Tips for Soothing a Fussy Baby

iStock_000007039683SmallBeing a newborn can be hard work. Being a parent of a newborn can be even harder. It’s exactly like everyone told you it would be, except now you’re living it.

It’s overwhelming. Exhausting. All Consuming.

But also the most beautiful, amazing, and important moment of your life.

Parenthood certainly changes you.

And just when you feel like you’re easing into your new role…the crying begins. And it only seems to be getting worse.

Your beautiful bundle of joy has taken to distressing bouts of crying. She often looks like she’s in pain and no matter what you do, the crying continues. Sure, it could be “colic” which is really a non-descript term that, by definition, follows the rule of 3′s: crying for more than 3 hours per day, for at least 3 days per week, and for 3 weeks or longer.

We know all babies go through a phase of increased crying. This crying peaks between 2 weeks of life up until 3 months of age. After which, the crying dramatically improves. Their digestive and nervous systems are still maturing, not yet completely ready to take on all the sights/sounds/tastes that the world has to offer. And some babies are simply more sensitive to these outside stimuli.

Here are some ways to help your little one through this increased crying phase:

Swaddle: Invest in a generous sized/thin swaddling blanket and hone those burrito wrap skills. Most babies dislike the process of swaddling, but once they’re snug and secure…they love it. Give it a try. And try again. Have a seasoned mom friend show you the way or ask your pediatrician to show you.

Rock/Walk/Sway. Get moving. Babies love to move. Find your rhythm with your baby. And remember, this is a soothing and gentle process. Never shake your baby.

Non-nutritive sucking. Sucking is soothing for babies. So if you know your baby is full and/or has just been fed; offer a pacifier to help calm him down.

Side or tummy hold. While you should always place your baby on his back to sleep to decrease the risk of SIDS, try holding your baby on his side or tummy and rub his back. Or do the bicycle legs while talking or singing to your baby.

Get outside. A little fresh air and change of scenery does everyone good. I recall vividly how well this worked for my own little one. It was amazing to see that the crying instantly stopped the second we stepped outside.

Warm bath. Every baby is different and some dislike this completely while others love it. Give it a try for your little one and see how she responds during her fussy period.

Quiet or soft/soothing white noise. Some babies just need to be. Turn down the loud ambient household noise and turn on some soothing background white noise (think sound machine or relaxing music) to help your baby feel calm. It might just work for you too.

Take care of yourself, take a break! Crying can weigh on our souls as new parents. No matter how hard we try, we can’t help but take the persistent crying personally. It’s distressing to us. So, ask for help. Put your baby down in a safe place like a crib or bassinet and take a breather. Take shifts with your partner. Go for a walk and take that overdue shower. A little self care will go a long way in getting through the crying spells of infancy.

Remember, you are a good parent and your baby is a good baby. Crying is not bad. It’s a normal development process for our newborns.

And yes, you can be a baby whisperer too.

Always talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s crying and bring him in to be checked if you’re worried about the crying. Infant reflux, food sensitivities, and other conditions could exacerbate this period of crying.

Medication such as gripe water, “gas drops”, and probiotics have not been proven to help but some parents swear by them.

Above all, remember, that this too shall pass. It will.

There is a light at the end of this crying tunnel…and that light is the bright smile that suddenly greets you one fine morning.

The smile that beams pure love.

From your beautiful baby.

And it’s all for you.

More reading and resources for tired new parents:
Calming a Fussy Baby: Healthy Children, AAP
Period of Purple Crying: Why babies cry
Keeping Calm About Crying: Great infographic on infant crying by Seattle Mama Doc

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