A friend recently suggested I share a blog she liked on how to deal with a fussy new baby. It’s a great article with lots of helpful advice:
She also asked if I had anything to add. Of course I do!
I think the first thing to know about having a fussy baby is that it is very normal! If your baby is eating normally, not having a fever, and breathing comfortably then you can rest assured that the crying is not life-threatening. You can take a step back, set your baby in the crib or bassinet, walk away and take a deep breath.
Then think about what your baby is going through. They grew comfortably in a dark, warm hot tub with the soothing sound of your heartbeat for 9 months. Then suddenly their world is torn apart and they are squeezed out surrounded by bright lights, cold hands, and the new need to eat, breathe and use their digestive systems. It’s very overwhelming for even the toughest baby.
You can soothe your baby in those first few months by recreating the womb. First, swadlle your baby up tight, sometimes with two blankets. The weight and constriction reminds them of the tightness they felt inside the uterus. A baby carrier can help with this, too. Second, get the baby moving! A walk in a stroller, a ride in the car, or putting them in a swing can recreate the feeling of rocking they had when inside mommy. Third, put on some white noise! The womb was not completely quiet and life outside of it need not be either. You can turn the tv/radio to an off station, you can buy a white noise machine, or you can put on a recording of heart beats or running water. Any of these things tend to calm a fussy baby. My son loved for me to whisper, “SHHHHHHH” in his ear for the first three months! It worked like a charm. Fourth, try giving them something to suck on like their hands or a pacifier. Babies naturally soothe themselves by sucking until 4-6 months.
If these methods don’t work, then think about removing stimuli throughout the day. We were so excited to have Gavin in our lives that we had visitors over all the time, we went on walks every day, and the house was filled with laughter and love. These are great things for us; it turned out they were not so great for him. He would become very cranky around the end of the day. I finally figured out there was too much activity going on for him. He needed his warm, dark hot tub instead of tons of people oohing and aahing over him. Once I limited the visitors (causing some hurt-feelings I’m sure) and toned down our daily schedule, his fussiness resolved. The poor thing was just over-stimulated.
Also remember that colic does happen. It can peak around 4-6 weeks and usually resolves by 3-4 months. Babies with colic will cry for no reason at least 3 times a week, for at least 3 hours, and nothing seems to console them. There are newer studies that show giving babies probiotics every day might help with colic, but talk to your doctor before trying them. I caution parents from changing formula types often and tell breastfeeding mothers not to go crazy analyzing what they are eating/drinking. Sometimes you change too many things and the baby grows out of the fussiness regardless.
In the end it’s always best to see your doctor when you have concerns about your baby’s fussiness. They can check on the baby’s weight, make sure he/she is not spitting up an abnormal amount, and they can give you that reassurance you may need that nothing is wrong with your precious cargo.