How to Keep Your Cool When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying

If you’ve ever had a newborn, then it doesn’t surprise you to hear that babies cry. Sometimes they cry quite a bit. In fact, sometimes they cry inconsolably for hours with no apparent reason for the crying.

It’s difficult to listen to your baby cry when nothing you do will calm him or her. Here are simple strategies to help you remain calm when this happens.

There are many great articles out there that suggest strategies to calm fussy newborns (see a couple examples here and here). That isn’t the point of this post, though. This post is about YOU. How can you stay calm and collected when faced with incessant crying?

You are biologically programmed to respond to your infant’s cries, so it’s no surprise that you find it difficult to continuously hear the cries when nothing you do seems to alleviate your baby’s discomfort. I know it’s difficult because I’ve been there. In times like this it is hard to act kindly towards your spouse and/or older children, to care for yourself, and even to stay calm and not “lose it” with your baby.

I have encouraging news for you today: You can stay calm when faced with an inconsolable infant. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s also not complicated. Here are some simple strategies to help you remain calm when your baby won’t stop crying.

How to stay calm when your baby cries inconsolably

  • Remind yourself that you are not a bad parent. When you can’t console your baby, you may begin to wonder if you are a bad parent. You’re not. Don’t believe the lie that a crying baby indicates you are somehow insufficient. Remember that crying—even for prolonged periods of time—is a completely normal behavior for infants (source).
  • Step away from your baby for a few minutes. If you feel your frustration building, it is okay to place your baby down in a safe place (e.g., the crib, a bouncer, a swing) and step out of the room for a few minutes. Go make yourself a cup of tea, wash your face, or eat a snack. You’ll feel much better if you do! I’m not advocating that you let your newborn “cry it out,” but a short break for you is often necessary to get refreshed so you are able to patiently face the crying again.
  • Ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to watch your baby so you can have a break. Sometimes you just need a break so you can take a nap, shower, or get out of the house for a few minutes. If you have a friend, family member, or neighbor who can be trusted with your baby, then consider asking if he or she will watch your little one for a short time so you can get away for a bit. If these individuals are parents, then they will understand your need for a break! This time away can do you a world of good.
  • Listen to music. Music can help camouflage the sound of the crying so it is less noticeable. It also gives your mind something to focus on, which is a very welcome distraction after hearing wailing for hours. My husband found it particularly helpful to use headphones when he would rock or pace with my firstborn. Muffling the loud cries helped him handle the sound so he could continue comforting her without growing frustrated.
  • Go outside. When you’ve been attending to a crying baby for some time, a change of scenery can be really refreshing. This isn’t the only reason to go outside, though. When you’re inside, the sound of your baby’s cries are trapped around you by the walls. When you go outside, the sound of the cries can spread into the environment around you, making them seem so much less intense! If at all possible, take your baby on a walk or even just out onto a porch or balcony in order to benefit from this.
  • Review Bible verses and pray. If you’re a Christian, then this strategy really should be among the first (if not the first) strategy you use. God invites us to come before Him with our needs (Hebrews 4:16). We should ask Him for patience with our babies and for an understanding of how to help them feel better. God provides many words of encouragement for us in the Bible. When my firstborn was a newborn, I compiled this list of Scripture verses to calm mom when baby won’t stop crying. That post includes a set of printable Scripture cards that you can download and print in order to keep the verses on hand for review whenever you need them the most.

The reality is that the crying won’t last forever. Someday your baby will be less fussy! I know that this sounds terse and hollow when you’re in the thick of it. However, it may be a little encouraging if you can keep it somewhere in the back of your mind.

What strategies am I missing? What things did you do (or do you currently do) to help yourself stay calm and collected?

Shared at the following:

The Art of Homemaking, Small Victories Sunday, Making Your Home Sing, Monday’s Musings, Tuesday Talk, Shine Blog Hop, and Titus 2 Tuesday.

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Comments

  1. I agree wholeheartedly to these! Prayer is definitely so important. I find it helpful to have specific people or intentions I want to pray for, because that way I can also focus on those instead of on the fact that I have a screaming newborn in my arms 😉

    My husband and I have also found that putting him down can be very helpful. If Peter’s diaper is clean, he’s fed, and he’s burped-but he still is furious-we’ll swaddle him and take a break. Occasionally, he’ll even stop crying when we do this! (maybe sometimes newborns just need a good cry for no reason?) I also find it helpful to not look at the clock. It’d be really easy to glance at the clock and think, “Wow, he’s been crying for ___ minutes/hours” and get really glum, I think.

    • Hi AnneMarie,
      Good point about having specific people or issues that you can pray about to keep your mind focused on something other than the screaming.
      Sometimes I wonder if babies don’t get over stimulated and this is why they sometimes calm when you finally put them down after trying to calm them for so long. Perhaps they need a brief break…just like we do. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this! As mom’s we never set out to hurt our children but sometimes in the heat of the moment, if we aren’t careful something could happen. I am an adoptive mom and have seen little one’s who’s parents have lost control, I don’t condemn them, many times they don’t have support systems in place. Bless you as you continue sharing Jesus love and words of wisdom!

    • Hi Sandra,
      My fist experience with a shaken baby was when I was in nursing school. I helped care for a hospitalized infant who had suffered brain damage after being shaken. I remember wondering how parents could do that to their child.
      It wasn’t until I had my oldest child that I understood how hard it could be. She cried so much during those first few months that I finally understood how parents–even good parents–could get desperate. Thankfully, I had the coping skills to step away when I needed to and was able to get through that difficult time, but I now see how much we need to support and encourage each other so all moms and dads are able to cope when faced with parenting challenges.

  3. Some good ideas. I found mine cry because their stomachs are upset, and that depends precisely on what I eat as I’m breastfeeding. I found the Dunstan Baby Language very helpful for knowing what each cry means, as did my husband and sister who lives with us. I have a 3 year old and 7 week old. Another tip my husband’s aunt who is a midwife told us is that diluted lavender oil can calm them down when you apply it to their feet.

    • Great tips, Lizzy! We didn’t hear about Dunstan Baby Language until my oldest was too old for it to be relevant. I should have reviewed it before having our second.

  4. Oh gosh, this is such a hard part of babies. My first son had pretty horrible colic for 3-4 months and then after that was still a very, very fussy baby. I definitely think that getting out of the house or outside is SUCH a big help for everyone!

  5. Such important reminders. One thing I also sometimes do is to just lay there with Baby. No matter what I *need* to be doing or even *want* to be doing, sometimes I find it’s more healing and helpful for us all if I just lay with Baby. In that time, I can soak up the reality, I can calm down (or stay calmer), rest for a few minutes, and get back to a more loving place. 🙂

    • I sometimes just lie with baby too, and toddler if she is inconsolable!

    • Hi Kendall,
      Great suggestion! I agree that this can help calm us.
      I must say, though, that this was a lot easier to do with my firstborn…it’s not so easy with a toddler running around. 😉

  6. Absolutely, Shannon. Scripture and prayer should be foremost in any parenting endeavor. I loved this post-sharing across SM and with my Fb readers as well!

    Your post with the printable Scriptures sounds good too. I pray many young moms will be comforted and encouraged through this. It’s so easy to become frustrated as a mom of a newborn, even though we feel “less than” for admitting it!

    • Thanks, Ruthie!
      Your last statement there is so important for us to realize and overcome. Many times we do feel embarrassed or as though we’ll be looked down upon if we admit we feel frustrated or need help. We must learn to support one another better so moms don’t feel this way!

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