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Soothing Secrets

Noisemakers

The standard advice: Turn on a fan in the nursery.

Why it works: A baby's developing neurological system isn't able to tune out surrounding stimuli yet. White noise helps shut out everything else.

How moms add their own twist: Jill Whalen of Ashland, Massachusetts, stumbled into her kitchen late one night with her crying baby. She turned on the tap to get a drink of water  -- and Timmy, 1 month old, stopped crying. She turned it off, and he started up again. On, off, on, off. And so it went, until his crying tapered off. Radio static worked equally well, and Timmy spent the first three months of his life listening calmly to nothing on the radio. "I just discovered this by mistake!" Whalen says. "I wish somebody had told me about it earlier."

Other moms find that, contrary to common wisdom, noises that are considered triggers for crying can be just the opposite. Jen Grogono figured out that her baby not only didn't pitch a fit in a restaurant, but the background din actually put him to sleep. The Austin, Texas, mom dined out a lot in those early days.

Unfortunately for Joyce Grzybek of Ramsey, New Jersey, her infant son, Kevin, quieted down only to the sound of the vacuum cleaner. But at least her carpets were spotless. Tape recordings of running water or the vacuum may work just as well (but your house won't be as clean).

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