This article was originally published in April 2020. Updated in December 2023.

Parenting is stressful and a crying infant can be particularly distressing. Our pediatric experts share ways to safely cope with a crying baby. 

Ask what your baby is trying to tell you.

Young babies only have one way of communicating: crying. Ask yourself if one of the following reasons could be the cause of their crying, then try the suggested solution.

  • Too hot? Your baby should only need one more layer of clothing than you do. Take off a layer and see if that calms them. 
  • Too cold? Try adding another layer or snuggling to share your body warmth. 
  • Hungry? Try feeding. But keep in mind: A baby who is already crying hard may not settle to feed, so you may need to find another way to soothe her first. See below for soothing techniques. 
  • Wet/dirty? Change your baby’s diaper and any wet clothing. 
  • Tired? Overtired babies may cry and keep themselves awake. Try the soothing techniques below. 
  • Bored? Try a new environment. Carry your baby into the laundry room where there are new sounds and smells. Go outside. Push buttons on the microwave. Play and sing music. 
  • In pain? Undress your baby completely in case there is something tight, sharp or poking her. Check in his eyes for an eyelash or sore area. Check fingers, toes and penis to make sure there isn’t a piece of hair or string wrapped tightly that is causing pain. 
  • Sick? Sometimes babies who have a fever or other illness cry more than usual. Consider calling your child’s doctor for advice or to schedule a Video Visit.

Use soothing techniques to calm your baby.

  • Sing. You don’t have to be a good singer, and it doesn’t have to be a real song. Narrate what you are doing in a sing-song voice: “We are changing your diaper, changing your diaper, throwing it away…” Traditional baby favorites like Itsy Bitsy Spider or popular songs work fine, too. 
  • Shush or whisper. Babies like repetitive sounds like shushing, white noise or quiet whispers. 
  • Bounce, sway or swing. Try a gentle, repetitive movement like rocking your baby side-to-side, holding her to your chest and bouncing yourself up and down by bending your hips, or putting him in a baby swing. 
  • Swaddle. Young babies can often be comforted by being wrapped tightly in a blanket to mimic the womb environment. 
  • Carry on the side or belly. Babies spend a lot of time on their backs (and on the back is the safest sleeping position for young infants). Crying babies may be soothed by being carried face-down across an adult’s arm.

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If nothing is working, put your baby in a safe place and walk away.

You may do all of the above, and find that your baby is still crying. Here are some strategies:

  • If you are at risk of losing control – for example, if you are yelling, crying or feeling anger in your mind or body – put your baby in a safe place, on their back, and walk away.
  • If there is another adult with you, ask that they take a turn with the baby.
    • If not, it is perfectly acceptable to leave your crying baby in a safe place (a crib or pack ‘n play are both good choices) for a few moments so that you can calm down.
  • Try taking deep breaths, talking to a friend, eating a snack, stepping outside – or even vacuuming. The vacuum noise may calm both you and your baby, the movement will give you something physical to do to release your frustration, and your room will be cleaner when you’re done!
  • Never hit, squeeze, punch or shake your baby violently. Any of these actions can cause irreversible harm.

Share these tips with all of your baby’s caregivers.

Make sure that anyone who may care for your baby has these tips and understands the dangers of shaking or otherwise harming an infant.

If you have concerns about your own child, another child you care for, or the ability of an adult you know to properly care for their child, contact the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families at 1.800.842.2288.