Published on January 11, 2016

4 quick steps to soothe your crying baby4 quick steps to soothe your crying baby

There may be nothing more frustrating or exhausting to new parents than the sound of their baby crying.

An inconsolable baby will frazzle any new parent, but it’s not just an emotional reaction. Research shows that adults’ blood pressure and heart rate tend to rise whenever they hear the sound of a baby crying – even if it’s not their baby.

A 2012 study on the effects of crying on non-parents by Oxford psychologist Katie Young found that our brains are programmed to react to the sound of crying. It prepares our bodies to help out whenever we hear it, which is why crying babies on planes are so upsetting.

So it’s no wonder that a YouTube video made by Dr. Robert Hamilton of Pacific Ocean Pediatrics in Santa Monica has gone viral. Dr. Hamilton demonstrated a way to calm a crying baby in just seconds. Called, “The Hold,” the method is simple and works best for 2- and 3-month-old children.

Here’s how it works, according to Dr. Hamilton:

  1. Fold the baby’s arms across its chest.
  2. Secure the arms and hold the chin with one hand.
  3. Hold the baby’s bottom with your dominant hand.
  4. Gently rock the baby at a 45-degree angle.

“Each child is different and part of it is figuring out what the baby needs or is looking for,” said pediatrician Alexander Heard, MD, at Cape Cod Pediatrics in Forestdale. Dr. Heard gives parents at his practice a short list of things to run down to determine the cause of crying:

  • Is the baby hungry?
  • Is the baby wet?
  • Is the baby hot?
  • Is the baby cold?
  • Is the baby in pain?

“If none of those are present you are not required to stop them from crying,” Dr. Heard said. “That is a very liberating thing for parents to hear.”

Sometimes babies cry for no reason at all and pediatricians have long known that some of it is developmental. In 1962, renowned childhood expert Dr. T. Berry Brazelton conducted a study of the crying habits of healthy babies. In the study Dr. Brazelton found that all babies go through a stage of development where they cry more often.

The crying begins at about two weeks, peaks around six weeks and begins decreasing between 12 to 16 weeks. In 1986, Dr. Urs Hunziker and Dr. Ronald Barr replicated the study in Montreal with the exact same results. The bottom line: All normal babies cry.

Even with that in mind, Dr. Heard said there are some ways to sooth a crying baby that do help:

  • Talking in a softer tone of voice
  • Taking them to a less stimulating environment
  • Rocking them
  • Singing to them