5 Steps to Calming your baby

calming baby


There are 5 steps to calming your baby. Your Baby has a calming reflex, and this can be used to soothe a crying baby. There are some steps to take and it is important to get the technique right, or you will likely make baby more upset. In this blog I will be telling you what the 5 steps are and how to use them affectively.

In those first few months, your baby is used to the conditions of the womb, they are cacooned in a warm and dark space. Food is on tap and they are soothed to sleep by a rocking motion. Now obviously babies have to come out of the birth canal at a certain point, or they simply wont fit through the birth canal, however it is important to recognise that human babies are pretty immature with their development at birth. Thats why the first 3 months are known as there fourth trimester as they catch up with development.

So the question is how do we mimic those womb like conditions? Well there are 5 steps.

  1. Swaddling – with a snug wrap
  2. Side/Stomach – laying them on their sides, although only if you are with them and not for sleep.
  3. Shushing – Vocally or with a Strong white noise
  4. Swinging – Tiny rhythmic, jiggly motions. (as little as one inch back and forwards)
  5. Sucking – Sucking on a nipple, a clean finger or dummy.

You may be thinking you have tried one or all of these and they didn’t work, however Harvey Karp, M.D describes in more detail the importance of technique when it comes to the above steps.

The 5 steps to calming your baby.


This method is used in many cultures. The Swaddle mimics the close, confined space of the womb. There are lots of products out there so it is important to use them in line with the individual guidelines. The swaddle needs to be secure when you put them in and although they may fight you initially, it doesnt mean they dont like it, but the flailing of their arms is likely upsetting them more. Make sure the swaddle is not too tight around their hips.

I have included the guidelines by the Lullaby trust in regard to sleep safety and swaddles. click here. 

Swaddling doesnt always work on its own, so what’s the next step?

Side / Stomach

Laying on their back is the most important position for sleep, however when your baby is upset, it can give them a feeling of panic and trigger their moro reflex. This can cause the thrashing arms again. For some babies, this is so effective in calming them down. If you are placing your baby in this position to settle them then always ensure you are with them at all times. We do not want them rolling completely on their front and getting stuck.


When babies are in the womb there is a whooshing noise from the blood rushing through the placenta and uterus, Strong white noise is a replication of this sound that they listening to for 9 months. In the fourth trimester, white noise can be every parents favourite tool in their tool belt. The level needs to match the level of crying, but do not have this to close to babies ears. Hair dryers and hoovers can be just as effective.


Womb like motion is one of the top baby calming methods. They have been used to motion so being put down with out motion when they are already upset can really escalate their cries. Initially you may need vigorous swinging BUT only 1 inch in movement, once the cries settle a little you can transition to more gentle swinging. Remember we are not shaking the baby, this is a rhythmic motion. This will switch on the calming reflex.

This is another reason why some babies love to be carried in slings too.


This can be one of the quickest ways to settle a baby. Nonnutritive sucking eg on a dummy, triggers the calming reflex. Breast or bottle feeding which is nutritive sucking also triggers the reflex. Obviously this also relieves hunger but it also releases soothing endorphins which leads to sleepy relaxation. ( When they fall asleep feeding )

“Your baby won’t just enjoy the 5 S’s, they will transport her into serenity. But only you do the S correctly. Swaddle too loosely, and your baby will struggle harder.Shush too softly, and her yelps will continue. Once she’s calm, though, continuing a low level of S’s- quieter sound and slower singing- will keep the reflex turned on.” The happiest baby on the block 

Lets not forget that a baby has a cry designed to get our attention and as a parent, we want to be able to soothe them. Sometimes it feels like nothing works. Dont ever take this as a sign of failure, your baby doesnt come with a manual so you are learning on the job