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Soothing Secrets

The right touch

The standard advice: Give your baby a gentle massage.

Why it works: Touch stimulates pressure receptors in the brain that calm your baby. Research shows that long, smooth strokes work better than short, brisk ones.

How moms add their own twist: "One trick that worked with my two girls was to stroke their cheek with the tips of my index and middle finger," says Rajean Blomquist of Huber Heights, Ohio. "My older daughter, who's now 10, still asks me to do this whenever she's feeling stressed."

My own daughter, Anna, loves a back scratch  -- never a massage. It calmed her down in her earliest months, and five years later it still succeeds at putting her to sleep fast.

Many moms swear by the water method: giving their baby a bath. Use either an infant tub or the sink, and support her body the whole time. The sound of the running water and the warm touch on her skin will do the rest.