A baby is shown crying as they lie in bed.
The 5 S’s are to be used after you’ve checked to see if baby has his or her needs met. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

In one of my recent blog posts, “Crying?! What does it mean?”, we talked about how it’s normal for babies to cry, though some cry more than others.

Now let’s focus on ways in which we can soothe that crying baby. One site shared the 5 S’s that have been shown to quickly soothe a crying baby:

  • Swaddling
  • Shushing
  • Swinging
  • Side-on position
  • Suck

These can be used separately, or together. Remember to try them at different times, because even if it didn’t work before, one of them might this time. Let’s explore each of these a bit more.


One suggestion for swaddling is using a sleep sack or learning to swaddle your baby by using a receiving blanket. This can comfort most babies due to the fact that even though your baby now has lots of room to move, while in-utero they were confined and tucked in. Here is a diagram that shows how to swaddle; this is what I teach to the new siblings in our Big Kids Class.


This is making noise like “Shh, Shh, Shh.” Another option is noise that might sound what it was like when your baby was in the womb. A fan or even some relaxation music has a noise that can be comforting to baby. I remember one of our nurses years ago used a vacuum. She said her baby loved that noise and it helped when baby was fussy. Mom also held her on her tummy over her one arm as she vacuumed with the other. Your baby knows your voice, so try talking or singing to your baby. Music is also another option. There are also lullabies that sound similar to being in the womb.


This is movement. Some babies like to be rocked either in a chair or while standing. As my mom held our 7-week-old grandson, she commented on how it’s funny that baby can tell if you are walking or if you sit down. They seem to prefer standing and swaying. If walking around or sitting in a rocking chair doesn’t calm baby, try a stroller or swing. I’ve also known parents who have taken baby for a drive to calm them. The motion of the driving helped baby. Dancing with your baby can also be enjoyable to them.

Side-on position

As I mentioned, some babies prefer to be held over your arm facing down when fussy. Infant massage can also be a great option. This is something you’d want to start before the baby is fussy. So if your baby gets cranky around 7 p.m. you’d start about 6:30 p.m. We offer basic instruction on infant massage in our Childbirth Classes.


Remember that sucking is a reflex for babies. It ceases to be a reflex when baby is about two to three months old. For nursing babies, comfort can be provided in this way. Babies have the need to suck, but that doesn’t mean they are always hungry. A pacifier can be helpful. Pacifiers are also suggested by the Safe Sleep Campaign, but not recommended until breastfeeding is well established.

The 5 S’s are to be used after you’ve checked to see if baby has his or her needs met. Sometimes these things don’t work for baby. If your baby’s needs are taken care of, put baby down on his or her back and leave the room, or have someone else watch baby and take a bubble bath or relax.