Every mom has been there: Your little one starts melting down, and nothing you do seems to have any effect on the waterworks. When you don't have products to make your kid stop crying readily on hand, it's undoubtedly a frustrating situation. Unfortunately, no amount of verbal pleading and negotiating will make the the tears stop flowing. (I know, because I've tried.)
In times like these, what's a desperate mama to do? When you're tapped for tricks, sometimes the best thing to do is seek advice from real moms who've been there. Romper spoke to moms across the country discuss their all-time favorite products to get kids to stop crying. From rockers to wrap carriers and bubbles to bath tubs, these products have been vetted by veteran moms to soothe fussy babies and kids — even at their most inconsolable.
It's important to keep your sanity, too, which is tough when a tiny human is screaming in your ear. Remember you can always place your child in a safe place (like a crib or playpen), and take a few minutes so you can regroup.
Tears may be unavoidable (sometimes for Mom, as well as her child), but there are other moms out there who can help. Check out these mom-tested and mom-approved products to calm babies and toddlers, so you'll be ready next time your munchkin has a meltdown.
1. An Automatic Rocker
"I've said this a million times, but the Rock 'n Play is my all-time favorite infant item. It was the only way N would sleep in those early days, and I don't know what we would've done without it. She would scream her face off if we tried to get her to sleep flat in a crib, but she'd go right to sleep in this. It was also great during the day on rocker mode when nothing else was working."
- Amanda K., mom to N (7 months)
Why It Works: The Rock 'n Play sleeper and playtime rocker features an inclined seat to mimic the gentle snuggle of Mom's arms, helping sad babies feel safe, sound, and soothed. Sync it with your smart device to turn on the automatic rocking mode, music, and soothing vibrations to keep your little one calm when you need your hands free.
2. A Snug Swaddle Blanket
"M was a little wiggle-worm as an infant, and he'd often startle himself to the point that he'd cry. If that happened — or if he was having an especially fussy moment — I'd wrap him up tightly in the Miracle Blanket, then we'd sway, pace, rock, and even nurse until he calmed down. We tried several swaddles, but this was the only one M couldn't break out of. We liked to think of it as his baby straight-jacket."
- Katie C., mom to M (20 months) and one on the way
Why It Works: Swaddling a baby tightly reminds them of being in the womb (aka, their original home sweet home) and can instantly make them feel calmer. That said, not all swaddles are created equal, and as moms of budding Houdinis know, babies who are especially squirmy can wriggle their way out of lesser swaddles, causing more tears. The Miracle Blanket is basically impossible to escape from — Houdini himself would have had trouble breaking free from all that carefully layered fabric — to help your baby stay happy longer.
3. A Bubble Machine
"Once C turned into a toddler, I had to come up with new ideas to get her to calm down when she got upset, and bubbles seem to do the trick every time. There's something magical about them — both in their appearance and in the way they get her to stop crying. I'll turn this Gazillion Bubbles Hurrican bubble machine on when she's upset, and her cries pretty quickly turn into laughter as she chases and pops bubbles all over the backyard."
- Elizabeth H., mom to C (2 years) and one on the way
Why It Works: Who doesn't like bubbles? No one, that's who. Bubbles are inexpensive, create minimal mess, and if you use enough of them, can be a substitute for bath time (kidding...I think). Save your breath and let this colorful bubble machine do all the work for you: Simply pour in some solution, turn on the machine, and watch as it produces up to 500 bubbles per minute — captivating even the angriest little monster's attention.
4. A Musical Toy
"Take Along Tunes has been a favorite in our house since my oldest child was a baby. It's portable, so it can go anywhere, which is great, since you never know when or where tears will start flowing. We keep one in the car at all times, but I also love it for the changing table when they get to the stage where they hate having their diaper changed. It's also durable, so it still works no matter how many times it gets dropped, which is essential when you've got three kids."
- Emily C., mom to D (3 years), C (16 months), and E (2 months)
Why It Works: Portability is key here: This portable music machine is great anytime a sob-fest breaks out, you can be prepared with a light-up, chewable, musical toy designed to look like your old-school mp3 player. (Rule No. 1 of baby toys: The more realistic they are, the better.) The super-simple, push-button design means even younger infants can entertain themselves with it.
5. A Wrap Carrier
"When S was tiny, she wanted to be snuggled up to me 24/7, which sounded lovely but wasn't really conducive to me getting anything done. She'd cry whenever I'd put her down, so the Baby K'tan was a lifesaver for me: I could keep her close to soothe her but still have my hands free to work, run errands, or just zone out like only a new mom can."
- Nina H., mom to S (2 years)
Why It Works: The market is crowded with carriers, but stretchy, wrap-style carriers made of soft fabric seem to have the most soothing effect for newborns. The Baby K'tan wrap carrier stretches to conform to tiny baby bodies, keeping them snug and secure, so they can rest easy. Unlike competing wrap carriers, the K'tan features an easy-to-use double-loop design, so it's simple to slide on whenever witching hour begins.
6. Gas Drops
"My firstborn never seemed to fuss or get upset, so when my second started crying inconsolably at just a few days old, I wasn't sure what to do. Not much helped until we tried giving gas-relief drops, which had an almost instant effect on her crying. The poor thing must have been so uncomfortable, but once the gas was treated, she became a much happier baby."
- Tracy T., mom to C (2 years) and E (1 month)
Why It Works: Often, sadness and tears can be eased away with distractions, but sometimes, the problem may stem from a painful, gassy tummy. When that's the case, try offering dye-free gas-relief drops to help ease their little tummies (though, as always, consult with your pediatrician first). You can even lay your baby down and bicycle-kick his or her legs for bonus gas-relief.
