How to Calm a Crying Baby

It may be five in the morning, but you've also got Dylan liner notes at your disposal. So relax, and take some advice from a dad.

baby crying

First of all, don't get all bent out of shape. Accept that the baby's feelings are legitimate. The infant must perceive your empathy and calm and feel absolutely confident in it. Hold the baby close and walk around. Use the body heat from your torso and a lilting motion, moving at about the speed of a heartbeat. Speak in a low bass voice with a measured cadence close to the baby's face. Recite something: My dad uses W. B. Yeats's poem "The Stolen Child." I use the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." If a few minutes of this treatment doesn't calm the baby, the only thing that will is breasts. Which you don't have.

This is an easy-to-use manual to stop the screaming, without resorting to cutesy faces and singing Disney songs. The goal: Re-create the continuous sensory stimulation the baby experienced in the womb.

The Five S's, in Order:

Swaddling (shown): Place baby's arms at his sides. Fold a big, square blanket using the "dudu" wrapping pattern (down, up, down, up) to ensure a snug fit.

Side: The back is the only position for sleep, but it's the worst position to calm crying. Roll the baby sideways and slightly onto the stomach, to activate the soothing position sensors in the middle ear.

Shushing: This is meant to imitate the sound of blood flow in the uterus, which is twice as loud as a vacuum cleaner when the baby is in the womb. Shush directly in the baby's ear as loud as he is crying. Lower the level as he begins to quiet down.

Swinging: Move the baby about an inch back and forth in a quick jiggle vibration, creating rhythmic motion. The baby can be over your shoulder, in your arms, or on your lap. The head should move a little like a bobble-head doll's, no more. Never shake a baby, obviously. This is just a slight jiggle.

Sucking: On a finger or pacifier. The baby will love this -- unless, of course, he's already asleep by now.

How to Calm a Crying Baby