Calming a Fussy Baby

      Calming a fussy baby can be challenging, I’ve been there…four times. Five years ago I left the hospital with my first son and was given a list of instructions including “breastfeed every 2-3 hours, 15 minutes each side.” (<— terrible advice). After a long induction (which I regret agreeing to), pushing for 5 hours way before I should have even been pushing and a c-section, I was looking forward to leaving the hospital and resting at home. I spent 5 uncomfortable days on a terrible mattress separated from my baby, with an abdominal incision, in a dirty room and couldn’t wait to get into my own bed. I stood in the shower and bawled. It was horrible, but baby and I were safe and I could not wait to go home!

My son’s crying started as soon as we got home. I fed him, I burped him and I put him into his bassinet. The crying started again. I picked him back up and immediately it stopped! “Wow, he’s spoiled” relatives would say. I wondered if I was “spoiling” my baby. Was this a bad thing? I certainly didn’t want him to cry and my Mommy instincts told me that holding him was what he needed.

He nursed constantly and I thought that I didn’t have enough milk for him. I searched the internet for breastfeeding help. I called the lactation consultant at the hospital. Nurse him”every 2-3 hours” I was told. There was no way he would make it that long. Sometimes he would nurse for an hour, fall asleep and unlatch, then want to nurse again 5 minutes later. I cried. I thought I had failed. I was very lucky to stumble across the La Leche League website and found a local chapter.

I called the phone numbers on the LLL page and left messages. I was relieved to get a return phone call reassuring me that frequent meals were very common and normal! Whew. I felt so much better and cried when the LLL leader said “thank you for breastfeeding your baby.” I thought wow, if my baby could thank me I know he would! I needed to take a deep breath, and get used to sitting/laying and nursing. As a busy body this was hard for me at first.
I knew I had to figure something out. I wanted to have free use of my arms to do some basic things (like eating), but didn’t want my baby to cry. I knew listening to my instincts, and not to others who offered unwanted advice to let my baby ‘cry it out,’ was the right thing to do. How was I going to keep my son happy, and get off of the couch?

It took me time to learn the answers, but fortunately these lessons have been passed onto my other two sons. I hope to pass them onto you! How do you calm a crying newborn? A baby who wants to be held and nursed all day and night? The answer is simple; Hold and Nurse them!!
It’s normal and healthy for a baby to nurse frequently and want to be held (excluding any medical conditions) (3). Remember, a short while ago they were floating around in amniotic fluid; Warm and in constant earshot of your heartbeat. He/She was fed 24 hours a day by the umbilical cord and never felt hunger or cold. Post contains affiliate banners below.

So how do you accomplish this?

1. Babywearing
2. Breastfeeding
3. Bath
4. Bouncy Seat
5. Bink/Bouncing

Babywearing

    Babywearing is an amazing way to keep baby happy. When he/she wants to be held…..hold him!! Wrap your newborn up in a user friendly stretchy wrap like the Boba or the Moby and “hold” your baby with free arms! Move onto a structured carrier like an Ergo or a heavier wrap like a Woven. Many Mommies (and Daddies) enjoy ring slings as well.

This is a pocket carry in a popular Moby wrap. Note 4 week old baby’s head is turned to the side so he can breathe and he is very comfortable listening to my heartbeat!! (pictured below, passed out baby and happy Mama!)

Breastfeeding

   If my son is crying, there is nothing that soothes him like breastfeeding. Comfort nursing is a wonderful thing! In addition, breast milk is the perfect nutrition for baby and highly digestible. When baby is first born his/her stomach is tiny and they don’t last long between meals. They also typically nurse for very long periods of time – totally normal. Nursing when baby needs to be nursed is called “nursing on demand” and is best for baby (1).

(Image from www.llli.org)

A few tips for those first weeks when baby nurses a lot; Get comfortable. Line up movies you want to watch, learn to NAK (nurse at keyboard) and catch up with friends, read books, join online breastfeeding support groups, read great articles from the La Leche League online. This stage varies, but nursing a lot in the beginning is what baby needs.

