Tuesday’s Top 10: Best (Mostly Legal) Ways to Quiet a Crying Child

Maile and I have been in the child-raising stage of life for roughly 7 1/2 years now. We’ve had at least one child in diapers for all but a few months of that time period (and usually two in diapers).

If there’s one thing we’ve had our share of, it’s crying children. According to thechildrenshospital.org, the average baby has 1-2 hours of unexplained crying every day. That means, up to this point, we may have made it through 2920 hours of unexplained crying.


Just the other night the six of us went to the mall so that Maile and I could spend some of our hard-earned Christmas gift cards. Maile waited dutifully with the kids at the play area while I did some shopping, and then we switched. After watching all those strange kids at the play area, I’m pretty surprised none of ours got The Plague, or at least dysentery.

Maile came back, and I thought the night was about to ease into a painless finale, but when she saw the clothes I had picked out for myself, it was back to the store to return the clothes and find something “that worked.”

By this time it was around 8:00pm. There was tiredness involved, there was crankiness, there were even a few tears…and that was just me. But by the time Maile had helped me find something “that worked,” 18 month old Sam had had enough. He lapsed into one of those “I’m-so-tired-that-you-have-no-right-to-discipline-me-it’s-your-fault-we-ve-reached-this-point-let’s-just-get-the-heck-out-of-here-so-that-I-can-fall-asleep-in-the-van” sort of moments.

So we ran from the mall.

It got me thinking – we’ve come across some creative ways to get our kids to stop crying (none of which worked that night). And we don’t have all of these ideas because we are experts at getting them to stop; it’s just that when you’re not an expert at getting them to stop, you have to try SO MANY different things.

Best Ways to Quiet a Crying Child

1 – Bribery. I recommend skipping all other methods and going straight to this one. But if you’re a first-time parent, and still have a conscience, try out some of the others. Just for kicks.

2 – Threats. Not recommended. Eventually the kids get so jaded to threats that you have to increase the level of threat to something akin to Homeland Security’s Threat Level: Red, just to get them to brush their teeth.

3 – Ignore. This one is surprisingly effective. But you look like a complete idiot of a parent. People walk by frowning and whispering to one another, “That poor child!” or “What a lousy parent!” or “Is that guy deaf?”

4 – Young children can be placed in their car seat on top of the dryer. The cycling, bumping sound puts them to sleep. This is not recommended. Or even legal. And we never, ever, ever did this.

5 – Take them for a drive. This sometimes works, unless your child is in the stage where they hate sitting in their car seat even more than they hate sitting in a pile of manure. Which does not put them to sleep. No matter how warm.

6 – Read Leviticus to them. This comes with a guarantee: someone will fall asleep.

7 – Give them a pacifier. I can hear some of you without children exclaiming, “But they look stupid!” or “But what about the thousands of dollars of orthodontic bills down the road?” To which I reply, “Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I would pay thousands of dollars for a full night’s sleep. A pacifier seemed a small price to pay in the moment.”

8 – If the child’s not yours, just walk away. Get far enough away, and the crying stops. This one works every time.

9 – Hug them. Saved the best for last. This one works both ways (ie ways to quiet a crying parent)

So anyone out there have better ideas? I need one more to complete the list…

7 Replies to “Tuesday’s Top 10: Best (Mostly Legal) Ways to Quiet a Crying Child”

  1. Diversion works best for me. a final word from me followed by a very quick change of subject. eg. “no you can’t have it…is that a rocket?!”

    obvisouly this only works for slightly older ones. for the babies i do a “drop and run”. similar to no. 8, but with a cot and a few closed doors. (not recommended by ‘good parents’!)

  2. Oh, hugs are so good. I loved/love those.

    I think that children continue to having unexplained crying into adulthood. And it seems to intensify a bit as they approach the teen years. Wow.

    My first would stop crying if she was constantly in motion. So my husband or I would spend hours just walking around our apartment trying to keep her quiet. I don’t miss those days. My third was simply inconsolable. I REALLY don’t miss those days.

  3. Ha … thought #4 was something we invented. Sometimes it was the only thing that worked for our colic kid. Just make sure the car seat can’t ‘walk’ off the dryer. Secure it somehow, I forget what we did (that kid is now 17) but I’m sure we did … I think …
    And I’m sure you are wondering now that he is 17, if he has quit crying … yes, but it’s been replaced by talking … non-stop talking … every day … all day …

  4. We always just stuck a Cheesy Gordita Crunch in their mouth. Taco Bell is good for lots of things.

    And if it didn’t work, I had something to eat.


Comments are closed.