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Newborn Crying: Using the 5 S’s to Soothe Baby

A crying baby is a stressful situation. They’re screaming, you’re panicking, and we usually go to our default mode. Many parents fall into the trap of jumping straight into a feeding when their baby becomes fussy. It can stop the crying now, but it negatively affects the future of your baby’s schedule.

Babies that are fed each time they cry get into a pattern of snacking – or eating every hour to hour and a half. They rely on being fed more often and eat less each feeding time. Eventually, they will lose the scope of getting a full feeding that sets them up for a solid nap. And soon, your baby will need to be fed to fall asleep, while the goal is to separate sleep from feeding.

You might then think instead of feeding, you’ll try to use a pacifier to comfort the baby. But when they are upset, they might not take to it. Next time your baby is inconsolable, try using the 5 S’s to soothe your baby: swaddle, side-lying, shush, swing, and suck.

Swaddle: First, put the baby in a swaddle. Make sure to get both arms and legs in the swaddle and keep them contained nice and tight.

Side-lying: Next, you will hold your baby in the side-lying position. Essentially, this means your baby will face outward in your arms with their head resting in your arm and elbow. It’s essential to face your baby this way because, to them, inward-facing holding means feeding. When you hold your baby inwards, they may start rooting around, and when they don’t get food, they become more irritable.  

Shush: While holding your baby in the side-lying position, lean to their ear and softly make a “shhhhhh” sound. This manmade sound machine can work wonders for calming your baby.

Swing: As you shush the baby, swing or sway them back and forth consistently. The motion will soothe the baby and allow you to move to the final step.

Suck: Once swaddled, side-lying, shushed, and swung, your baby will begin to calm if they are tired and not truly hungry. Now try to use the pacifier. They will be much more likely to take to it once contained in a soothing environment.

These 5 S’s can be a lifesaver for a fussy baby. Sometimes, they are just uncomfortable or gassy. And if your baby is experiencing any sort of GI discomfort, adding an extra feed will only cause gas and additional distress.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to taking care of our babies, but there are resources to help. You can use Baby Playbook by ParentMD as a guide for your baby’s first year. It’s been created by board-certified pediatricians who can help you ease your journey through parenthood.

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