(Image from www.llli.org)

Bath

    Know how a nice warm bubble bath is a great way for you to relax and unwind? It’s true for baby too! There have been times when my baby is crying and after trying all my usual tricks without success I feel puzzled and at a loss. Then it occurs to me that I haven’t tried the bath! At first he’s startled, but after a few seconds he realizes that the warm water is soothing. This may not be true for all babies, but it has been wonderful for us. I savor the time when he’s happy and splashing and enjoy spending some quality happy time together. I use chemical free lovely baby washes and follow with a baby massage (babysage) giving him a little spa session.

  Bouncy Seat

My children seem to know the exact second I step into the shower. All 3 of them, born different times, have been totally asleep in Daddy’s arms – in a different room…..and the second I start to shower…. the crying starts. This has been especially true the first few weeks, and going multiple days without bathing isn’t on my list of favorite things to do.

    I developed a system with my first son that has worked with his brothers too! It’s a bouncy seat – clear shower curtain- combination. I put the bouncy seat outside the shower, nurse baby until he’s full and gently place him in the bouncy seat. We can both see each other from the shower and it allows us both to have what we need. I get clean and baby gets to hang out with Mommy!

 

Binky/The Bounce

Two out of my three sons wanted absolutely nothing to do with a pacifier. My first son had nipple confusion from being bottle fed in the hospital so I was thrilled when he rejected the binky. My second son would accept it in the car, but not at home. My 3rd son is a huge binky fan! I was afraid to let him use the pacifier; Fortunately he has shown no signs of confusion and really enjoys it. If your baby isn’t into comfort nursing, the binky may help. Sucking is a primary means of comfort for an infant and if you don’t have any obstacles like oral motor confusions and your baby loves it, great!

Some days my 3rd son will nurse until he’s full, reject brestfeeding for comfort, and look for the pacifier. After 20-30 seconds of very happy sucking he dozes off. Now all I have to make sure I don’t lose it!! (Pictured below, just home from the hospital and wrapped for the 1st time in our Boba wrap).
I have ‘the bounce’…and if you’re a Mom you probably have ‘the bounce’ too! Some Dads have it as well. It’s the bouncing-walking motion I have to assume every night around ‘fussy time’ and sometimes even Dad is good at it! I don’t know if it brings baby back to a comforting time in the womb, or is simply a soothing motion, but if you don’t have the bounce you’ll find it!

 

There have been days when we’re driving around in the car at midnight (my 1st son always fell asleep in the car) and days when I’m bouncing up and down the street with baby in his carrier. Every baby and parent differs and I hope you find some tried and true methods that work for you. Remember, if baby is crying there is a reason. He has needs that need to be met and Love is one of them. Babies can’t be spoiled; Giving baby what he needs creates a strong base from which confidence grows.

You should always contact your pediatrician to discuss concerns and changes in behavior. Having a good ear thermometer handy is helpful to ensure baby doesn’t have a temperature. Keeping support on speed dial for emotional relief is helpful. Most people, including friends and neighbors, are willing to help when you use the phrase “my baby won’t stop crying, you need to come over and hold him.”
If you ever ever feel yourself getting frustrated with baby it is important to put him down gently, somewhere safe and take a step back, count to 10 ( or 1,000) and get help if you need it. Remember…with babies EVERYTHING is a phase. They grow fast and will be running around before you know it!

Great online resources are Attachment Parenting and the La Leche League. Happy parenting!

 1. https://www.llli.org/nb/lvaprmay98p21nb.html

2.  https://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvoctnov99p99.html
3. http://www.attachmentparenting.org/

This is an article constructed from my experience with my children. If you are wondering if your baby is okay, call the doctor. The internet is no place to diagnose or treat a baby. I have not been provided products or compensated for this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *