Life with a newborn is filled with amazing moments as you cuddle your calm, sleeping baby in your arms. Yet, there may also be times of stress and frustration if you are unable to soothe your baby during their fussy times.
Here are 5 tips for caring for a fussy baby:
- Accept it is not your fault that your baby is fussy! It is surprising how common it is for parents to blame themselves for their baby’s crying. Babies have immature digestive and neurological systems and sometimes the only way they can respond and communicate is by crying. But it’s not your fault.
- Don’t be afraid to hold your baby. Most fussy babies respond well to being held – sometimes all day. Try a baby carrier such as the Boba, Ergo 360 or Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One to free up your hands so you can accomplish some things while you wear and settle your baby. You are not spoiling a baby by responding to their need to be held, especially in the first three months.
- Utilize the 5 S’s. Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block book/DVD/website describes a very effective set of techniques for calming a baby by imitating life in the womb, called the 5 S’s:
- Swaddling your baby firmly with her arms brought in close to her chest.
- Side position: Turn your baby on her side while you hold her.
- Shushing noise, just like in the uterus (I love the Baby Shusher that makes the noise for you and is portable)
- Swinging/swaying motion: Babies love motion!
- Sucking: On your finger or pacifier
*The key is to try all 5 S’s at once to help settle your baby. You will soon learn which techniques are most effective for your baby. Dads seem to be great at soothing babies with the 5S’s.
- Be mindful of overstimulation. If your baby does not respond to the S’s, consider your baby may be overstimulated. Our everyday life is full of noises, smells, sounds, and sights that can be overwhelming for sensitive babies, and many react by crying. Try bringing your baby into a quiet, dark room and just hugging him close. Less is sometimes more.
- Recognize “this too shall pass”. For most babies, the peak of crying is at 6 weeks and gradually decreases by 12-14 weeks of age. When you are in the middle of a fussy period, even tomorrow seems like too far away for the crying to end. But soon your baby will be sharing their first smiles with you and you will melt and be in awe of how sweet your baby is.