We've all been there. That time where you have your adorable baby and you're all ready for the fairy tale moments of pure bliss with your giggling and cooing sweet sack of potatoes and BAM! You get the complete opposite. A nightmarish, screaming baby that is as stubborn as your ex. You seem to try everything, but nothing works and you feel like your destruction is imminent. This is the time where even though you really don't want to, you need to BREATH! Don't kill me, I am just the messenger.
Any mother/parent will be sympathetic to dealing with a fussy baby. We have ALL gone through it at one time or another and you desperately find yourself online looking for any tip that can help. So, I am going to try my best to do just that!
FIRST: Before you try any of the tips, you need to first know that all babies are different. Just like adults, their wants and needs are going to differ from person to person. Just like their wants/needs are different, so aren't the babies situations and because of that, some tips will only apply to certain situations. Is your baby breastfed? Formula fed? Both? Do they have colic or something medically going on that could be causing this? Is there something sharp or irritating hurting them? Are they too hot or too cold?
There are a ton of questions to ask yourself first before going straight into other methods and using these tips that will help you save some time. Sometimes, a fussy baby has a really easy fix that we just don't see because we get way too flustered by the sound of our baby crying. That's normal. A hormone is released when our babies cry that is suppose to upset us. Its just the nature of the beast.
SECOND: I am finding this out the hard way with my third child because my other two were just luckily easy babies, but a lot of babies have what is called a "witching hour". This is where they are just plain out fussy for what seems like absolutely no reason. It can go on for hours and usually is in the evening time or from around 7pm until 11pm or midnight. Right when you want to sit down and relax...go figure! My third child seems to have a "witching hour" for 6 to 7 hours straight and let me tell you, if I hear "witching hour" one more time, GRRRR! It's like when you're pregnant and you go to your midwife/Dr with what you feel is REAL concerns and every single damn time they say, "Every pregnancy is different!". Screw you man...screw you.
So, let's talk about some things that could be going down and what you can do to TRY to turn that angry potato into a happy potato. These tips can help with a normal fussy baby or a baby that is colicky as well.
Colic: Doctors usually define this as a baby that has predictable times of severe distress. If your child screams for three hours, three days a week, for three weeks or more, they could definitely have colic. Even with that though, there is always a reason for it. You just may not be able to do much more than hold them at that point. There ARE some things you can try to do or alternate until the moments pass:
1. Swaddle Them: There are blankets out there made specifically for swaddle and they'll even come with directions on the blanket on how to do it correctly. If you're in a pinch though, take any normal cotton blanket and throw it in the dryer for a little bit and just snuggle the baby up close with it.
2. Create Calm: Sometimes a baby can get OVER stimulated and that creates a MESS. Turn off any noise, turn down the lights, limit visitors or play time and speak softly. This will only work sometimes with few babies though and if you do it too often, could also create a monster that cant sleep unless its completely quiet. You really don't want that so use this sparingly.
3. Try Applying Pressure: Applying pressure to the babies tummy can sometimes help especially if there is a gas issue. You can hold them face down, long ways, on your forearm holding their face in your hand and walk around with them (please be careful) or you can put them down for "tummy time" which is like two birds, one stone because it also helps with strength training for them. Or, you can put them down on their backs and rub their stomachs in a circular motion.
4. Gas drops/ Probiotics, Gripe Water: These items can be a God send for most of us. You may be worried to use these at first and if you are, feel free to talk to your Doctor ALWAYS before introducing anything new to your babies diet. I have used these with all three of my children and they have worked wonders. Probiotics is something new we are trying with my newest newborn and its working AMAZINGLY. Most gripe water is nothing more than a few natural ingredients that help soothe gas and discomfort. Gas drops are exactly what they say and fast acting too! I've used all of them together or separately. Whatever was needed at the time but, I always give the probiotics routinely twice a day. It helps so much with the digestive system which a lot of professionals believe may be the main cause of colic.
5. White Noise/Soft Music: This, in my opinion, only works on some babies. Others, it will make the problem ten times worse. Like most of these tips! With my third child, this only worked some days and others it was a total bust. You can find baby lullabies and white noise on YouTube that run for hours if you do not want to buy a machine specifically for this.
6. Breastfeeding Foods: If you're breastfeeding, consider what you are eating. Some foods really upset the babies stomachs (broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, acidic fruit, dairy, soy, wheat etc). Your baby can also have a food allergy or sensitivity to dairy or shellfish or nuts passing through your milk too.
7. Formula Feeding: Formula can sometimes be high in iron which can constipate your baby. Try switching formulas (ask your Dr first) to a low iron or newborn specific formula. We used GentleEase formula with our kids and it seemed to work fine. My second son had to be on soy formula because of a dairy sensitivity which stinks and was hell on our wallets but, it was worth it!
8. Breastfed & Formula Fed: This happens and can be very beneficial to everyone. I'm doing it right now with my third and did it with my second as well. Just like anything else though, it can cause its own issues. Supplementing or switching back and forth can be tough on a babies new digestive system. It can cause constipation and gas and over all, a fussy baby. I've found that when they get fussy, I give more breast milk versus formula and it helps push the bowel movements through. If i have eaten something on the NO menu, I push more formula. If nothing works, I would just talk to your doctor and maybe decide on one or the other strictly. Your baby may not be able to process switching back and forth. Some can, some can't.
9. Wear The Baby: Having to carry the baby around in your arms can be KILLER and also, not great for your back, neck, and arms. I found that strapping on a baby carrier, even if your home, works wonders! It helps with your back and neck and frees up your arms to do other tasks. Just do not do this while cooking or eating/drinking something hot. When it comes to newborns and young infants, I believe its impossible to "spoil" them by holding them too much. That comes later in life. A newborn cries for specific reasons and needs specific things and if you holding them is what they need, give it to them. Sometimes the warmth of your chest and hearing your heartbeat is all they need to relax. Its also a good way to apply some pressure to their torso that could help.
10. Get OUT: Sometimes, its as simple as changing the scenery. Go for a drive if your baby tolerates car rides. My third falls asleep the second we start driving so, if we are at our wits end, we go driving. Grab the stroller if its nice out and go for a walk. Another two birds one stone situation.
11. Pacifiers: Some people agree with these and some don't. I am one that agrees. Its not founded that pacifiers hurt their teeth especially when they are infants/newborns but it is founded that they can help prevent SIDS. If you haven't tried this, give it a whirl! It may not take at first and may take the baby a while and a few different ones. There are a ton of different shapes, sizes, materials for pacifiers and your child may be picky. If your baby gets gassy and fussy, they tend to try to over eat which makes the problem worse. You think you're helping them because they are happy while eating but, it makes everything a nightmare and that's where pacifiers can really help. It gives them that soothing feeling they're looking for without over eating.
12. Bath Time: I have found recently that giving a bath can really help a fussy baby too. It can also make it ten times worse as well, Ha! But, if you're like me, when you have a fussy baby and your at your wits end, you'll try anything once! No matter the time of day or night, if nothing else works, I give my baby a warm tub! The warmth can be soothing on them and sometimes, just the shock of doing something different and awkward to them shakes them out of the fussiness. I've found if I can wait until its almost time for their next bottle, give them a warm bath, and then put them in warm fuzzy clothes and then feed them, its a recipe for instant sleepy time.
13. Bouncers/Swings/Rockers: My first child HATED these but, my last loves them! We have all three and use all three throughout the day. Sometimes, he likes to rock, then bounce, then swing. Sometimes, he just likes to swing all day. If it works, use it!
14. Rattles/Toys: If you have a newborn you may be like what? How are toys going to help me they don't even know what they are and can barely see them? IT WORKS...sometimes! Just the noise can distract them and calm them down. With my second, we didn't have toys right away so we literally used a medicine bottle and shook the pills around and it calmed him instantly. Just don't leave that around or near the baby when you're done.
15. Exercise: If your baby is constipated or has painful gas, I found that doing some simple exercises with them can help push it out! What I do is, rub there sides by their ribs, up and down continuously about 15 times. Then I hold their legs up to their bellys, knees bent, for 15 seconds. Then, I rub their stomachs, clockwise, 15 times. Then, raise the legs up again for 15 seconds. Then, I do bicycle motions with their legs 15 times and bring up the legs again for another 15 seconds. This can take a bit or work instantly but, its always had positive results for me and my baby.
If none of these tips and tricks work, its always best to make an appointment to speak with their doctor. I would anyway if their fussiness tends to happen a lot. It can give you peace of mind and they may have some tips of their own. If you question if something is safe to give them or do, always contact their doctor first.
Another tip and maybe the biggest one of all, get HELP. If you have a significant other, take turns during the most fussiest times to ensure you both aren't at your wits end at the same time. You can also have a grandmother, aunt, relative come visit or stay and help out. Or even go visit people and have them hold the baby for a while. I had to learn myself that its OK to ask for help and it is something you should do as often as you need to! Also, don't feel like your burdening people by talking and venting to them about the situation. Its helpful for you and there really are not many people out there who do not understand your frustrations. It's OK to admit, this sucks! If you start to feel depressed or are having a hard time getting out of bed or taking care of yourself and you are having some scary thoughts, PLEASE seek medical and professional help immediately. You can have post pardum depression which is not good for either mom or baby. Do not feel embarrassed by it or shameful either, people who get it have no choice in the matter and it happens to the best of mothers. Feel free to join a MOMS group on Facebook as well for more tips and tricks and support.
This can't and won't last forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will, one day, get your happy cooing potato. Stay strong!
Welcome to the Mother Hood side of my blog! This is a judgmental free zone where we can discuss children and family issues as well as review some products motherhood related! Us mothers need to stick together! Feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org