How to Settle Newborn Babies

Updated April 17, 2017

The only way a newborn baby can communicate is by crying. It can be difficult, however, for parents to know what their baby is trying to tell them. It can take a while to get used to the newborn's habits, likes and dislikes. If your newborn is difficult to settle, go through a checklist of possible needs and make sure each one is being met. Hopefully, this will enable you to get to the root of your newborn's crying and you will then be able to settle her.

Feed your newborn baby. Hunger is the most common reason he will cry. A hungry baby will stop crying as his stomach fills up.

Massage your baby; gently rub her back or tummy. Hold her against your shoulder, facing inward, after each feeding to reduce painful gas.

Check your baby's diaper and clothing; often a newborn protests if his diaper is soiled (particularly if his sensitive skin is being irritated) or his clothes are too tight. Make sure clothes fit snugly but comfortably.

Place your hand against your baby's stomach to detect if she feels too hot or too cold; her stomach should be warm to the touch, but not hot. Many babies cry if are too cold, which is why they make a fuss when being bathed or getting their diaper changed. Dress your baby in one more layer than you are wearing yourself; this should keep her temperature comfortable. Add and remove layers in her crib or Moses basket to regulate her temperature. Keep an eye on the temperature in your baby's room; it should be around 17.8 degrees Celsius.

Swaddle your baby in a blanket and cuddle him. Many newborns like to be held; they find close physical contact reassuring. Carry your baby in a baby sling, which will keep him close while allowing you to use your hands to perform other tasks.

Give your newborn a pacifier; a newborn's need to suck is strong and many babies are instantly comforted this way.

Play soothing music or sing a lullaby to your baby. Repetitive rhythms can settle a baby, as they mimic the regular beat of her mother's heart that she heard in the womb.

Avoid overstimulation of your newborn baby. Calm your baby down after a particularly busy day by taking him into a quiet, dimly lit room and giving him some time to settle down away from lots of people, noise and bright lights.

Listen carefully to your baby's cry if she is not settling after being fed, changed, cuddled and comforted. A newborn who is unwell or in pain will cry in a way that is different from her regular hungry/tired/uncomfortable cry; it may sound more urgent or high-pitched. Contact your midwife or paediatrician if you have concerns about your newborn's well-being. Seek professional advice if her crying is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea or a rash.

Remember that all newborn babies cry -- some much more than others. Some babies cry for no reason; they simply take a while to get used to the world around them. Accept that you have a baby who does not settle easily and try not to get stressed about it.

Things You'll Need

  • Thermostat
  • Blanket
  • Baby sling
  • Pacifier
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About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."