How to Calm a Fussy Newborn

Alongside a trillion other questions and concerns that come with bringing home a new baby (*especially for a first-time mama!) is this super common one…how do I help soothe and calm my newborn? 


Wondering how to calm a fussy newborn is extremely tough when you feel like you’ve already checked all of the boxes. So what do you do when you know your baby isn’t hungry or poopy but is still super fussy?


In this blog, I’m going to talk about…


Why is my baby so fussy?


Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s for Soothing Babies


Other Tricks to Calm a Fussy Newborn


Remember that all babies are different. Some babies will like certain calming strategies more than others. The good news is, there are SO many to try! 



Why is my baby so fussy?


Our tiny new babies can be VERY cranky. Besides being overtired, overtired, hungry, or poopy, discomfort is another factor that can lead to newborn fussiness. 


Remember, they are brand new to this world and to their little bodies! While they’re growing and developing, it isn’t uncommon for them to experience some sort of discomfort, which is usually the culprit. Here are a few specific pain points you will want to look into:




While your baby swallowing air here and there is totally normal (hello eating, crying, sucking on a pacifier, etc.), some babies may have a more difficult time releasing that extra gas on their own. This can become uncomfortable if the gas becomes trapped. Some signs of gas include:

  • Bloating
  • Sharp/sudden cries
  • Hard Belly
  • Squirming and fussing


Check out this video for one of my favorite positions that can help with tricky gas!


How to Calm a Funny Newborn Instagram Reel | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch this gas hack reel on Instagram.




The reason many babies spit up a lot is because their lower esophageal sphincter isn’t toned yet. The lower esophageal sphincter is a muscle between our esophagus and our stomach. It’s what helps keep down everything we eat or drink. 


Since that muscle is so brand new in their little bodies, some experience more spit up than others. For some babies, that spit up can really burn and lead to more fussiness. Here are some signs of reflux:

  • Upset right after eating
  • Sour breath
  • Stinky spit up
  • Mad when laid down/happier when upright


The best thing you can do is get to the bottom of it quickly! Talk to your pediatrician about your little one’s symptoms…sometimes reflux is the result of a food intolerance or an overproduction of stomach acid. 


Tongue and Lip Tie


A lip tie is when a baby’s frenum (the skin that attaches your top lip to your gums) comes down really low and restricts lip movement. A tongue tie is the same, except with the skin that attaches your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. 


My biggest piece of advice is to go see a specialist! Correcting a tongue or lip tie is normally a quick and easy fix that can make so much difference.


Watch this video to learn the signs of a tongue or lip tie!


How to Calm a Fussy Newborn With Tongue Tie Instagram Reel | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch the signs of a tongue or lip tie reel on Instagram.



Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s for Soothing Babies


If you’ve been around here for a while, you have probably heard me mention Dr. Harvey Karp’s name. Dr. Karp is the author of “Happiest Baby on the Block,” and is the one who came up with the infamous 5 S’s for soothing


Dr. Karp explains how newborns are in a sort of “4th trimester”. Each of the S’s does something to mimic womb life as much as possible:


1. Swaddle


This one is for newborns who are NOT rolling yet! Being in a snug swaddle mimics the warm, tight environment of the womb.


Check out this tutorial for nailing a perfect swaddle.


How to Calm a Fussy Newborn With a Swaddle | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch the swaddle tutorial on Instagram.


2. Side or Stomach Position


Know that back is best for baby sleep. When it comes to holding and soothing your baby, having them in a side position can work wonders. Try holding them close and facing more towards your chest while you soothe. 


3. Shhh-ing sounds


Making a whooshing sound with your voice or with a noise machine reminds them of the constant and calming whooshing sound they heard while in the womb. 


4. Swing


When you gently swing your little baby side to side, it mimics how their eyes would move in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.


Check out this video for more on swinging!


How to Calm a Fussy Newborn | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch the swinging and soothing reel on Instagram.


5. Sucking


Sucking is INCREDIBLY soothing for a baby whether it’s during breastfeeding, a bottle, or with a pacifier.


I find that each of Dr. Harvey Karp’s S’s for soothing is amazing. Still, there’s one more “S” I want to include: 


6. Stroking…the Eyebrow Stroke, that is. 


The eyebrow stroke seriously works like magic! Gently stroking along their eyebrows and across their forehead is both soothing AND encourages them to close their eyes.


Watch this reel to see how the eyebrow stroke works.


How to Calm a Fussy Newborn | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch the magic of the eyebrow stroke on Instagram.



Other Tricks to Calm a Fussy Newborn


As I mentioned earlier, there are SO many different (common and uncommon) tricks for soothing a fussy newborn. Here’s a list of a few more favorites if you’re looking to try other options:


Baby Wearing


Baby wearing is a great option for having lots of snuggle time without limiting your mobility too much. Much like a lot of Dr. Harvey Karp’s soothing techniques, baby wearing mimics how close and scrunched up to you they were for 9 months in the womb.


Going Outside


I’m a big believer that a little fresh air is good for all of us!


Giving a Bath


Bathtime can be super soothing for many babies. A SUPER soothing bathtime hack is to wrap them in a wet towel during the bath. This helps keep them warm!


Baby Massage


I mean…who DOESN’T love a massage?!


Check out this video for baby massage tips and to see just how enjoyable it can be.


How to Calm a Fussy Newborn | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch the baby massage reel on TikTok.


Make Some Noise


It may sound counterintuitive, but turning on a fan or running the vacuum can be a helpful and soothing distraction. 



Recap on How to Calm a Fussy Newborn


It can be confusing, tiring, and sad to watch our new babies fuss. The good news is, there are SO many tricks you can try to help soothe your little one. 


With all the amazing soothing tricks out there to try, make sure you are trusting your mom gut. While fussiness can often be linked to things like gas or tiredness, it can also be a sign of an underlying issue. If you think this could be the case, make an appointment and consult with your pediatrician. 


For better newborn sleep, check out my 0-4 Months Course. It goes over the fundamentals of healthy sleep and gives you the tools you need to keep your little one happy, content, and sleeping well.


And remember, I have a team of incredible sleep consultants ready to support you in whichever way is best for you and your family.

Christine Lawler

Christine Lawler

MS, LMFT, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Hi! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, practicing for over 13 years. I’ve set out to do ALL of the research and I created a method to optimize baby sleep that is tuned in, empowering and WORKS. There absolutely should be joy in motherhood, and I have learned that every baby CAN get better sleep!

Read more about my team here.

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