Timeless Tips For Quieting A Fussy Baby

Three timeless and practical tips for calming a fussy baby. A must-read for new and first-time parents.

New parents often envision life with a rosy-cheeked, happy, and playful baby. However, there are times when baby is upset, afraid, tired, lonely, hungry, wet, bored, or hurting. Added to that, baby's communication skills are elementary at best. A fussy and crying baby can make parents feel inadequate, irritable, and overwhelmed. Using the three timeless and practical tips, parents will better be able to quiet and calm a fussy baby.

Tip Number One. Meet baby's physical needs.

It is no surprise that babies, like children and adults feel better when fed, warm, clean, and rested. At first signs of crying and/or fussing, check baby's physical needs. Does her diaper need to be changed? Is the diaper too tight or too loose? Is baby's bottom irritable or rash-prone? If so, explore diaperless options and immediately change dirty diapers. If there does not seem to be a problem with baby's diaper, check baby's clothes. Is baby dressed appropriately for the weather? A good guide for baby's dress is the same or slightly warmer clothes that make you comfortable. Are there any pins or tags irritating baby's skin? Does your laundering method and detergent bother baby's skin or cause rashes?

If all seems to be well with baby's diaper and clothes, check to see if baby is hungry. Signs of hunger include rooting for a nipple, sucking motions, and crying. Throw out the notion of developing a feeding schedule; your baby's stomach will let her know when she is hungry. If you are breastfeeding, realize that your baby will eat quite often (anywhere from 30 min. to several hour intervals), and more often than formula-fed babies. For further questions on nursing, seek help from La Leche League. If your little one still fusses and cries after checking for the previous physical needs, she may be tired. Signs of tiredness include rubbing her eyes, looking drowsy, and general fussiness. Create a peaceful and calming environment for baby to sleep. Many times, especially as a young baby, she will fall asleep at the breast or while drinking a bottle. Let go of preconceived notions of how much and long babies in general should sleep. Your baby's own internal clock will determine this.

Tip Number Two. Meet baby's mental needs.

If baby is still fussing and crying after meeting her physical needs, concentrate on her mental and emotional needs. This often takes a bit more detective work; however, parents who do so will be rewarded with a happy and content baby. Babies get bored, lonely, frustrated, and afraid, just as children and adults do. However, babies have yet to develop the communication and coping skills to handle these feelings. Observe baby's surroundings and see if a change in environment uplifts her mood. Also, include her in your daily activities to prevent boredom and loneliness. It's no secret that babies need lots of interaction with caregivers and a variety of experiences to be happy. Other questions to ask include: Is baby bored with the toys within her reach? Does baby want human contact instead of an inanimate object? Does baby want a better angle to see what you are doing? Is she afraid because you left the room without her to change the laundry? Is she lonely because for the last 30 minutes she has been in a swing, while you cooked dinner?

Tip Number Three. Meet baby's need for movement.

Most babies enjoy movement of some kind. Recent research even indicates that babies require movement for healthy neurological and brain development. Besides promoting proper development, movement is a great way to calm a fussy and/or crying baby.

Including baby in your daily activities will meet her need for movement and closeness. Small babies often enjoy the comfort of slings. Babies in slings are not only warm and snuggly, but continuously rocked to the daily movements of mom or dad. Although not extremely popular in our culture, slings are used worldwide to carry different sizes of babies and small children. Slings usually come with pictures of possible carrying positions. For older babies that sit up, frontpacks, front carriers, and backpacks work great. These carrying devices allow baby free movement and a feeling of closeness, while allowing the adult free use of both hands.

Other types of movement that are useful in calming a fussy and crying baby include car rides, swings (both inside and outside), cradles, and rockers.

Quieting a fussy and crying baby is a combination of detective work and compassion. Parents that seek to understand their babies will create a family unit centered around communication, respect, and love. Best of all, quieting a fussy baby will perpetuate peace and a mutually satisfying relationship for all family members.

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