We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a phone call, a grocery store, the airport and you’ve got a fussy baby in your arms to deal with. It’s hard, babies get fidgety, and you want to stop and rearrange and regroup but every parent knows it’s not always that easy. Here are a few ways to manage a fussy baby, even when you don’t have a free hand to spare.

The Hamilton Hold

  1. Pick up the baby and fold his arms snuggly across his chest.
  2. Secure the baby’s arms with your hand after they’re folded. That hand also supports the baby’s chin.
  3. Gently hold the baby’s bottom with your dominant hand. Use the fleshy part of your hand, not your fingers, to ensure a secure hold.
  4. Position the baby at a 45-degree angle and gently rock him. The motion can be up and down, or you can try shaking the baby’s bottom. The key is to make the sequence smooth and avoid jerky movements. The angle is important because it helps you keep control of your baby.

Reposition Baby on Your Body

Wearing your baby and walking around is a great way to soothe her. Babies enjoy the feeling of closeness and the rhythm of your steps. The carrier is also convenient because your hands remain free for multitasking. Have your baby face your body in a front-pack carrier or a sling for the first three months when she needs the extra head support. You can also use a sling, which is particularly useful for on-the-go nursing and can convert to a side or back hold when your baby gets older. If your baby balks at being in a sling or front carrier at first, don’t give up on it entirely. Babies often come around and enjoy being carried around like this.

Find a Quiet Place and Use White Noise

Some babies calm down to rhythmic whooshing sounds, which may remind them of the womb. See if turning on a vacuum cleaner, hairdryer or fan may work to block out the random noises that can startle your baby when she’s trying to settle down. Alternatively, invest in a special white-noise machine or mobile. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any gadgets handy, try shushing your baby with “Shhhhhh…shhhh…shhhh…” sounds.