Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Settling a crying baby

4-minute read

All babies cry since it's their way of communicating that they need something. Sometimes it's easy to work out what it is, but sometimes it isn't. Trying to soothe a crying baby can be tiring and stressful.

Why babies cry

Crying is normal. Common reasons for crying include being hungry, tired, scared or uncomfortable, or having a wet nappy. In most cases, the cause is not a medical problem.

How much crying

All babies are different. At 6 to 8 weeks, babies often cry for a total of 2 to 3 hours in a 24-hour period. Some babies seem to cry more than others. Crying can last for 5 hours in a 24 hour period, or more. When a baby is crying a lot it is sometimes called colic.

The crying usually peaks at 6 to 8 weeks and lessens by 3 to 4 months of age. By 4 to 5 months, most babies have become more settled although some may continue to cry for longer.

How to settle a crying baby

Try not to let your baby become really distressed before you respond to their cries. You cannot ‘spoil’ a baby by being responsive or by cuddling them too much. Here are some ways to settle a baby.


First, consider whether your baby is hungry. Try offering a breastfeed or if the baby is formula fed, you could try giving the next bottle a little earlier. Your nurse or doctor can advise you on feeding and the amount of milk your baby needs. If you are breastfeeding, you can also call the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s helpline on 1800 686 268.


If your baby has fed in the past 2 hours, you can offer something to suck, like a dummy. Some babies may suck on their fist, fingers or thumb.

Cuddling or holding

Try holding your baby close to you so they can feel your heartbeat. You can also try talking or singing gently and quietly to your baby to soothe them.


If your newborn baby has been awake for a while, try swaddling to help them feel secure. Try to make the room dark or quiet to reduce stimulation.

Changing their nappy or clothing

Check if your baby has a wet or dirty nappy that needs changing. Also check if they are too hot or too cold and whether their clothing is comfortable (not too tight, for example).


Gentle movement can help pacify some babies. Try gently rocking your baby in your arms, but avoid fast or rough movements, which can be dangerous. Or, you can put your baby in a pram or approved sling and walk around outside.


If your baby likes it, a warm bath may help them calm down.

Baby massage

You can try giving your baby a massage with a nut-free oil. Keep the room warm enough so they are comfortable.

Tips to settle a crying baby - video

Video provided by Raising Children Network.

What to do if nothing is working

It can be very upsetting and frustrating if nothing you try seems to be working. Never shake your baby since it can cause bleeding in their brain and could result in brain damage. If you feel like you are losing control, put the baby down in a safe place for a few minutes while you calm down. If possible, ask somebody to take over the settling.

It may also help to phone a friend, or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 for advice or support.

See a doctor if your baby cries excessively or their cries are unusual, or if they seem unwell or have other symptoms such as vomiting or a fever.

Where to get help

Talk to your doctor or child health nurse if you are concerned about your baby, or if you find it difficult to cope or feel positive about your baby. You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

How to Settle A Crying Baby | Tresillian

Need advice on how to calm a crying baby? Crying is a normal behaviour and your baby’s way of communicating with you. Learn how to settle baby and what to do when baby won’t stop crying.

Read more on Tresillian website

Settling a crying baby

A crying baby needs love and attention. There are many things parents can do to settle a crying baby.

Read more on Parenthub website

Coping with colic and a crying baby

Babies with colic may cry a lot and new parents often feel anxious. But there are many things parents can do to make coping with baby colic easier.

Read more on Parenthub website

Settling Overtired Baby or Toddler To Sleep | Tresillian

Top baby tips and advice on how to settle your crying baby. We’ll show you how to recognise tired signs or cues and advise on settling techniques for your baby.

Read more on Tresillian website

Settling your baby to sleep - Ngala

Being able to settle off to sleep is a learned skill for most babies

Read more on Ngala website

Settling Your Crying Baby | Tresillian

Crying is a signal (cue) that lets you know that your baby needs help and support. Tresillian offers advice on helping you and your baby cope during crying periods.

Read more on Tresillian website

What is colic? Signs of colic

Recognise the signs of colic crying and when it isn’t colic and you should take your baby to a doctor.

Read more on Parenthub website

Colic in infants -

Colic is a pattern of unexplained, excessive crying in an otherwise healthy and well-fed baby and happens to 1 in 5 Australian babies.

Read more on myDr website

Crying Baby | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Crying is a normal part of your baby’s development and is normal for all babies from all cultural backgrounds

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Baby Advice & Tips| Tresillian

Asking for help is important during your baby’s first year. Get baby tips and advice on topics such as how to settle a crying baby, breastfeeding and daily routines.

Read more on Tresillian website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.