our everyday life

How to Help Destress a Baby

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

Though it's hard to believe, little babies can and do experience stress. A stressed baby cries often and has a hard time relaxing and sleeping. This is not only hard on the baby, but hard on the parents as well. If you think your baby is feeling stressed, try soothing her the best you can. Sometimes, it simply takes a bit of experimenting to determine what methods work best to calm your baby down.

Answer his cries. When your baby cries, he's not trying to manipulate you. He's trying to communicate. It's impossible to spoil a baby, according to Zero to Three. And neglecting his needs as a baby can later impair the way he responds to kindness, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. If your baby is crying, he needs you.

Check her basic needs. Simple things like being hungry, dirty, cold, hot or sick can stress your baby out. If she's crying a lot, check and resolve these basics first.

Wrap him up tightly. Many young babies feel comforted when they are swaddled, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can use a large, thin blanket to do this, or purchase a commercial "swaddler."

Play calming music or noise. "White noise" machines can simulate the noises your baby heard in the womb, helping to calm her down. Alternatively, you may find that your baby responds well to a particular type of music, whether it's classical or heavy metal.

Comfort your baby. Babies respond differently to different comforting techniques. Some may want to be nursed, some carried and rocked, and others enjoy being snuggled next to you on the bed. Try different things to see what your baby likes.

Teach your baby to soothe himself. No parent is able to be at baby's side every minute of the day. Guiding his fingers to his mouth or offering a pacifier can help your baby learn how to calm himself down when you can't.

Remain calm yourself. Being around a crying baby is frustrating. If you start to get angry with her, she'll be able to feel this and it can increase her stress. Do your best to stay calm when around her. If you can't take it anymore, simply put the baby down in a safe place for a few minutes and express your frustrations in the other room. Get help from friends and relatives if you need it.

Items you will need
  •  CD player or white noise machine
  •  Swaddling blanket

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

  • David Woolley/Digital Vision/Getty Images