7. A Tub Just For Tinies
"Whenever witching hour strikes at our house, the only surefire way to calm down little E is to give her a bath. She loves it so much that sometimes she even stops fussing just when she hears the water running. I like the Puj Tub since I can bathe her in it in the sink, and it's nice and cushy for her to lay in. We use a calming nighttime cleanser to make tub-time even more relaxing for her."
- Jenna B., mom to E (3 months)
Why It Works: Babies spend the first nine months of their lives in water, so it makes sense that water would have a calming, peaceful effect on them. The foldable Puj Tub makes bath time easy with tiny infants since it keeps them in a cozy, cradled position, which when paired with warm water, calming bath wash, and a soothing massage, can help to calm down even the saddest, maddest babies around.
8. A Silly Stroller Toy
"Baby number three will be here any day, so believe me when I say we've gone through lots of toys. One that could always be counted on to distract my girls, especially around the six-month age , was the Whoozit. I keep one on both the car seat and stroller at all times so it was always with us, and anytime fussiness started, I'd gently shake it in their field of vision. They'd immediately turn, reach for it, and get to work on playing instead of crying."
- Bridget S., mom to C (3 years), J (21 months), and one on the way
Why It Works: The colorful Whoozit checks all the boxes when it comes to baby toys: It's got a silly, playful face, it's got a bold black-and-white pattern on the back, and it's got various appendages that squeak, creak, rattle, and crinkle. There's enough here to distract a baby for hours — or minutes, at least, which is sometimes all you need to deflect a major meltdown.
9. A Big, Bouncy Ball
"The product that saved us most in those early newborn days was a bouncy exercise ball. My baby was pretty fussy those first few months, and the only thing she knew she liked was to bounce up and down on this ball while swaddled tightly...over and over again. My arms couldn't bounce her fast enough: It had to be on the ball. It always calmed her down, and another plus is that my abs got whipped into shape fast."
- Jennifer F., mom to G (4 years) and A (10 months)
Why It Works: When they're still in utero, a baby gets jostled and bounced constantly as Mom goes about her busy day: walking, working out (or not, if you're me), climbing stairs. After they're born, sometimes bringing that feeling back with some buoyant — yet gentle — bounces on an inflatable balance ball can help soothe a fussy baby. (Of course, it's important to ensure a baby's head and neck are protected at all times.)
10. A Gadget For Clearing Stuffy Noses
"We've had nights where our kids can't fall asleep comfortably because they're so stuffed up. Tears ensue, but I know there will be even more tears the next day if they don't get some rest. I love the NoseFrida for clearing out their noses – it seems a little weird, but it really works. They calm down fast since they can actually breathe again, and then everyone can get some rest."
- Lauren M., mom to L (3 years) and S (21 months)
Why It Works: When babies get stuffed up, all those boogies just kind of hang out, plugging up their noses and making it hard for them to breathe. Unlike traditional nasal aspirators, the snot-clearing NoseFrida looks like a flexible straw you place just inside your baby's nostril, then, well...you suck on the other end of the straw to clear the stuffiness. (Don't worry, there's a filter to prevent any ickiness from reaching you.) It's a different approach, yes, but it's highly effective: The nose will be cleared, and your baby will rest comfortably.
11. A Noisy Rainmaker
"During the infant months, the best way to soothe my girls when they were melting down was through distraction. Of all the toys in the toy bin, this little rainmaker toy always seemed to do the trick. It makes a loud enough noise to distract them from whatever it was that was upsetting them, and they liked getting to flip it up and down and watch the little beads fall. It helps them calm down until they're ready to play happily again."
- Katelyn H., mom to K (2 years) and L (12 months)
Why It Works: Moms become superstars at distraction when they're got fussy babies, but not every toy can be counted on to do the job. This small, bead-filled rainmaker is perfect: The beads are loud enough to overpower cries – capturing even the saddest little one's attention – and the size is just right for their small hands to grasp. The fact that it can be used endlessly just by flipping it over means the distractions can last as long as possible.
12. A WubbaNub Pacifier
"Both my boys loved pacifiers from the time they were born, and far and away our favorite was the WubbaNub. The design of this paci, since it has a small animal attached, helps keep it in place better than just a plain old paci. There's nothing more frustrating when your baby is screaming than having to keep popping in a pacifier every 18 seconds, so this was a real lifesaver for us during fussy moments."
- Lindsey S., mom to S (2 years) and B (5 months)
Why It Works: For babies with a strong urge to suck, nothing beats a binky to help them soothe themselves. There are countless pacifiers on the market, but a common problem most of them have is they don't stay in. The WubbaNub pacifier ingeniously solves this problem by attaching a soft stuffed animal to the end of it, which helps keep the pacifier in place. The fewer times you have to replace a crying baby's binky, the better.
13. A Shushing Machine
"We were pretty lucky: While we certainly had our fair share of sleepless nights, we found a product that worked for us pretty early on. Our solution? The Baby Shusher. When cradled in his Leachco Podster, he would fall right asleep once we got the Shusher going. It was great for traveling or visiting with local friends and family since it could easily be thrown in the car. Life-changing."
- Lauren S., mom to C (12 months)
Why It Works: During their nine-month stint as a fetus, babies listen to a soundtrack of their mothers' blood circulating playing on repeat, which is why shushing a baby is an age-old trick to stop tears. The Baby Shusher cleverly replicates the constant, rhythmic sound of shushing for you, sparing you your breath (and your sanity). When played loudly — gentle, quiet shushing doesn't have the same effect — this can calm even the fussiest of babies.
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