Nothing is more difficult than a fussy baby. I had three very placid, easygoing babies, and then my fourth was a real game-changer. He cried every night for weeks. It was difficult on me AND on the rest of the family.
If you’ve got a fussy baby, you know the challenge. You’ve changed your baby’s diaper, fed her, burped her, and checked that none of her clothing was scratching her; but, she’s still fussy. How can you figure out what could possibly be wrong, and what can you do to make her more comfortable?
Some babies simply have a daily fussy period. And some babies are easier to console than others. If you’ve ruled out illness and other physical causes, there simply may not be a reason other than baby needs extra care and attention.
Women’s wisdom over the ages tells us that these strategies work like a charm – passed from generation to generation as mothering wisdom. How many of us instantly start saying ‘sh-sh-sh-sh’ to a crying baby while gently swaying from side to side? Here are other methods of calming fussiness that you may not have tried:
White noise: the ‘sh-sh-sh-sh’ noise we naturally make to calm a baby mimics the sound of mom’s blood flow, something familiar to baby from in utero. Other ways to create white noise include tuning a radio to static, running the vacuum cleaner, taking a shower. Or set your baby in a seat on the floor next to your clothes dryer. Any soothing wave-like sound is helpful – a fan in the bedroom or even a white noise machine. You can also try the White Noise section in the Baby + App. There are many different White Noise sounds for you to try in the App.
Movement: put your baby in a sling or wrap and go about your day. If you have an infant swing or bouncer chair, give that a try. Motion is calming (think of how your baby moved with you before birth).
Breastfeeding: If you’re a nursing mom, allow your baby to nurse as much as necessary during those fussy times. If your baby isn’t interested in feeding, try a pacifier or your clean knuckle to suck on.
Position changes: Side-lying positions seem to calm a fussy baby, especially when they’re done in arms. Consider this hold: Place your baby on one forearm with legs straddling your wrist and head resting near your elbow. Use your hands to support baby’s body fully, and pull baby in close to you. Light pressure on baby’s tummy is sometimes helpful during fussy times, too. Your hands will be in that position in the hold described above. Or carry your baby much higher up on your shoulder so your bone puts a little pressure on baby’s tummy. Always place your baby on her back for sleep, though.
Hold tight: Imagine your baby before birth, tightly cuddled and warm in your belly. Your baby may be calmer if you re-create this environment. You might use swaddling, or you might decide that carrying your baby in a sling or wrap is easier.
If your baby cries for more than 3 hours each day for 3 days in a week lasting for 3 weeks or more, your baby may have colic. While colic has no known cause or cure, comfort measures are the same as for normal everyday fussiness. Babies may just never fully settle, and parents may just need more of a break. Most babies outgrow colic by 3-4 months.
If you ever find yourself becoming panicked or angry about your baby’s crying, be sure to lay your baby somewhere safe (in a crib, preferably), and give yourself a ‘time out.’ Leave the room, call a friend, or, leave the house altogether (as long as someone else is around to care for baby). A quick walk around the neighborhood may be enough to restore your equilibrium.
Babies fuss for many reasons – after all, crying is how they communicate. Learning what works best for your baby is one of the challenges of parenthood. You are the expert on your baby. If you suspect something is wrong, seek medical care. Otherwise, keep trying until you find what methods work best for your family.
Written by Michelle, childbirth educator, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.