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Ways to Comfort a Crying Baby

British Columbia Specific Information

A crying baby is frustrating for parents and caregivers, especially when it goes on for long periods of time or you do not know the cause. To learn about why your baby might be crying, and for tips on comforting your child, see:

If you have any reason to believe a child’s crying is related to possible harm or abuse or you think a child or youth (under 19 years of age) is being abused or neglected, call Child Protection Services at 1-800-663-9122. Child Protection Services in B.C. safeguard children from harm. They have the authority to investigate and take appropriate action to ensure that child’s safety. If there is immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. To learn more, see the Ministry of Children and Family Development – Child Protection Services in B.C.

If you are a child or youth and want to talk to someone, call the Helpline for Children toll-free at 310-1234 (no area code needed). You can call at any time of the day or night and you do not have to give your name. Call 1-866-660-0505 for TTY services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Helpline for Children is a toll-free service for children or youth (under 19 years of age). There is no charge to call the operator if you call from a pay phone.

Anyone who has reason to believe that a child has been, or is likely to be, abused or neglected has a legal duty under the Child, Family and Community Service Act to report the matter. Visit Ministry of Children and Family Development – Reporting Child Abuse for more information.

Topic Overview

Comforting techniques often will calm a crying child if the crying isn't caused by pain. These techniques may help comfort a baby with colic, because colic isn't caused by pain. But if the crying doesn't seem normal or your baby seems sick, call your doctor.

First, check to be sure your baby isn't hungry. Very young babies usually don't eat much at one sitting and may become hungry 1 to 2 hours after a feeding. Feeding your baby might stop the crying.

    • Offer a pacifier for sucking. Sucking can help babies relieve stress without crying. If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until breastfeeding is going well before you offer a pacifier.
    • Try rocking your baby. Gently rock your baby, or use a mechanical swing.
    • Sing quietly to your baby. You may find that singing the same song over and over is soothing. You can also try playing music at a low volume.
    • Turn on something with a rhythmic sound, such as a fan that hums, a vacuum cleaner, a clothes dryer, or recordings of womb sounds. A white-noise sleep machine for babies may help. Put the machine far from the crib and use the lowest volume to keep the baby's hearing safe from harm. And use the machine only for short periods of time.
    • Cuddle and hold your baby close. Touching, holding, and softly talking to the baby may stop the crying. You can also try carrying the baby around (in a sling or other baby carrier) while you are doing activities so that the baby is comforted by being close to you.
    • Give your child a warm water bath if he or she likes to take a bath.
    • Try walking or taking your child for a ride in a stroller or a car. Sometimes a walk outside can change a child's mood.
    • Change your baby's position. Hold your baby so that you put gentle pressure on the belly. Try holding your baby with his or her belly over your lower arm and his or her head at your elbow.

How to use the techniques

  • Use one technique at a time.
  • Give the technique time to work. Try it for about 1 to 2 minutes before switching to another technique.
  • If your baby continues to cry for 20 to 30 minutes, change locations and try again. Sometimes nothing works. In these cases, consider placing your baby in his or her crib for a brief period (5 minutes at a time) while you stay close by. Then repeat your attempts to comfort.
  • When you find what works, use it most of the time or use it as the first technique to comfort your child.

Credits

Adaptation Date: 9/17/2021

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC