How To Soothe A Fussy Baby: The Five S’s

Crying in your newborn baby is a way to communicate their needs and feelings, from being hungry to needing a diaper change. In fact, It’s normal for a baby to cry for 2–3 hours a day for the first 6 weeks. Although normal, a fussy baby can take a toll, leaving parents frustrated, concerned, and exhausted. 

Soothing A Fussy Baby

The 5 S’s are a technique that helps to reduce the crying experienced by an infant. These efforts help mimic a womb-like environment that feels familiar to your newborn. Here at Wake Forest Pediatrics, we understand how important it is to be equipped with the tips and tricks to calm your fussy baby to sleep. By using these techniques, you can help to comfort your infant and get them to a place of comfort and relaxation. 

1. Swaddle

Swaddling is the process of wrapping your baby’s body snuggly in a thin blanket. By doing this, it resembles the womb and can help to calm and soothe your newborn. To swaddle your baby, spread out a thin blanket and fold over one corner. Lay your baby face up with their head at the edge of the folded corner. Holding your baby in place, pick up one corner of the blanket and bring it across your baby’s body. 

It is important to note that there are some risks to swaddling. The AAP recommends parents follow the safe sleep recommendations, such as placing them on a firm, flat surface so they don’t roll over when swaddled, having no loose blankets in your baby’s cribs, and not using weighted swaddled. 

2. Side Or Stomach Position

The NIH suggests that babies who sleep on their stomachs sleep for longer periods of time and are less likely to react to noise. However, putting a baby to sleep on its stomach increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). So, while putting your baby to bed in these positions is not a good idea, holding babies in a side or stomach position is ok. Holding them in this position activates a calming mechanism that can help them fall asleep. Once your baby is asleep, remember to place them on their back when putting them in their crib. 

3. Shush

Did you know that babies in the womb can start to hear noises at around 18 weeks of pregnancy? During this time, they can hear the sound of blood flow and the beating of their mom’s heart. Shushing is a sound that can help calm and comfort your fussy baby, as it mimics the sounds they heard in utero. Similar to shushing, white noise is another great option for trying to calm your baby. 

4. Swing

Another great technique for calming your fussy baby is to mimic the movements they felt in utero. This is referred to as “swinging.” Research shows that mimicking these movements reduces crying, quickens sleep onset, and improves overall sleep quality. To do this, support your baby’s neck and head while swinging your baby in tiny, fast movements— no more than one inch back and forth. Oftentimes, swinging is best when paired with shushing. 

5. Suck

Just as many of the options above, sucking is an action that reminds babies of being in the womb, which triggers an innate calming reflex. Pacifiers can soothe your baby, help them fall asleep, or be used as a temporary distraction. Not to mention it also lowers their heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. Additionally, sucking on a pacifier helps to calm your fussy baby while also reducing the risk of SIDs. 

Wake Forest Pediatrics strives to improve patient care by strengthening the patient-doctor relationship, providing open communication, and working as a team for a comprehensive approach to medical care. This includes providing assistance for parents dealing with a fussy baby. To talk to our team about a care plan for your newborn, call our Wake Forest office at 919-556-4779 or our Knightdale office at 919-266-5059 or make an appointment.

patient portal