Upset baby? Some of the most tried-and-true ways to meet a baby's needs when s/he needs love, comfort, security, snuggling and just to be calm and close to a loving parent.
#1 - Breastfeed! When in doubt, whip 'em out. Breastfeeding is perfect for more than just hunger or thirst needs -- human babies, as part of the carry mammal group, need to nurse for a baseline level of development and secure attachment.
#2 - Have skin to skin time with your baby. Nothing is more soothing and regulating for temperature, hormones, and respiration.
#3 - Babywear. Let friends and family know that you'd like a quality wrap or carrier (Moby Wrap, or similar stretchy wrap for snuggly newborn months; or a Kinderpack, Lillebaby, or Tula for heavier/older babies). This allows a parent to have two free hands, while keeping baby safe and snuggled in their natural habitat - close to a parent's beating heart.
#4 - Dance with your baby. Babies love (and need!) gentle, swaying, calm motion. This not only assists in core strength and development, but soothes a little one who was used to growing up for 9-10 months inside with the constant motion of mom's body. Couple babywearing with dancing, and you've got the perfect pair!
#5 - Sing to your baby. Your baby knows your voice from all their time inside, and this is another centering, calming way to settle your little one. If you're currently pregnant, you can pick a sweet song you love and start singing it now, while baby is growing within -- your baby will recognize the tune when s/he arrives and it will be a fast way to calm while rocking, wearing, and dancing together in the moonlight.
#6 - Take a warm bath with your baby (water only - skip the soap as baby skin does best with only warm water). Your little one grew up close to you in water, and a warm water soak with mom (or dad) revisits this soothing state of being. Don't climb into the bath while holding baby - have a small bouncy chair, or even basket with towel next to the tub for baby to safely lay or sit in while you get in, and then gently lift baby into the water with you. A warm set of towels nearby will help with easy, gentle transfer into a bundle when you're ready to get out. Breastfeeding in the bath is heaven for little ones!
#7 - Take baby for a walk. Whether in a wrap or carrier, or in a stroller, taking a daily stroll with your little one allows for calming motion needs to be met, while slowly exposing your baby to the world around them. Even before they are able to understand, tell your baby stories about what you see on your walk; talk with them about what you encounter. This will stimulate baby's brain development, language comprehension, and double the soothing as your little one hears your voice along your walk.
#8 - Rock with your baby.
#9 - Go on a drive with your baby. While this is not the case for all, many babies enjoy the soothing hum and rhythm of riding in a comfortable car seat in the car. If this is the case with your baby, taking a drive (when you yourself are NOT too tired) can provide a break while calming music plays along the way.
#10 - Have a trusted friend or loving individual step in and implement the above soothing items. When you are taxed, tired, and need a break - for a nap, shower, or just to run errands solo, a mom's helper for even an hour or two can make a world of difference. This is especially the case for those mothering solo. You need a break too, and that's okay. Nurse baby right before, and right after, and ensure you have someone who takes over that is on board with being calming, gentle, and keeping your baby in-arms.
Additional tips and practical solutions for calming an upset baby can be found in Dr. Sears' The Fussy Baby Book. Dr. Linda Palmer also covers nutritional/gut health reasons for potential infant pain, reflux, "colic" and other underlying reasons for crying babies in her fantastic book, Baby Matters -- a must-read especially for breastfeeding mothers or those interested in the science behind infant health and development.