What to do with a crying baby

KSL.com, as well as many other syndicated online news outlets, picked up the article I wrote (below) on my website. It even got translated into Spanish. Que bueno! At the end of the article, KSL inserted a voting poll for which method worked wonders for your crying baby:

Infant massage
Stroller or Car ride
A special “Hold”
White noise

The article got a lot of comments and viewers (over 6,500 to date!) so I’m pleased people are talking about this important issue. Parenting a newborn can be stressful! Here’s the link if you want to see it published: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=38648774&nid=1009&title=what-to-do-with-a-crying-baby

I’d like to call attention to a little-known form of child abuse. Unlike other types of abuse, this one is usually not done intentionally or out of malicious intent. In fact, the abusing adult may be a caring, normal person like you or me. But in one moment, that can all change.

It happens when a baby cries uncontrollably and the caregiver becomes impatient and starts shaking the baby out of frustration.


Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when adults, frustrated and angry with an infant, shakes them violently. It is also known as “Abusive Head Trauma” and is the most common type of infant abuse. A caregiver momentarily succumbs to the frustration of responding to a crying baby by shaking.

It is important that parents and caregivers know the dangers of shaking. Let’s make others aware of this danger just like SIDS. They also need to tell everyone who cares for the baby, that it is NEVER okay to shake the baby.

Why Is Shaking a Baby A Danger?

A baby’s neck is too weak to support their heavy head.Consequently, when shaken, their head flops back and forth, causing serious brain injury.


A baby’s brain and the blood vessels connecting the skull to the brain are fragile and immature.Therefore, when a baby is shaken, the brain ricochets about their skull, causing the blood vessels to tear away and blood to pool inside their skull causing irreparable damage to the brain or retinal detachment.

If found to be guilty, a the adult can be prosecuted for child abuse in the first degree and imprisoned.

So what do we do with a crying baby?

I’ve  taken care of my fair share of inconsolable infants. You have to wonder at a newborn with such tiny lungs who can produce so much sound! I raised five children and some were just fussier than others. Some, in particular, chose the evening and early morning hours to be the most colicky. Exactly the time when I was most exhausted, stressed, and frustrated. Those early morning hours can be the perfect storm for a parent to lose their patience. I’d like to offer a list of things to do when you can’t get the baby to calm down.

Take the baby for a walk outside in a stroller or for a ride in the car seat. When the baby is in another device and your hands are wrapped around the handle or a steering wheel, you are physically removed from holding/hurting the baby. It gives you distance, emotionally and physically. These two activities also have a calming effect because the purr of the engine or gentle rocking of the stroller.

Hold the baby against your chest and gently massage the baby. Massaging a baby has this calming effect on you because you are stroking yourself as well.

Rock, walk, or dance with the baby. Soft music can calm you and the infant.

Be patient; take a deep breath and count to ten. Or a hundred.

Call a friend or relative that you can trust to take over for a while, then get away, get some rest, take care of yourself.

Wrap up the baby tightly or give a warm bath.  Even if the baby doesn’t like to be bathed, I can almost guarantee that a properly swaddled infant will calm down.

Lower any surrounding noise and lights.

Hold the baby and breathe slowly and calmly; the baby may feel your calmness and become quiet. If you are agitated, most likely the baby will be too.

Sing or talk to the baby using soothing tones.

Record a sound, like a vacuum cleaner, or hair dryer and play it. White noise. There are even CDs and other audio players that play these sounds…even the “womb” noises.

See a doctor to check out physiological problems (i.e. acid reflux, lactose intolerance)


That was my list. Now here is the 5 S’s that Dr. Harvey uses to effectively pacify a crying baby. He found a 98% success rate using these. They imitate babies’ experience inside the uterus.

1.Sucking (pacifier)

2.Swaddling (arms down, tightly fitted with a large receiving blanket)

3.Side/Stomach position (hold them, not put them down in this position)

4.Shushing (a loud, but controlled shushing sound in their ear)

5.Swinging (small quiver-like movements)

So next time your baby exercises her lungs tirelessly, try out these 5 steps and let me know how they work. Blessings to you all for doing your best during these sleep-deprived years.




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