Probably the most commonly asked question of new parents is, “How do I calm a fussy baby?”
When your baby isn’t consuming, sleeping or being fully endearing, chances are she’s crying. A huge component of baby care during the first years is comforting and keeping him safe as he grows and develops. If your newborn is a few weeks old, you can probably decipher some of her cries and you’re in search of what he needs. But if you are a brand new parent with a brand new baby, crying fits may be rattling your nerves. Don’t worry! We have all been here.
Being a mommy of two, I had to survive a few months of fussiness with my daughter. While I would love to hold her all day, it’s impossible to do so. Mothers instinctively want to calm their crying baby, but how to calm them is almost counter-intuitive. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most effective things you can do to ease newborn fussiness.
CHECK THE DIAPER
The first thing, I believe, is checking on the baby’s diaper. Even if you simply modified her diaper, she may need a new one. Sometimes babies will surprise you with how quickly they can go – even if they just went! Another thing to look for is the diaper rash, which could be making her uncomfortable. Make sure the skin is taken care of because if the diaper rash is allowed to continue, infections may develop and the baby will become really fussy as the diaper rash can be very painful.
PROVIDE SKIN-TO-SKIN CONTACT
This is something I hear from other moms all of the time. They say when their fussy baby starts spiraling into a crying fit, they’d cuddle them soon and make sure the baby could rest on their chest and feel their skin. I tried it personally and was successful at this one.
Having chores to do all day long, I had to leave my kids in the crib and go on with the tasks. Not being able to see their mother around nearby could be scary for newborns. However, as soon as I hear their yelling I would come to the rescue. You can preferably use a baby sling. It’s not surprising that the warm, dark close comfort of a baby sling can surely put the baby to soothe. Apart from using it at home, use the baby sling to make breastfeeding undercover as well. Cuddling them alone would soothe and put them to ease. The warmth, closeness, smell, touches and familiar heartbeat is sometimes all your kid needs. Studies show that babies who are held often by their mothers are more confident, secure, and do better in school years later.
SWADDLE THE FUSSY BABY
Swaddling can calm a baby by giving her a feeling of physical comfort exactly like she felt in the womb. Trust me your baby was snugly nestled in the uterus, once on the outside, the baby is a bit shocked to find that she can move all over the place, with no control. They don’t know how their limbs work, so they can scare themselves with their own arms and legs, especially when yells start to escalate.
Swaddling is a great trick for babies at this age. It’s simple and so effective. It works because it prevents the baby from flailing around and the baby feels secure. Be sure to keep the baby wrapped tightly but not too tightly. A good rule is that your baby should be able to move a little. In other words, wiggling is good, however being able to move her limbs away from his body defeats the purpose. You can buy special blankets for swaddling, but try the old-fashioned method as it is never a bad idea to know how to swaddle a baby with a basic blanket when you are nowhere near your favorite swaddling blanket.
TRY WHITE NOISE
White noise is fundamentally a signal that contains noise at the same volume on all frequencies. The easiest and the better way to look at it is background noise. The sound of streams, the wind in the trees, chirping of the birds, sound of the rain, vehicles, machinery, footsteps on gravel or leaves, fire and all sounds heard by babies within the female internal reproductive organ are a couple of samples of noise in the environment. For some reason, babies like white noise and it is very calming for them.
Plenty of premade compact discs contain white noise only for babies. You can also try the homemade version. Consider running the vacuum cleaner, tuning your radio to a spot of static, the constant drone of washing machines and dryers can do the trick. Your baby might continue fussing for a few minutes, so don’t give up after the first sixty seconds. You can also opt for noise machines or use white noise apps on your smartphone. Just turn the sound on and try it at different volumes. You can also try it with and without swaddling.
