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Home  >  Baby Sleep Articles fussy baby help

this article used by courtesy of St. Louis Children's Hospital

How to Help a Fussy Baby

 

If infants could talk, they could tell us exactly what is making them uncomfortable at any given moment.

We all know that since infants can't discuss their problems, they cry. Sometimes, they cry loudly, until they get what they need. Coping with a crying, fussy baby can be frustrating. That's why St. Louis Children's Hospital occupational therapist Marianne Belcke, teaches a class that gives parents some methods to help calm their baby and spare their nerves.

"Sometimes being a parent of an infant is like being a sleuth," Belcke says. "You have to train yourself to look for clues that will lead to comfort for your baby and peace and quiet for you."

Almost nothing makes a baby fussier than hunger. If you're feeding your child regularly and he still seems hungry, Belcke says it may be time to dig deeper. Food sensitivities or feeding problems can interfere with the way your baby gets the nourishment needed to feel comfortable and satisfied. It could be that the baby has a hypersensitive gag reflex. That sometimes can be solved by using a bottle with a shorter nipple. Maybe there's something in the mother's diet that doesn't agree with the baby's system after breast-feeding. "Once the problem is identified, it is usually something that's easily remedied," Belcke says.

Often, however, it's not the food but the steady stream of activity that makes your baby restless. For instance, at dinnertime, the other kids are home from school; the smells of cooking and the rattle of pots and pans fill the kitchen, televisions and stereos blare from all directions.

"It could be too much for the baby to take," Belcke says. "Over-stimulation is a big reason for fussiness." Removing the baby from the scene, swaddling, speaking in low tones and providing some white noise, such as from a fan, to drown out sounds from the other parts of the house, might be all the baby needs to calm down.

Another tricky time for infants is late at night. Experts agree that regular night crying in infants more than 4 months old may be due to conditioning. If you find yourself regularly dealing with crying at 2 a.m., you may want to adjust the way you respond. Belcke suggests that you eliminate long daytime naps and put the baby to bed awake so he will learn to put himself to sleep. And once you put an infant in his crib, resist the urge to pick him up again. "As long as parents provide a safe environment and the baby is otherwise healthy, they should know that it's OK to leave a crying baby in his crib in his room with the door closed. Other than a brief check every 10 to 15 minutes, let the baby just cry it out," Belcke says. "If crying persists all night for several nights, contact your pediatrician for help."

Remember, also, that you cannot spoil a baby -- if he is crying, there is something bothering him. He is not trying to annoy you, he is trying to get you to fix whatever is wrong.

Parents should also never feel guilty about taking a break from their fussy baby, Belcke says. "Ask a friend to come over so you can get out for awhile. Share your feelings and frustrations with your spouse or another devoted listener and get plenty of rest."

In other words, pamper yourself as much as possible, and you'll be more ready to comfort your baby.

  • This article is  copyrighted, and used with permission of St. Louis Children's Hospital. All information on Slumber Sounds is for educational purposes only, and is not  medical  or healthcare advice, nor a substitute for medical and professional services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal situation. For medical advice, including diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician or other healthcare provider regarding any condition and before starting any treatment. We supply this information with the understanding that Slumber Sounds is not engaged in rendering medical services or other professional services or advice. 

  • This article is  copyrighted, and used with permission of the Pampers Parenting Institute. All information on Slumber Sounds is for educational purposes only, and is not  medical  or healthcare advice, nor a substitute for medical and professional services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal situation. For medical advice, including diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician or other healthcare provider regarding any condition and before starting any treatment. We supply this information with the understanding that Slumber Sounds is not engaged in rendering medical services or other professional services or advice. 

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