By Sharon Perkins, Stefan Korn, Scott Lancaster, Eric Mooij

At some stage crying is bound to take place in your household. A healthy baby may cry for several hours a day (or more). Crying is your baby’s way of telling you he’s hungry, lonely, tired, gassy, too hot, or in need of a diaper change. Sometimes he cries for no apparent reason at all.

Trying to figure out what the problem is while your baby howls can be stressful. Sometimes you may find yourself wanting to stop the noise whatever way you can. Crying can make you feel angry and frustrated, and you may want to lash out physically.

If you feel the crying is getting to be too much for you, put your baby in a safe place like her bassinet or crib, and then take a few minutes to calm yourself outside. A very short but demanding exercise can help get rid of some excess adrenalin as well, so “get down and give me 20” to work things out.

Whenever your baby starts crying, get into the habit of checking three things: Is he hungry, does he have a dirty diaper, and is he comfortable and well (does he have a high temperature, are there any signs of vomit, and are there any other obvious signs of a health problem)?

After you’ve checked your baby, do one (or all) of the following to try to calm and comfort your baby:

  • Burp him to help him get rid of gas (if he’s just had a feeding).
  • Cuddle and sing to him in a calm, soothing voice or put on a CD of gentle lullabies.
  • Give him a warm bath.
  • Put him down for a nap; he may just be tired (no kidding).
  • Put your baby in the car and go for a drive around the block (not the most environmentally friendly alternative, but sometimes driving’s the one thing that works).
  • Switch on a household appliance that makes a monotonous sound, such as a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or washing machine. Or download some “white noise” sounds from the Internet and play the noise to your baby.
  • Take him for a walk in the stroller or baby carrier (at any time of the day or night).
  • Try a gentle, soothing massage.