Quick Guide: How to Pacify a Crying Baby, According to an Experienced Mom

how to pacify crying baby

ParentingPortal.org contributor shares her experience on how to pacify a crying baby. Her advice: find out what the cause/ root of the problem is, then act accordingly.

Babies can’t speak and their only verbal form of communication is, unfortunately, to cry.

And boy do they cry.

They cry when they’re hungry, they cry when they’re wet, sleepy, colic-y, want affection, and sometimes they cry for no particular reason at all.

It can be worrying when your baby cries incessantly for an extended period of time, gasping for air, giving herself stomach trouble. However, understanding different types of cries can help you understand your baby and hopefully help you to calm her down quickly.

Reason: The Hunger Cry

This cry starts off with a slight cough in the back of the throat, then the first short cry comes out. It begins short and quick then a more steady rhythm.

For some babies, it starts sudden and urgent, and as she grows older it builds up to a demanding scream.

Visually, she starts to subtly lick her lips or stick her tongue out and turn her head from side to side and pulls her hand towards her mouth.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

The best way to discern if it is indeed a hunger call is to look at when she last ate. Has it already been 2-3 hours?

Did she finish her previous feed?

Look for these clues to find out her real reason for crying. Then, of course, feed the crying baby to pacify her!

Reason: The Exhaustion Cry

This starts off as a cranky and infrequent fussing.

If not addressed, will quickly become an overtired cry which is usually 3 short wails followed by a harder cry, and then gasping for air and then a much louder cry.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

Visually, did she blink or yawn?

If you don’t address her cries, she may curl her back, flail her arms and legs, and may scratch her face and grab ears and cheeks.

Continued crying causes her face to turn red and if you’re holding her, she’ll attempt to turn towards you and squirm (which may be mistaken for colic).

This cry may be mistaken for hunger, so look out for signs on whether she’s tired, and again, check when was her last feed.

Reason: Baby Needs A Change of Scenery

This begins as fussing and if ignored, becomes short snorts and hisses and eventually a wail if completely ignored.

Visually, this is easy to spot as this happens when you’re playing with her, or have placed an object in front of her and she turns away from it.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

Some babies get bored of tummy time and need a position change.

If position changes don’t work, she may be tired and needs to sleep.

Reason: Colic

This is a loud high pitched shrill that comes without warning and may gasp for breath between cries and repeats itself.

Visually, baby pulls knees up to her chest, face scrunched up and red, and whole body tenses and becomes rigid.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

Colic can be due to gas, indigestion or food allergies.

Overfeeding or underfeeding can cause it too as they all impact his digestive system which is immature at this stage.

The extra demands on the system cause muscular spasms in his gut and thus triggers the crying spell.

Try burping him. If you’re feeding him halfway, stop to burp him and continue feeding.

Reason: Overstimulated

This is a long hard cry and is very similar to being tired. The whimpers and whine gradually build up to screaming with frustration.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

She’ll turn away from anyone trying to stimulate her. Observe if this happened after play time. It’s time to stop any activity and begin her nap/ bedtime routine.

Reason: Too Hot / Too Cold

Too Cold

Cry with very apparent bottom lip quivering, goosebumps visible and she may be shivering. In extreme cold, her skin may have a blue hue.

Too Hot

Fussing and panting sounds, and if left alone will eventually lead to a full on cry. You’ll know that she’s too hot if she feels sweaty, looks flushed, has a heat rash, and pants instead of breathing normally.

If her skin is clammy, she may be running a fever and it is best to take her temperature.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

If she is too cold, either turn up the temperature of the room or layer her up.

If she is too hot, a nice cool or lukewarm bath should do the trick. Sponge baths work too!

Reason: Loneliness

A low grizzle, then a moan, and then builds up to a cry if no attention was given.

Usually disappears the minute you pick her up. You’ll know this cry if she’s fed, slept, changed, and comfortable but she’s looking around trying to find you!

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

Don’t leave her to cry as this will affect her level of security and support.

You also need not pick her up immediately, but pat her on her back and speak to her to reassure her that you’re still around.

Not immediately picking her up helps with her confidence building and independence training.

Reason: Pooping

This happens frequently during feeding, as bowel movements are a reflex when babies eat. Watch out for grunts or cries during feeding, accompanied by squirming.

How to Pacify Crying Baby:

Nothing in particular. You’re not doing something wrong, just let it pass and continue feeding after the squirming stops or if you hear a very audible bowel movement (e.g., flatulence!)


There you have it! Cycle through the various possibilities depending on the previous activity and current activity, and you’ll most definitely figure out her cries and you’ll soon learn how to respond, and why she is crying.

Remember, keep your patience and know that your baby is just trying to communicate with you!


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