Crying from your baby is completely normal and to be expected. Even new parents will have been warned several times by family, friends or medical professionals that crying is something they must prepare for. However, it’s sometimes underestimated how much crying will actually take place and for how long.
When you’re forced to ask your little one (as adorable as they are when they’re not wailing) “why won’t you stop crying!?” It can be helpful to have a few tips and tricks to try in the hope of getting your baby to stop crying at night.
In this article, we explore some quick and easy activities you can experiment with when your child seems inconsolable.
Why Do Babies Not Stop Crying?
Learning how to stop your baby from crying at night should be informed by a general understanding of why babies cry in the first place. The most important thing to know is that crying is usually a way of communicating something to the adults around them.
Major reasons your baby might cry include:
- Hunger is a primary reason your baby will start crying. However, if your baby is hungry for a long time before being fed, they may end up working themselves into a frenzy which is hard to come down from even after you’ve filled their bellies. And if they have gas caused by drinking too quickly, it can take even longer for them to be pacified.
- An illness or pain such as toothache can be the culprit for discomfort and crying. Addressing the root cause of your baby’s crying is the best way to get them to stop, and none of our tips below are going to help if there’s something deeper that’s bothering them.
- Babies that are overtired and/or have had too much stimulation during the day will find it much harder to relax. Their crying in these situations is letting you know they’re a little too worked up to rest properly. Noise, light and human interaction in large doses should be avoided until they’re slightly older.
- Crying while your baby is actually asleep may be a sign that they are having a nightmare, which can occur during light sleep, or random eye movement sleep.
The most important thing to know is that crying is usually a way of communicating something to the people around them.
How to Stop Your Baby Crying At Night - Top Tips
An inconsolable baby is undesirable for many reasons. But before you give up hope and resign yourself to the quite jarring sound of your baby wailing loudly at night, consider cycling through some of the below activities.
Even if you’ve tried one of these before with no success, it can sometimes be unpredictable what your little one ends up responding to on any given night.
Turn Up the Tunes
You might already have tried lullabies, so why not try something else? Different genres and tempos can have a way of synchronising with your child’s mood or snapping them out of their crying phase.
If you can find success with the kind of music you like yourself, that’s perfect. If not, be experimental and try things like Classical, Jazz, Reggae or Folk to see what resonates with your baby.
Admittedly, it’s probably not that likely your child will be able to drop off if you’re playing anything too intense like Rock music, but crazier things have happened! It could be the case that something more energetic snaps your child out of their wailing long enough for you to introduce some well-needed calm.
If all this also helps to lighten your mood too, it could be the case that your calmer state and lowered heart rate will also rub off on your baby. After hours of crying there’s no shame in losing your composure, but unfortunately this is something that kids pick up on and can stop them from relaxing.
Also, if you think you’ve got a good voice (and even if you haven’t) why not have a go at singing along too. The sound of your voice and the natural vibrations your baby feels when being held could be incredibly soothing for them.
Try Some White Noise
The sound of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, or a playlist of rainfall can really help a baby switch off. Some say this is because it replicates the kind of constant and muffled sound that babies hear when they’re in the womb. If you’re choosing an ocean soundtrack, just avoid anything with distinct birds chirping or other jarring sounds.
You might also find that this blocks out any noises coming from your house or outside, which may have been preventing your child from sleeping. It’s worth remembering that it’s normal for a child’s Moro reflex to kick in when they are exposed to slight disturbances (noise, light, movement etc.).
Make It Darker
Turn literally everything off. Forget any advice you’ve received about nightlights being soothing or dark rooms being scary for babies, the best way your child is going to get to sleep is in a completely dark and silent room (unless you are intentionally playing white noise or music).
If you’re having a difficult time achieving this, or if your blinds simply let too much residual light through the cracks, you may need to consider investing in some blackout curtains. During summer months and longer days, it can be hard to completely eliminate natural light with normal curtains or blinds when the sun's still shining strongly.
If you haven’t already switched off your mobile and other electronic devices, make sure you do this too. Small flashes or vibrations are enough to trigger your baby after you finally put them down to rest.
