Having a baby is such a rewarding experience, but it can be hard when they are very little. They can’t tell you what they want, you can’t tell them what you want, and that will make them get fussy. There are some things you can do to help a fussy baby, so here are a few ideas.
Rocking a calm baby will help put them to sleep, but not so much a fussy one. For a fussy baby, increase your rocking. Never shake your baby, but try bouncing them up and down a little. With some effort, it makes your baby realize they are being rocked, and that is good!
Walking around with your baby in a baby carrier (like the Embrace from Ergobaby) will allow you to do what you need to do, but also create more motion for your baby. Remember that not too long ago, they were moving around just as much as you are! That motion of being moved around as they were before will bring them to a familiar state, and that should calm them down.
Swaddling your baby in blankets is a good way to replicate the comfort of the womb that your baby is used to. This will help your baby feel more secure and relaxed and eventually calm your baby down. Here is a great video on how to swaddle your baby! If it's too warm for a blanket, consider a newborn knotted gown to help keep your baby's legs tucked up and cozy while they're sleeping.
Calming sounds or white noise is a good way to once again try and replicate the womb. Putting a baby in a silent room for them to sleep is unusual for them. They are used to constant sound in the womb, even when you were sleeping while pregnant. The hum from a fan can do wonders. You also might want to look into a noise generator. White noise (which sounds like static) or brown noise (my personal favorite as it sounds like a waterfall) can keep the room your baby is in just noisy enough to lull them to sleep.
Overfeeding is something to be careful to avoid. When a baby is crying, a first instinct might be that they are hungry. Overfeeding your baby could make them just as uncomfortable. It is good practice to wait about 2 to 2 and a half hours from the beginning of one feeding to the start of the next one.
Food sensitivity could cause discomfort as well, and you might not even be aware. This one is a little harder to track down, so it may be worth speaking to a doctor. If you breastfeed, consider changing up your diet. Try cutting down on dairy and caffeine. If you don’t notice any changes, you can resume your normal diet. If your baby is bottle-fed, consider talking to your baby’s doctor to see if a different type of formula could be helpful.
Encouraging digestion will assist in “getting things moving.” Gentle belly massages, or moving knees to their belly repeatedly can assist in this.
A pacifier is a great way to try and calm your baby down between feeding. The action of sucking is something that makes a baby feel comfortable and relaxed, but if you’re still within that two-hour window, the bottle or breastfeeding might not be the best option to avoid overfeeding.
Temperature control and lighting control could play a large factor in why he or she is not sleeping. The hard part is figuring out which is which. It will be trial and error for you at first by either adding or removing blankets, positioning fans, and so on. This also isn’t always a constant either. Just like us, your baby’s ideal comfortable temperature will change. It is however good practice to keep the room dark. The womb was a dark environment, so that is what they are used to.
Keeping a log of everything your baby does is helpful to show their doctor. Let’s face it… If this is your first baby, you are learning just as much as your baby is. If you are unsure about why your baby is fussy and can’t seem to get anything to change, start taking notes. List how long it takes your baby to eat and if they cry after. Log when they sleep, for how long, and so on. Present this information to your baby’s doctor, and they should be able to help with some recommendations about what the problem is and how you can help correct it.
Don’t Forget About Yourself!
It can be very frustrating if your baby keeps crying and you can’t figure out why. A range of emotions will flow through you. You’ll want to do everything you can to help, but you’ll get mentally and physically exhausted when you’ve tried all that you can. It’s okay and normal for this to happen.
Consider giving your baby some alone time. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and try to relax. While you won’t want to leave your baby, put him or her in their crib (probably best to remove all blankets, stuff animals, and things like that), and let them cry. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes for you to calm down and relax.
Listen to one of your favorite songs, call a friend or family member for support or a distraction, or maybe watch some funny YouTube or TikTok videos.
After you have taken that 10 or 15 minutes to yourself, check on your baby. Make sure you are back to a relaxed and calm state, and try the above tips again to try and calm your baby.
While it may be challenging, being patient is a must. A baby can’t communicate effectively with you, and you can’t communicate effectively with them. A fussy baby isn’t fun for anyone. These tips and tricks should hopefully assist in calming your baby down so you can both get some sleep! If these options fail and continue to fail, please call your baby doctor and schedule an appointment, while unlikely, there could be a problem that you just can’t notice that a doctor could be able to help with.