Image courtesy of Imagery Majestic / www.freedigitalphotos.net A baby crying
Some babies do have a mind of their own...sometimes. No different to when a cat meows. Even for the latter, what does this really mean? How do you stop your baby child from crying? Feed it some more food and/or breast milk? Cuddles? Rest?
Knowing when to stop a baby from crying all begins with knowing the 'cues.' In other words the signs. It is now different (again) to when a cat meows the moment you come home, and the cat can't wait to see you. It's interesting. The cat meows for a while, until you give it some TLC and attention, and the next minute it is purring as if anything didn't happen. Same with babies. Knowing the cues will assist you. For example, hunger is the most common reason. Solution: have some food and/or formula etc on hand to feed your bub.
If food does not resonate (in other words, does not eat, or eats and spits it out), then check it's diaper. If its full of smelly poo, change it. Fairly simple. The most common reason a bub cries in order:
2. Dirty nappy/diaper
3. Insufficient sleep
4. Wants to be held/cuddled
5. Tummy issues - like gas and colic
6. Needs to burp
7. Too cold/too hot
9. Stimulation - might want more/might want less (trust you gut feel on this one)
After exhausting all of the avenues above, and your baby is still crying:
Music? Fresh air? Something to suck on such as a dummy? Massage?
I remember the second night in hospital after my first son was born my husband and I could not settle him at 2am. My husband asked the mid-wife for help and she gave his this advice "Babies cry. That's what they do." She then helped us with the basics of swaddling and checking the "cues" like other answers suggest.
At the time I was so mad and frustrated with her response, but as I had more time (and kids) I realised that she is right, sometimes babies just need a good cry and once you have satifisfied yourself that nothing is wrong you just have to let them go. As I rocked or walked with my son and he refused to settle I would tell myself over and over "If this is the worst crying you can do, I can handle it."
I've heard that there is a CD out of recordings which show that different sounding cries indicate different problems - the result of someone's PHD Study. I certainly think there a different tones to baby cries and could tell whether it was a "hungry" cry as opposed to a "dirty" or "windy" cry.
Of course babies have a mind of their own. They're people. They aren't good at abstract reasoning yet but they do think and feel emotions.
They cry when they need something, so the first thing you need to do is try and figure out what that something is. After a while you get to learn what their different cries mean but it's difficult at first, especially if it's your first baby. I totally recommend a DVD called Dunstan Baby Language by Priscilla Dunstan, which helps new parents learn to identify particular sounds that babies make and what those sounds mean. It varies a little bit from baby to baby but the basics are universal, and I found it helps me to tell what other people's babies want sometimes, not just my own. The easiest sound to recognise is the hungry sound, and if you pick it up soon enough you can feed them before they have a chance to get really upset.
If you're really stumped as to why they're crying, try just running through the basics. Check if they're hungry, windy, or need a nappy change. If none of those things work try getting them to sleep. Sometimes all they want is to be picked up and held for a bit. With babies that love being close to you a sling or a baby carrier can be a huge help because you can just go about your business while holding them close to you. Sometimes just going out into the fresh air can help too.
It's not easy. In fact sometimes it's really hard. I remember one night with my first baby when she was a few weeks old holding and rocking her while standing inside the walk-in-wardrobe hoping all the clothes would muffle the noise a bit as she was waking everyone in the house. But it does get easier gradually.
I have a sure fix it! My daughter went through a stage at around 3-4 months old where she would just cry for what seemed to be no reason, and nothing seemed to help...but this one thing I stumbled upon. I have also tried it out with my friend's babies and it worked for them too, so I know it's not just something my child loved. I would put her in her bouncer and push it back and forth (not rocking, but gliding) with her facing me. I actually got so good at it I could do it with my feet and manage to eat dinner for once. It soothed her right away, and eventually she would go off to sleep. It's good exercise for you too!