Change the Scenery
A gentle stroll around the garden or on your street (assuming there’s nothing too loud or distracting going on outside) can help your little one to calm down. They may also stop crying as their senses adjust to the different smells and sounds around them.
As a parent who has been standing or sitting in a dark room for hours figuring out how to stop your baby from crying at night, simply getting out of the house can help keep you sane. The fresh air and space can settle your nerves and give you the strength you need to go back in and try again (if your baby is still crying).
Give Them to Someone Else
Sometimes all it takes is someone else holding your baby. It can be incredibly frustrating when this happens after you’ve put so much effort into trying to calm them yourself, but it’s worth a shot if you're in a fix.
Even a sibling or friend can offer a kind of calming distraction and give your little one what they need to settle down long enough for them to sleep.
Allowing yourself to leave the house and recalibrate can also have a huge effect on the vibes you are giving off. So when you’re more relaxed and calm, this can influence how your baby feels when you come back and hold your baby once again.
Try Some Baby Pampering
Some proactive pampering tricks can help to stop your baby from crying at night when you can't think of anything else to do. Even if you’re already implemented your normal bedtime routine, consider doing one of the following things.
- Give them a baby massage
- Try a warm bath
- Give them cuddles
- Sing them a lullaby
- Rock or bounce your baby on your lap
We’ve got a whole list of other soothing techniques in our post: How to Soothe a Baby - 10 Simple Ideas
Just Stopped Swaddling? Try Our Zipadee-Zip!
If you’ve recently stopped swaddling your baby at the 2 month period, it could be the case that your child is struggling to adjust to life without it. This can make it much harder to get them to settle.
A good alternative is trying a sleep sack that offers a good amount of restrictive comfort and coziness without any of the health risks of swaddling your baby past a certain age. Our Zipadee-Zips, for example, have a star-shaped pointed sleeve and star-fish design that is created to improve sleep.
We made this to prevent babies starting from the Moro reflex while giving parents a reliable (and adorable) swaddle transition product that imitates the cozy sensation babies enjoy so much in the swaddle and the womb.
No matter how frustrated you feel, don’t shake your baby. Shaken baby syndrome, resulting from this act, is a kind of abusive head trauma that can give your baby brain damage.
It’s probably not likely that you will shake your baby in a way that will lead to this (gentle rocking and bouncing is fine as long as it's not too vigorous), but it’s worth understanding that this is not always caused by poor parenting alone and often stems from stresses at home, the outside stressors created by work, social, and/or financial challenges, according to the CDC.
If you are feeling any of these things or a decline in your mental health, do what you can to take a moment and recalibrate. It can also help to:
- Ask for help from others (partner, friends, family, caregiver, medical professional)
- Take a break from the situation
- Create a stress-prevention plan for yourself
- Consult a doctor about inconsolable crying for reassurance and advice
- Remember that when your child gets older crying will be much less frequent
Finding ways to ease your stress can be just as effective at calming your baby as methods that solely focus on them. When learning how to stop your baby from crying at night, you should also be considerate of your role as their main source of comfort and structure. If you’re not feeling well or are stressed, it’s always going to be harder for you to create the kind of zen atmosphere your baby needs to sleep.
Also, if a technique or method seems a bit “wild” or dangerous, it probably is. A quick and 100% effective fix for baby crying, (despite all of us having prayed for this at one time or another) doesn’t exist.
As hard as it is to sustain sometimes, patience and consistency are probably your best weapons when it comes to learning how to stop your baby from crying at night.
Together with some general resilience to your baby’s crying, observing your baby calmy to understand their needs while having the strength to see through your overall sleep training plan is what will really help to reduce nighttime crying in the long run.
Sometimes your baby will just decide that it’s time to cry and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. Accepting this fact and managing to stay sane is what you should focus on in these situations, rather than panicking or re-trying every sleeping technique you’ve already tried.
As long as you do the important checks for things like hunger and illness, it’s not the end of the world if your child has a few nights of heavy crying.