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Soothing a Crying Baby

For Medical Professionals

Learn the details of University of New Mexico Hospital’s shaken baby syndrome program and discover how to set up a similar initiative in your institution. 

When it seems like your baby won't stop crying, never shake him or her. Instead, try the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome's tips for calming him or her safely:

  • Feed your baby. Hunger is the main reason a baby will cry.
  • Burp your baby. Babies don't have a natural ability to get rid of air that builds up in their stomach.
  • Give your baby a lukewarm bath. Stay by his or her side throughout the bath.
  • Massage your baby. A gentle massage on a baby's back, arms or legs can be very comforting.
  • Make eye contact with your baby and smile. Eye-to-eye contact with your baby can distract and comfort him or her.
  • Kiss your baby. This can help lessen the tension during fierce crying episodes.
  • Sing softly. People around the world sing lullabies to calm babies.
  • Hum in a low tone against your baby's head. Dads often do this best.
  • Run a vacuum cleaner. Babies find white noise hypnotizing.
  • Take your baby for a ride in the car. The vibrations can induce sleep. Always make sure your baby is secure in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.  

Keep in mind that just because your baby won't stop crying, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or your baby. If you start to feel frustrated with your baby, place him or her in a crib or another safe place. Walk away for a few minutes, take some deep breaths and consider calling a friend. Be sure to check on your baby every five to 10 minutes.

Get Help

Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) at any time of day or night to get advice and support in caring for your baby, or to learn what to do if you suspect child abuse.

Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome

Never shake your baby to stop the crying, even if you feel stressed or frustrated. Shaking rattles a baby's brain and can cause lifelong damage, such as:

  • Blindness
  • Hearing loss
  • Trouble speaking, learning, remembering and paying attention
  • Paralysis  

If you give birth at University of New Mexico Hospital, your care team will tell you how to avoid shaken baby syndrome. To help your babysitter prevent infant brain damage, print and share one of the following flyers with tips on calming a fussy baby:

Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Seek medical attention for an infant who shows signs of shaken baby syndrome, including:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Poor sucking or swallowing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lack of smiling or vocalizing
  • Rigidity or seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unequal pupil size
  • An inability to lift the head
  • An inability to focus the eyes or track movement

View a video on shaken baby syndrome to see how brain damage has affected real children and their families. 

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