Have you ever gazed teary-eyed at the sweet angel-like face of your baby while he or she is asleep? Don’t you just feel like the luckiest person in the world to be blessed with such a little bundle of joy? News flash – unfortunately, babies do not remain sleeping cherubic angels forever. They could be exhibiting absolutely no signs of fever or inflammation, been changed, fed and burped but still continue crying.

Both first time parents as well as veteran caregivers may be overwhelmed with frustration when all tried-and-tested ways of soothing a crying baby fail. In order to preserve your sanity, we gather ideas from the experiences of others who have successfully calmed their forlorn little ones.

1. Enter the 4th Trimester.

Celebrity paediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp states that the “fourth trimester” is very important. The key to effectively activating a baby’s calming reflex is to replicate the environment in the womb with these steps: snuggly swaddling, laying the baby on its side or stomach, loud shushing, rhythmic movements such as swinging and car rides, and allowing the baby to suck on a pacifier or nipple.

2. Use plastic bags?

Margareth Yenni, who lives in Narita, Japan, is a kindergarten teacher and mother of two boys aged six and nine. She shares, “I’ve tried using the sound of plastic bags on my second son. It worked.” She provided us with the link to her video so as to form a better idea of the unusual pacifying method. Be forewarned of high levels of chubby adorability!

3. Stay away from crying babies!

An Italian study revealed that newborns exhibit distress upon hearing the cries of other newborns. They can also differentiate between the recorded sounds of their own cries and the cries of their counterparts. It would therefore be favourable to decrease your baby’s exposure to other infants’ wailing.

4. Cry or suck.

Anuragini Shirish, a mother of a newborn daughter and another aged five, hails from India and currently resides in Paris, France. She comments, “In India we cradle the baby and mostly nothing more.” She adds that, “In France, they let the baby cry and let it stop on its own.” Mrs Shirish also expresses her amazement at the frequent use of the pacifier in France and at allowing babies to suck on their own fingers to calm down.

5. Ease ear pressure.

Allowing the baby to learn how to soothe itself is fine, but not under all circumstances. While most of us are aware that feeding a baby on a flight and the swallowing that follows relieves painful ear pressure during take-off and landing, Corinne McDermott, a writer and mother of two, elaborates in this piece on ensuring that you have everything you need to soothe baby during the remaining span of a lengthy flight.


6. Clear the ‘air’.

Mulyani Wijaya, a mother of two boys aged seven and nine who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, still recalls the nights when her firstborn cried for no apparent reason after the sun had set. Her elderly and superstitious aunt lent a hand during these trying times by waving a broom made of many wooden sticks called sapu lidi as if clearing the air of the room, and placed a ginger-like Zingiber Purpureum root under the mattress. Surprisingly, although the root caused an unpleasant smell to linger over the room, her baby always ceased crying immediately.

7. Try researched methods.

A research conducted in the United Arab Emirates which involved surveying 998 mothers of various nationalities revealed that the most common soothing method was breast-feeding (99.1%), followed by carrying the infant (96.9%), letting the infant suck on his thumb or finger (87.3%), ingestion of herbal tea (65%), allowing a bedtime bottle (42.1%) and swaddling the infant. (19.5%)

8. Find the cause of the cries.

Here in Singapore, Jeremy Soh, a father of two boys aged four and eight suggests, “Try and find the cause of crying first. The standard diaper and hunger checks came first. Sometimes, it could be due to colic so it had to be handled differently. Massaging the baby could help in that case.” When asked if he did massage his baby boys, he replied, “Not very often, but yes. A tummy rub, leg rub and back rub with Johnson’s baby lotion.”

9. Pass to mummy!

Another hands-on local daddy, Benjamin Kim, father of an eight-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl lists, “The first step to take would be to make sure that the SOPs (standard operations procedures) are in place: check the baby’s diaper, check if the air conditioner’s temperature is all right or whether the fan is still running. The second step would be to ensure that the baby’s comfort toys are present. Next, attempt to soothe the baby by indulging in some baby-talk. The fourth step would then be to sing a song or a lullaby. The fifth and desperate measure would be to lightly chide the baby. If all of the above fails, the sixth and final step would be to hand baby over to mummy.” It was all rather admirable till he got to the last two tiers. Mr Kim continues, “But I would seriously try to escape. Nothing beats a crying baby. But after sometime, you might sort of miss it.” (that made us go “Awwww!”) His wife, Jasmine Lee, adds jokingly, “If the iPad had already been invented back then, Ben would have installed one above the baby’s cot!”

10. Establish trust.

Widia Tipper, an early childhood educator living in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, shares that it is easiest to calm a pre-nursery child when the child trusts her caregiver. There are three educators in her class of twelve children aged 18 to 24 months old. The educator whom the crying child is most comfortable with will attempt to convince the child that everything is all right. She says, “If the child happens to be closer to another teacher, it takes some time to calm them down.”

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