniques that worked for us and hopefully give you a starting point.

The Cuddle Cure

Babies calm down sooner and easier when you imitate the womb environment.

One of my personal favorite methods is the 5 S' or the Cuddle Cure. Dr. Harvey Karp came up with this, and I can tell you it's worked well for all three of our kids.

The Cuddle Cure involves the following:

  • Swaddling. Swaddling imitates the containment of the womb.
  • Shh'ing. The shhh sound reminds them of the sounds they heard through the amniotic fluid.
  • Side/Stomach Holding. The side/stomach hold is soothing.
  • Sucking. Sucking is what all babies do best. 
  • Swinging Motion. The swinging motion is the same type of movement babies experienced in the womb. 

The How-To

The video above of Dr. Harvey Karp demonstrating the Cuddle Cure to soothe a crying baby

  • First, you swaddle your baby and then pick them up.
  • Hold them in a side lying or stomach lying position.
  • Then you start shhh'ing as loud as the baby is crying, decreasing your volume as baby calms down.
  • You can then offer the baby a dummy (pacifier), your clean finger or you can provide the breast for sucking on.
  • Gently but purposefully swing/sway/rock/"jiggle" your baby while doing the above.

One thing that will surprise you is that the shhhh'ing is much louder than you'd expect. Dr. Harvey even does it pretty close to the baby's ear. From our own experience, the dads usually have faster results, because they can shhh so much louder.

If you're wondering why do it so loud? Well, have you ever put your ears under the water in your bath while the tap is open? It gets pretty loud, and it's the same intensity the baby hears in the amniotic fluid. The womb is by no means a quiet place. The sound of the mother's blood flowing, the sound of her intestines digesting food and her heart beating are all very close to her baby.

If you've ever had an ultrasound done and were able to listen to the heartbeat, you'll know what the other noises sound like too. A doppler also gives you a good idea.

The same goes for the movement. As you went about your day during your pregnancy, you didn't walk slower or more gently. Your baby was rocked by your natural way of movement. If your baby does not stop crying, you will want to recreate that same feeling for them, by swaying/rocking or "jiggling" (as Dr. Harvey refers to it).

Whether the baby sucks on the mother's breast, on a pacifier, on their own hand or on your clean finger, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that they suck on something to soothe themselves.

Once your baby starts to calm down, you can slowly take away one of the s' at a time. You might even learn which combination of these work better for your baby. If your baby doesn't like being swaddled, leave it out and use the other four s'.

There is a difference between this type of movement and shaking a baby. People quickly comment that it's never a good idea to shake a baby when they first see the video of Dr. Harvey doing this but rest assured he is not shaking the baby. And the baby's head, neck, and back is supported at all times, which makes Shaken Baby Syndrome unlikely.

Whatever works for you and your baby, do that!

"Baby will not stop crying" was written by Elsabe Marleen Rabe (Author, primary school teacher and mother of three)

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