Of all the things you were worried about before your baby's arrival, comforting her probably wasn't one of them. Of course you'd know how to calm her tears -- and what would she have to be fussy about anyway? Reality check: The average infant cries anywhere from two to three hours a day, and any pediatrician will tell you that a huge percentage of phone calls come from parents desperate to calm their cranky charges. Sure, you can go through the proverbial checklist of possible problems: Is the baby wet? Hungry? Tired? But for the times when you've exhausted those possibilities and your baby is still crying, turn to these inventive ideas discovered by weary moms like you. These twists work on the same principles as soothing techniques in standard baby books, but may be easier for you to manage. Here's to some peace and quiet at last:
The standard advice: Gently bounce or rock your baby from side to side.
Why it works: The experts call it "vestibular motion," but most moms don't need big words to understand that moving a baby up and down and around as you hold her almost always helps, at least for a bit. The rhythmic swaying is calming because it resembles the movement that infants got used to in the womb, says Paula Elbirt, M.D., author of Dr. Paula's House Calls to Newborns: Birth Through Six Months. But any mom who's ever done some midnight pacing with a wailing baby knows how exhausting that can be.
How moms add their own twist: Dana McMahan of Richmond, California, has her husband, Josh, to thank for a way to keep their twins in motion that doesn't involve walking: "We used to do that awkward bounce-and-hold as we walked around the room with our girls," she says. "But Josh figured that if he was going to bounce, he might as well sit down. So he sat on a fitness ball and held the girls in the crook of each arm, with their heads against his chest. It worked so well that we've used it ever since!"
Emily Strong of Little River, California, discovered that using her stair-climbing machine calmed her 14-month-old, Eliza, who was miserable with an ear infection. As she waited for Eliza's meds to kick in, Strong held her and stepped up and down on the machine. "Thankfully, it worked when nothing else would distract her," she says.
Julie Tilsner is the author of Planet Parenthood and Attack of the Toddlers.