COMFORTING BABIES IS A HIGH-PRIORITY TASK. BABIES CRY. Babies fuss. Some toddlers wilt with worry when parents leave them for long hours in the care of others.

Babies have very basic self-soothing skills. They can suck a thumb or at least get a fist to the mouth, which may help to calm them. They can turn their heads away from a strong smell. But mostly, babies need a special person, a caring adult to comfort them.

The more you show a little one that you can be trusted to soothe a hurt, a startle, a tummy ache, or a wet, uncomfortable diaper, the more likely the child will quiet as soon as she feels your gentle touch and hears your reassuring voice. Babies learn quickly that they can trust you to find just the right ways to comfort them!

Your Soothing Touch

Your touch has magic soothing properties. Sometimes a crying baby needs to be held close to your body. She rests her head on your shoulder as you firmly and lovingly support her back, swaying from one foot to the other while you murmur soothing sounds.

Research shows that the more promptly you pick up and soothe a crying baby, the quicker the baby will stop crying. The baby who trusts that you can comfort him is more likely to stop crying within a short period of time when you pick him up for a cuddle.

Sometimes toddlers have a hard time settling to sleep in a new environment. Your rhythmic pats, 'round and 'round on a baby's back, reassure him that you are there for him, and he can drift gently to sleep. Babies develop confidence in your caring ways.

Calming Voice Tones

Organize all your body systems to help calm a baby. Be sure your voice tones are low, calm, and unhurried. Babies who are screaming get even more tense if they hear anxious, high-pitched urgent tones! Soothe baby with your reassuring voice.

Create a Comforting Environment

A serene and cozy environment with low noise levels comforts babies. Some babies are comforted for short periods by the gentle rhythmic swinging of a padded seat in a wind-up baby swing.

If you have very tiny babies in your care, you may find that a kangaroo pouch is your best means for soothing a new infant. When he is close to your body and feeling your even breath, the tiny baby is safely in tune with your body movements and rhythms. The pouch feels more peaceful and may help a very young infant adjust better to group care.

Be A Good Detective

Figure out what needs soothing and how best to soothe individual infants in distress situations. Marshal your best sleuthing skills! That is, diagnose as quickly as you can what a baby needs: A gentle series of pats to bring up a painful gas bubble? A diaper change? A walk around the room in your arms while you croon and describe the interesting scenes you slowly pass? A change of position in the crib?

Click here to view and download A Letter to Families (PDF)