Feed the baby
burp the baby (having her/him high on your shoulder helps to push out the air, I'm told)
wrap her/him tightly (not to the point of cutting off circulation) in a blanket
change the diaper (or get someone else to do it)
sing
rock gently
get mom
give the baby a pacifier

If none of these work, the baby is probably crying for one of two reasons. Either you're evil or it's just time to cry. If the former is true, leave the baby in the arms of someone significantly less evil. If the latter is true, hold the baby and be nice until s/he falls asleep.

A few others that are just as important:

Sometimes Baby will have a bad day. Maybe teeth are coming in or they have diaper rash. Get some topicals and see if that helps (rash cream or mouth gel for teething pain.)

Silliness often works best to halt crying. Get theatrical! Pretend to cry and make some noise right alongside Baby. If the crying has been going on for long you could use this as a good way to unwind. Make fart noises, play airplane, hum through your fingers and wiggle your lips. Make up a song about how mad Baby is, complete with crazy vocal inflections. Do a stupid dance. The goofier you look, the better you will feel and the more likely Baby is to join in. If Baby has to stop crying to figure you out, you are on the right track. Stinky feet almost always works. Take a whiff of Baby’s foot. Fall off the couch in olfactory outrage. Say in shocked tone, “MAN! How did you fit so much stink on one foot? Let me try the other one!

If this does not work, or if it just gets worse, by all means stop acting like a goof ball and look for other causes. Maybe Baby has a tag poking into their tender baby neck. Perhaps their diaper tabs are poking them in the belly when they sit up. If they tug their ears or if the ear has an odor, Baby may have an earache. Look for a physical cause, like restrictive clothing, a bug bite or a scratch.

Surprise Baby with something new. For some reason whenever my wee ones would freak out (that red-faced hitch in the breathing pattern, high-pitched thing that makes your ears bleed), a cool wet wash cloth would always distract them. I did not DO any thing with it, just handed it over and suddenly they were lost in cool textures and seemed to forget why they were mad.

If everything seems fine and you have tried all of your tricks to no avail, you just wait it out. Remember Baby cries to tell you something is amiss. You are right to respond. If nothing seems to work and your patience is wearing thin, take a deep breath, smell their hair, put them somewhere safe and walk away for a few minutes (really, just a FEW). Still not working? Acknowledge your frustration. Cry if you want to. Call a friend. Sing. Breathe deeply. Imagine that you were that little baby and give yourself what you need.

Do not yell at the baby. It is OK to be mad or tired or sick of being caretaker for a cranky munchkin, but do not add to the situation with tense muscles, jerky motions or terse words. If you get to this point you need to back off. In other words, thoughts and feelings are fine and we all have them, but physical meanness toward a baby is unacceptable. If you feel violent or impulsively irritated NEVER, NEVER, NEVER shake the baby! This can cause immediate, irreparable brain damage or death. I repeat – DO NOT SHAKE A BABY, EVER.

Try not to invest yourself into their tantrum by making it a reason for you to be mad too. Sometimes you feel yucky and want to cry, and Baby does too. The object is not to shut the Baby up, but to make the Baby feel all right again and make sure they know you are there. Some babies cry a lot. Sometimes they go off because you expect it to happen. Sometimes the Baby is picking up your tension. Let them pick up your calm instead. Just remember that nothing lasts forever and relax.

It is like a rainstorm. You might be able to dance it away, or you might have to wait and let it be what it is. The sun will be back again, I swear.

I had an older relative, let's just call her Aunt May, who would recommend giving a particularly persistent crying babyI am not making this up—a small swatch of cloth soaked in bourbon.

God knows how her now grown children survived this treatment without brain damage, or an unhealthy lust for Southern Comfort.

Pretzellogic - that was a very common folk remedy. When kids are teething, their gums hurt and ache. The bourbon acted like an anesthetic, and it made their gums feel better.

I used to pick up my bawling babies and just rock with them. I'd end up deaf in one ear, but the rocking would sooth them enough so they'd go to sleep. Frozen teething rings helped too.

If all else fails, have their ears checked. Babies can get terrible earaches, and if they're running a slight fever, get them to the pediatrician ASAP. Earaches are exceptionally painful to little kids.

The man who invented the electric blender should be hailed as a saint. The reason? The motor on a cheap blender is loud enough (and hopefully sturdy enough) to instantly quiet any baby I've ever seen, and quite often lull them from a red-faced panic into sleep.

I'm running a blender at this very moment to quiet Ian, two months old with colic, who was up until five minutes ago screaming and crying because his mom had left and because his belly hurt. His pacifier just drooped out of his mouth, and he is dead asleep. Seriously, somebody could be doing dental work on this kid. Although I wouldn't recommend shutting off the blender until you're sure.

The only problem is that blenders aren't really designed to run 20-30 minutes at a time. While running one for 30 seconds and then stopping it will generally quiet the baby down momentarily, he or she will often get fussy soon after it is shut off. However, cheap blenders are often as low as $15, and often much much less at garage sales and the like. It doesn't have to be a $300 Bass-o-matic 5000 to quiet the kid down, and since noise is a plus it generally helps if it isn't.

As a side note, vacuums and white noise makers often work as well, but there's something about the tone and level of a blender that seems to work better for me.

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