My question is: Is there any way to soothe a crying baby in the middle of the night other than inserting my pinky?


  • Pinky method = only successful soothing found
  • Tried the following other methods without success:
    • Binkie
    • Singing
    • Holding
    • Swaddling
  • My wife and I need to sleep so we can't keep our pinky in the baby's mouth all night.
  • Extra info:
    • She's breast fed
    • She's on a bilibed for jaundice
    • She's 7 days old

I have a week old newborn that has been fussing (that word is a gross understatement for the kind of crying she's giving us) for the last few hours (it's now 2 AM) and my wife and I have discovered that she is miraculously soothed by "the pinky method." It's like a magic button. This is all fine and dandy, however I need to sleep eventually and even when she falls asleep if we try to remove our pinky she notices and begins to fuss all over again. She just spits any binkies out. When she gets really hungry my wife is able to calm her temporarily by feeding her, but it all just goes back to fussing.

  • 4
    One tip: let your wife sleep while you are comforting the baby, and you sleep while your wife is doing it. You need to sleep, even if that means doing shifts with your wife. Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 6:34
  • 1
    Just tonight I mentioned to my cousin that I only ever heard "Binky" (Binkie) used in Utah, so I had to see where you were from... UTAH!! hahah!! ANYWAY: Neither of my kids liked pacifiers or fingers, but they did do really well with me patting their chest for a few minutes.
    – BillyNair
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 8:08
  • We use Binky up here in Canada (at least in my part of Ontario) as well.
    – Grant
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 13:13
  • Wait until teenage years. You'll have to throw money/cellphones/your car keys at them to stop the fussing later in their lives.
    – T. Sar
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 17:13

3 Answers 3


First of all - Hang in there you guys are just at the start...

To the answer - If I have read your description correctly, you are inserting your pinky finger into the infants mouth with the pad of your finger to the roof of their mouth - this triggers the infants suckling response & was a GREAT way to calm our kids down when they were tiny.

I would recommend two things to try:

  1. Try to remember that AFTER the baby closes their eyes and starts to sleep, you have to keep up whatever you are doing for about 20 minutes in order for them to enter the deepest sleepy cycle - once our kids got there, we could toss 'em up in the air and they wouldn't wake up - that is, if NOTHING else is wrong.

Remember, it is NOT 20 minutes from the time you stick your pinky in their mouth; it is not 20 minutes from the time they calm down - it is 20 minutes from the time they go to sleep.

  1. If after your child goes to sleep and you put them down, remove your pinky; they stir and cry - I would think they are hungry - infants who are being breast fed, especially for the first few weeks, will need to eat every 2 to 3 hours.

  2. The best thing my wife and I did, especially since she was breastfeeding, was we had our kids (when they were babies) sleep with us - our kids received a LOT of comfort from that AND when they were hungry, my wife was able to feed them without having to get up, she would tell me that she got to the point where she didn't even remember waking up to feed them because she would just do it in her sleep.

Good luck and I hope that is helpful :)

  • Number one is really important. Bedsharing, the only number 2, is a controversial issue that needs to be investigated and is only right for some families. But the first number one is really essential to know.
    – justkt
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 13:48

Have you tried the 5 S's? It's a sleep technique introduced by Dr. Harvey Karp, and he's made quite an industry out of it (http://www.happiestbaby.com), with a particular page here that describes all you really need to know. The method itself is:

Swaddling: Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support your baby is used to experiencing within the womb.

Side/stomach position: The infant is placed on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. “But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep,” cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach down position do not leave them even for a moment.

Shushing sounds: These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.

Swinging: Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother’s womb, so entering the gravity driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. “It’s disorienting and unnatural,” says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.

Sucking: “Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system,” notes Karp, “and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain.”

We've done this with both of our kids, and it works very very well. I've done it to other people's kids when the parents claim that their baby is too colicky to get to sleep; within about five minutes, the kid's usually unconscious and the parents are amazed. You can buy the dvd and the book if you like, but the list I provided above is pretty much what those products contain.

Here's a picture of me putting my son to sleep:

Putting Thomas To Sleep

He's in a swaddler, he's got a pacifier in his mouth (though I did use a pinkie for a while too), he's held in a side lie, I'm practically yelling 'sssshhhh' into his ear, and rocking gently. Out like a light ten seconds after the photo.

  • We did not follow the "happiest baby" method exactly, but we did attend a class where it was taught. The swaddling and shushing worked well for us until a certain age. So did firm patting on the back while rocking. I feel like we have lucked out in that our child was not really fond of pacifiers. Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 18:57

If your baby likes your finger but spits out the pacifier, it may be that she is so eager for the pacifier but disorganized, so she pushes it out of her mouth before it can calm her. When a baby is super fussy, they are too frantic for the pacifier.

If the 5 S's (above) are too much for you, try just putting her hands together in front of her and holding her with her tummy down, back facing up, on your arm, swaying her gently.

This calms 99 percent of babies who have been fed. Then once she's organized and not wailing, try the pacifier or holding her hand.

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