MOVEMENT MIGHT HELP EASE THE FUSSINESS
In the uterus, babies move a lot so they are used to doing the same outside. Even when they weren’t moving on their own, you were rocking them. Some babies seem to miss the movement while others are completely oblivious. The trick here is to try different types of movement with them. There are varieties of them. Some babies will respond to side-to-side movements, while others prefer a back-and-forth motion. You might consider it a minor movement, it can make a major difference to your baby.
You might also want to change up where you are moving. By this I mean, try standing in different rooms. You can also even try standing on different surfaces. Your baby might really like to go back and forth while you are standing on your bed. For many parents of fussy newborns, a swing can be a lifesaver. Most swings on the market aren’t fast enough for really fussy babies. The two which are fast and parents literally swear by them: Fisher-Price Cradle n Swing and the Graco DreamGlider.
A modification of scenery will facilitate the ease of a fussy baby. Try taking an impromptu car ride together. The smooth vibrations in the comfortable infant seat and the whine of the car may provide a soothing environment for a fussy baby. This trick may work, especially, if your fussy baby is over-tired because babies notoriously doze off in the car.
DISTRACT WITH HANGING TOYS
Babies love looking at objects dangle higher than or around them. An easy way to soothe a fussy baby is to put them on their crib or under a play mat with dangling objects. I used to regularly attach baby toys to my kid’s crib or to their car seat handle. These toys kept them entertained and they would love to play with them this way!
GIVE A GENTLE MASSAGE
Babies get tired of constant physical movement of their limbs. If the baby is fussy, it makes him over-tired. Sometimes it’s when babies have gas or need to move their bowels. It is not necessarily painful, but it is a new sensation as babies don’t move their bowels in the uterus and anything you can do to help.
You can simply give your baby a warm massage to move things along quicker and soothe the weariness. You don’t need to be certified masseuse to ease your baby’s fussiness or discomfort with a gentle tummy rub. All you need to do is to put your baby down on her back, then start rubbing her chest/tummy in a circular motion with some baby oil and with two or three fingers across her belly. If your baby starts to relax and settle down, it could be that the gentle movement in her tummy is assisting her to pass trapped gas bubbles.
On the other hand, you can try simply gripe water to ease the colic pain your baby has. While research doesn’t seem to support gripe water as an effective cure for colic or fussiness, many of the parents swear by it. there are plenty of brands out there, but my research says Mommy’s Bliss gripe water has outperformed all other brands.
TURN DOWN STIMULI
Too many stimuli frequently can also be the problem. It’s easy for parents to overlook the daily barrage of lights and sounds we’re all accustomed to. Your newborn baby was in darkness for nine months; his nervous system is still undeveloped and all these new stimuli can be overwhelming. This can be a little frightening for babies sometimes, so try turning off the TV and dimming the lights. Sometimes, transferring the baby to his dark, quiet nursery will facilitate him to relax.
TRY THE COLIC HOLD
After the feed, many babies have difficulty in burping as their tiny digestive system is still immature. The baby can be weary during times when they find it difficult to relieve gas. The colic hold has been known to soothe many fussy babies. All you have to do is, lay the baby’s face down on your forearm and gently rock him back and forth. Pressure on the baby’s tummy will help soothe and relieve gas.
ASK FOR HELP
It is absolutely OK to feel tired and ask for someone’s help. Although, this isn’t always possible, check if your husband or any other person in your family can hold the baby so you can have at least 10 minutes alone in your room. When the husband is home on the weekends, he should get an idea of how difficult your days really are. You may call or text your husband, mom, or friend when you need a pick me up. Also, consider hiring someone to clean your house if you are extremely overwhelmed and behind on things.
Sometimes babies just need to fuss. It is their only way of communicating. Try to relax and let your baby cry sometimes if they need to. Having a fussy baby, whether it is for an hour or for days is hard on the entire family. Sometimes you will absolutely feel like you’re in over your head. But all of a sudden you find out what works best for your baby and it becomes your new life. Hang in there and soak up every precious second. However, if the baby continues to be inconsolable after trying a variety of options, call the pediatrician’s office and talk the situation through with the baby’s doctor.