Baby Parenting Sleep & Settling

17 Tricks to Try When Baby Won’t Settle

Bub’s been fed, burped, changed, cuddled, swaddled and fed again. But, alas, the fussiness continues. 

So what do you do when baby won’t settle? Here are a few tricks of the trade you can try.

All babies go through fussy stages. And all mums struggle to figure out why and assume it’s their fault.

It’s not.

Sometimes babies just need a little extra loving to get them to settle down and accept sleep. And, sometimes mums need to dig deep to find that settling method that suits them.

Simple methods to settle baby

Not all of these settling methods are going to work with your bub. But, hopefully, one of these things will hold the secret to settling your baby and creating a less stressful environment for the whole family.

probiotics reduce colic

1. Bounce baby bounce!

Movement can cause baby to fall into a deep sleep. But it can take a lot of bouncing (or light jiggling). A car ride or pram walk might work but often you will find that the bouncing method will only work if you are doing the manual labour yourself.

On the plus side, all that bouncing is bound to be good for your biceps.

2. The Milkshake move

Dr Harvey Karp is a genius when it comes to self settling techniques. One of his most famous moves is The Milkshake which is a combination of a jiggle and a bounce. It’s supposed to help settle baby and get rid of any excess gas.

3. The Hold

Dr Robert Hamilton’s The Hold  is another must-try move for unsettled bubs. It’s all about getting the right position.

4. A colic mixture

Constant crying is not uncommon in newborns and many parents will turn to a colic formula to help settle their infant.

mum central Perth dad Steven Litas has concocted a mixture known as The Colic Mix, which is being hailed as the must-have solution for upset babies. You can pick it up from Litas’ northern Perth pharmacy or order it online.

5. A magic swing

Although all babies respond differently to the sensation of swinging back and forth, many infants love this motion. There are heaps of baby swings on the market, including popular ones from Fisher Price, Graco and 4Moms, all of which come with rave reviews from mums at the end of their tethers.

6. The special touch 

There’s a sweet spot on babies. It’s in between their eyes. Stroke them softly enough and you just may find that bub drifts off to sleep. Here’s the video on how to give it a try.

snoozy baby

7. Leg lifts

One of the reasons your wee one may be upset is because of the excess gas in their tummy. Let those bottom burps rip by gently lifting bub’s legs up and kicking them.

8. Probiotics

A recent study has confirmed that there is a specific probiotic called lactobacillus reuteri, proven to relieve colic in just three weeks. You can pick it up at your local chemist.

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9. David Bowie

Yes, the late great David Bowie isn’t just for adults. Babies love him too! It worked for this upset little bub (above), who went from screaming to sleeping after just 60 seconds of listening to Bowie’s Heroes.

10. White noise

Don’t have Bowie on the playlist? You can try different background noise as well, such as a vacuum cleaner, a fan or a CD of white noise (waves at the beach, light rain on the roof, etc).

11. The 5 S’s

This is another Harvey Karp gem which suggests parents use the following 5 S’s to help bub settle:

  • Swaddle
  • Side or stomach (Back sleep is the only recommend way for baby to sleep, but you can help bub settle by putting her on her side or stomach while holding her or helping her drift off)
  • Shush
  • Swing
  • Suck

Watch this video to see all five techniques in action.

12. Dairy-free diet

If you’re breastfeeding, you may find that the fussiness comes down to what you eat. And often the main issue lies in dairy. Give dairy the heave-ho for a week and see if that helps.

how to stop nut allergies in babies

13. The boob

Sometimes, babies just want to suck. And only the boob will do. If you find that your little one will only settle if she’s got your boob in her mouth, don’t fret. It’s perfectly normal for babies to want to comfort suck. All day and all night long.


Let bub comfort feed and enjoy the peace and quiet. If you want your breasts back, try a dummy. Sure, dummy habits can be tricky to ditch later on, but, when bub is little, they are also sanity-savers.

14. The no-colic bottle

For bottle-fed bubs, the crying cure may come down to a bottle. An American mum invented the first air-free bottle, which is designed to soothe colic and reflux. Give it a go to settle baby if you use a bottle to feed.

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15. H2Go-to-Sleep

Another trick that some mums swear by is running tap water. It is the only thing that would settle this little bubba. Simply bring bub into the bathroom with you, let the tap run and gently rock her to the sound of the dripping water.

16. Naked cuddles

All cuddles are good. But skin to skin cuddles are especially helpful to settling an upset infant. The warmth of your body, the smell of your skin and the sound of your beating heart may be all your little one needs to calm down.

17. Co-sleep

We all want our beds to ourselves. But, sorry mums, sometimes it’s just not in the cards. Co-sleeping may be what your baby wants. And it may be what you both need.

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If all else fails, take time out 

Babies can feel your anxiousness. And frustration. If you’re too wound up, then it can make it harder to get bubba to settle in your arms.

Take a ten minute break away from bubba. Give her to your partner or family member and walk away (preferably far enough away that you can’t hear her heartbreaking screams from the other room). Gather your thoughts, clear your mind, remind yourself that you’re doing everything right. And, once you’ve had a bit of a time out, try again.

Babies are tricky little human beings. But we mums are always up for a challenge! Want some more ammunition in the battle to get bub to sleep? Try these eight smart sleep-inducing products that other mums swear by.

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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