Crying is a baby’s way of communicating wants and needs, including hunger, discomfort, frustration or just a simple desire to be held. For most parents, correctly responding to your little bundle of joy is a process of trial and error.
When your baby reaches about two or three weeks old, she may begin crying for no apparent reason, which can last anywhere from five minutes to an hour each time. These fussy baby episodes also generally occur around the same time each day. Relax, your little one’s mood swings tend to magically disappear around the 4-month marker.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help you soothe her fussy britches and get back to bonding with your baby. Just remember, every baby has her own temperament and will respond differently to each soothing method.
Fussy Baby Tips
1. Walk or Go for a Drive: Many babies love movement; after all, they bounced around with you for nine months! A walk around the block or a scenic drive can be a terrific way for you and your precious cargo to get out of the house and take a break.
2. Evaluate Needs: Through trial and error, try to evaluate why your baby is crying. Does she need to be fed? Does she need a diaper change? Is she too cold or too hot? Over time, many mothers learn the different sounds of their babies’ cries and can easily assess and address their wants and needs.
3. Rock or Sing: Many babies enjoy rhythmic motions in your arms or in an infant carrier. Other babies like the rhythmic sounds of song. Some babies even enjoy the sound of a vacuum cleaner, the hum of a fan, or static on a radio, because it is similar to the noise in the womb and muffles sharper tones.
4. Swaddle: Some babies love to be swaddled in a blanket. Swaddling reminds babies of the snug time they enjoyed in the womb. Just be careful that your baby doesn’t get overheated and that the blanket stays away from her face.
5. Massage: Massage has been proven to be effective in soothing babies, and especially premature babies. To massage a baby, gently stroke her back and upper body using your fingertips.
If you still cannot soothe your fussy baby after several attempts, then you may have a bigger problem on your hands. Colic is a condition that produces an episode of crying or screaming that can last up to two or three hours, or even longer, on a daily basis. The first issue you should address in dealing with a colicky baby is to take her to a pediatrician and make sure she is healthy and does not have an allergy. Some doctors will recommend a formula designed especially for babies with colic.
The most important thing to remember when your baby is winding up for the crying game is to take frequent breaks. A few minutes crying in the crib will not hurt the baby and may improve your ability to cope with the stress a crying baby can bring. If you are still ready to pull out your hair or collapse in a puddle of tears, call in reinforcements!
Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family and neighbors for a hand. They are dying to hold that baby anyway.