Mom's voice helps calm and soothe a fussy newborn.

Sounds That Calm Newborns

by David B. Ryan

Parents, medical scientists and behavioral researchers have different theories about the best sounds to calm newborns, but babies have personal tastes when it comes to soothing sounds. Some common noises, however, help create calm for many new babies. Developing a list of what your newborn enjoys saves other family members and caregivers time in locating soothing sounds when your child fusses and you're away. The March of Dimes recommends contacting your pediatrician if your newborn has longer than usual periods of fussiness or crying.

The Sound of Your Voice

Babies find familiar voices comforting and soft talk from parents calm fussy newborns. Holding your baby and offering comforting words in a low voice or softly humming a song helps soothe baby. Parents need to identify the newborn's sleep or waking state and offer words when baby is awake and soft humming for a calming effect during a sleepy period. Babies have the ability to hear from 20 weeks gestation, and have sense development sometime during the second trimester, according to Barbara A. Hotelling, registered childbirth educator and former president of Lamaze International, so your newborn has the ability to hear and react to your calming words and impromptu-music selections.

Soft, Sweet Music

Soft, relaxing music calms some newborns and also blocks household sounds that interfere with baby's sleep. Avoid baby toys with short sound cycles that require you to wind the toy to continue the music. Select music without jarring changes in instruments or vocals so your infant can concentrate on soothing patterns for a calming effect. Babies cry when overstimulated by loud music with jarring vocals or complex musical patterns that use a variety of different instruments. Sutter Health recommends classical music selections to calm newborns.

A Whoosh of Ocean Tides

The United Way of Connecticut recommends using the sound of nature to calm newborns. Natural patterns, including soft rain, ocean tides and bubbling brooks, soothe many newborns that like to listen to the recurring sounds. White noise machines reproduce these sounds using recorded loops, and some allow you to program the sound machine to activate the sound at a certain time and automatically shut off at a selected time of the day. Edit the machine sounds for your newborn, and avoid adult-type noises such as the sounds of thunder. Some children enjoy small home water fountains that recirculate water over rocks to create calming sounds.

Rhythmic Motors

Household sounds with recurring and rhythmic patterns work as a calming method for some newborn infants, according to the March of Dimes. Households that routinely have the television set on during the day and evening, find turning the set on with low volume calms baby. Some newborns enjoy the sound of the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher or the clothes dryer. Parents sometimes put newborns in car seats attached to the top of the dryer while remaining to supervise the calming activity. Use your shower, bath or kitchen sink to mimic the sound of rain by running the water as background noise to create a calming sound environment for your newborn.

About the Author

David B. Ryan has been a professional writer since 1989. His work includes various books, articles for "The Plain Dealer" in Cleveland and essays for Oxford University Press. Ryan holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University and certifications in emergency management and health disaster response.

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