It’s completely natural to be worried when your baby is fussy. However, a fussy baby doesn’t mean an immediate trip to the doctor’s office. Although your baby can’t talk yet, the fussiness is a form of communication. And you can learn to understand exactly what is being said.
A crying or fussy baby is communicating with you that he or she wants something. It doesn’t always mean that there is a medical problem.
The top reasons a baby becomes fussy is because he or she:
· Is hungry
· Is tired
· Has a dirty diaper
· Needs comfort
· Is too hot or too cold
· Is in a noisy environment
· Doesn’t feel well
Eat, Sleep, Change Diaper and Repeat
Determining which reason your baby is fussy may be easier than you think because much of it is based on your daily routine. Newborns eat, sleep, and need diaper changes around the clock. These are the first three things a parent should always be conscious of when caring for a fussy baby. It is important to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible in order to keep baby happy.
Establishing a routine will also help you to avoid fussiness because you will know what your baby needs, even before he or she does. Be aware that as your baby grows, there is the need for longer feedings. If you know your baby is hungry and the fussiness continues after the feeding, it may be time to increase the amount of breast milk or formula given. And remember to burp your baby often in order to prevent gas pains, which can also cause baby to become fussy or upset.
Also keep in mind, that if you are breastfeeding, what you eat has an impact on the flavor of your milk. Be sure to follow the breastfeeding diet recommended to you by the doctor. If you are formula feeding your baby and there seems to be a lack of interest, a new formula may be required.
When it comes to sleeping, newborns can sleep up to 16 hours a day so a common sign of a tired baby is fussiness. As long as your baby is waking up for feedings, then it’s okay to allow him or her to get as much sleep as needed.
In addition to eating and sleeping, you may feel like all you do is change diapers. The average infant needs a diaper change every two hours. You don’t have to wake a sleeping baby to change the diaper, but you may want to use ointment to avoid diaper rash. If your baby is particularly fussy during diaper changes, try using warm wipes or a warm washcloth to eliminate the shock of a cold cloth.
It may seem impossible right now, but you will soon learn what your baby’s cries mean. Once a routine is established, you will begin to know if your baby needs to eat, sleep, or a diaper change.
If your baby is fussy, but you can rule out hunger, tiredness, and a dirty diaper, then simply try to comfort your baby. You can do this by making sure that he or she doesn’t feel too hot or too cold. A baby’s reaction to temperature is the same as yours so be sure there are no chill bumps or sweaty hands and feet. Also consider what your baby is wearing and although that sweater looks simply adorable, it may be very uncomfortable. If you wouldn’t want to wear something, chances are baby doesn’t like it either.
It is important to understand that babies have a natural instinct and desire to suck. A pacifier is extremely soothing to a baby. A fussy baby can often be calmed with the simple use of a pacifier.
Sometimes a fussy baby is just scared or lonely. If your baby is being fussy, take a look around and consider the environment. Is it new? Is it loud? Are there a lot of people around? Anything out of the ordinary can make baby want to cuddle in order to feel safe.
To soothe a baby that needs comforting try:
· A warm bath
· Rocking in a rocking chair
· A pacifier or finger to suck on
· Singing softly
· Walking around holding baby close or in a sling
· A baby swing or musical mobile
· A car ride
· White noise – run a vacuum, hair dryer, fan, or other constant humming sound
No single comforting method works for all babies. But by trying different things, you will soon find out exactly what your baby likes.
When to Call the Doctor
Although this isn’t want you to hear – some babies simply need to cry it out. If you have tried everything to get your fussy baby to stop crying, he or she may just need some time to calm down. However, if your baby cries for an extended period of time and is visibly upset, it is time to seek professional advice.
A baby that is frequently fussy for no reason is referred to as “colicky.” Colic means the baby cries for more than three hours a day, several days week – for no apparent reason. It is time to consult with your pediatrician if your baby is fed, rested, changed, and comforted, but still cries a lot.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that can be done for a baby with colic. However, your doctor may recommend trying a new feeding method, gas drops, or even baby massages. The good news is that if your doctor determines that you have a baby with colic, he or she is otherwise healthy. And most colicky babies outgrow the fussiness within a couple of months.
If you have a baby with colic – don’t forget to take care of yourself. Keep your sanity by asking for help from friends and family members. Remember, it is okay to take a break from your baby to do something for yourself because this will only make you a better, and more patient, parent.
You should also call the doctor when your baby:
· Isn’t eating
· Isn’t sleeping
· Has a high fever
· Has a rash (other than diaper rash) or other physical signs of illness such as a flush face
One of the best parts of being a parent is the instinct you get when something just isn’t right. Trust your gut and never be afraid to call a medical professional for advice.
If you are a first time parent, you may feel as though you will never be able to figure out what is wrong when your baby cries. It is normal to feel this way. Although it may find it hard to believe, there will come a day when you immediately know what your baby’s cry means and how to soothe it. It is all part of that wonderful gift of parental instinct and bonding.
Just remember to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible. Be sure to take of care yourself so you can be the best ‘you’ for your baby.
For more on caring for a fussy baby, check out these best-selling books:
· The Fussy Baby Book by Dr. William Sears
· The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
· Calm the Crying by Priscilla Dunstan
· Your Fussy Baby by Marc Wessbluth
· Baby Sense by Megan Faure