10 Ways To Calm Your Fussy Baby

 

There are the joys of parenthood  the cuddles, the bonding, the overwhelming love. But there are also the challenges, like trying to soothe your fussy baby during bouts of crankiness. As any parent knows, a fussy baby can test your patience and leave you feeling exhausted and helpless. To help you out, we've put together tried-and-tested tips to help you calm your cranky baby and finally conquer those fussy periods. Walk with us.

 

Why is Your Baby So Fussy?

There's probably no sound quite as shrill and sanity-testing as the hysterical wails of a fussy baby. Understanding what might be causing your baby's fussiness is the first step to finding a solution. There's a number of reasons:

  • Hunger: Hunger is one of the most frequent culprits behind an inconsolably fussy baby. A newborn's tummy is relatively tiny, so it empties out in as little as 2-3 hours after a feed. Those tiny tummies combined with an immature feeding and sleeping schedule means they need very frequent refuelling around the clock. There are early hunger cues like bobbing heads with an open mouth, sucking on fingers or fists, or smacking lips. If you miss those early signs, the late cue is the shrieking and crankiness we all dread.
  • Fatigue: It's a vicious cycle. Tiredness leads to fussy, hysterical crying...which only makes them more tired and fussier. Unlike adults, babies aren't able to simply power through tiredness. Their immature systems can very easily become overstimulated if they're kept awake past their sleep window. They begin zoning out, losing interest in toys and people, pushing away from you, and crown it all with that inconsolable, rubbing-of-the-eyes crying.
  • Wet and Messy Nappies: There's nothing quite like the foul smells and moistness of a soiled nappy to make any baby fussy and irritable. Imagine how uncomfortable you'd feel sitting in your own waste for hours on end! Those wet, heavy loads create a damp environment that's a breeding ground for rashes and infections too. Even if you can't detect any obvious odours, babies are acutely tuned in to the discomfort of slightly damp nappies, often fussing at the first hint of wetness.
  • Sensory Overload: A newborn's brand new senses are still very immature and can be easily overwhelmed by too much environmental stimuli. Bright lights, loud noises, vigorous movements, or even certain textures and fabrics against their delicate skin can make them fussy. If your baby is disturbed by their environment, they'll show it.
  • Sickness: Sometimes, excessive fussiness and hysterical crying can be a telltale sign that your baby just isn't feeling their normal self. Ear infections, colds, tummy troubles – any sort of illness or discomfort manifests as excessive crying and irritability. Babies have no other way to communicate that they're unwell beyond tears and crankiness that just won't stop. If your instincts tell you something is amiss, never hesitate to contact a medical personnel for an examination just to put your mind at ease.  

Of course, every baby is different, so the root cause could be a combination of these factors or something else entirely. But these are very common causes, and understanding which is causing your baby's crankiness will help you use the proper soothing technique.

 

Now that we've explored the root causes, let's look into the tips and techniques that will definitely calm your fussy baby.

 

CALMING TECHNIQUES FOR YOUR FUSSY BABY

 

Shush

Few techniques are as simple yet effective as the gentle "shhhh" for calming a fussy baby. The rhythmic 'shush' sound is thought to mimic the swooshing noises they heard in the womb, providing a familiar auditory cue that triggers instant relaxation. Make the shushing sound using a gentle but consistent stream of air — not too loud or too soft.

For maximum effectiveness, combine the shushing with other soothing motions like swaying, patting or rocking back and forth. You can even record yourself shushing and play it on a loop to free up your voice.

 

Swaddle

Swaddling is like a great big hug for fussy babies and provides warmth and security that can quickly calm your baby's cries. The feeling of gentle restraint mimics the confined quarters of the womb while also preventing startling motions. To swaddle properly, use a large muslin or thin cotton square blanket, folding down one corner before laying your baby face-up on their back. Carefully wrap each side over their body, leaving room for their hips and knees to move freely. Then tuck the remaining fabric under their back.

Many parents find their babies take to the swaddle instantly, quickly settling into slumber. But some babies actively fight the wrapping. In this situation, swaddle with one or both arms out so they can self-soothe by sucking on their fingers. With practice, you'll perfect the snug swaddle technique.

Using high-quality muslin for swaddling makes it all the more effective. For this reason, we recommend the Mellie Green Organic Muslin. This muslin fabric is soft and breathable. The generous 120 x 120cm thick, absorbent material makes it perfect for swaddling, wrapping, or using as a cover during feeding times. Crafted with care from organic cotton, this muslin offers a cosy, eco-friendly option for keeping your baby snug and comfortable.

mellie-green-organic-giant-muslin

 

Cuddle

Falling back on the most primal soothing technique of all – a warm, enveloping cuddle — works wonders. There's just something so innately calming about being held skin-to-skin against a parent's chest. Your beating heart mimics the womb's familiar rhythms while your body heat and familiar scent triggers feelings of safety and contentment.

The power of the parental cuddle is rooted in biology. The close contact causes a surge of oxytocin (the 'love' hormone) for both parent and baby. This releases cortisol-lowering endorphins that rapidly reduce stress and fussiness. The chest-to-chest position is ideal for maximising these soothing hormonal effects while also aiding your baby's breathing.

Start by removing your baby's clothing down to just their nappy, then remove your top clothing and hold them upright against your bare chest, securing them with your hands or a wrap. Add some gentle swaying, patting or shushing and you've basically created a womb-like atmosphere that's tough for any fussy baby to resist! If one parent's cuddles aren't working, take turns with your partner.

 

Feed

Sometimes the most straightforward fussy baby solution is the simplest – offer up a feed! Whether breast milk or formula, the act of sucking triggers a calming, almost trance-like response in babies. The warmth and filling nature of the feed combined with skin-to-skin or close contact can rapidly soothe even the most hysterical cries.   

For overstimulated, overtired or overly fussy babes, a breastfeeding session basically presses their reset button back to a state of utter relaxation. Plus, the abundance of nutrients, antibodies and soothing hormones like oxytocin in breastmilk offer an extra calming boost. Bottles can provide the same settling effects too. If nursing or bottle-feeding doesn't seem to be working, switching between breast and bottle can sometimes do the trick.

 

Baby-Wearing

Baby-wearing is every fussy baby's dream come true. By strapping your little one securely to your chest or back in a soft wrap or structured carrier, you're providing a literal embodiment of the 'fifth trimester.' The gentle bouncing motions and rhythms of your breathing, walking or rocking can soothe even the most hysterical cries. The warmth of your body and closeness of your familiar smell takes them back to the sanctuary of the womb.

Newborns in particular tend to thrive when worn since it helps them feel safe, secure and endlessly soothed as you go about your day-to-day activities. Just be sure to practice safe baby-wearing by choosing an appropriate carrier and following guidelines for baby's positioning.

 

Use a Pacifier

For many fussy babies, the act of sucking can rapidly trigger a calming reflex by releasing naturally soothing chemicals like endorphins while aiding sleep. When used properly, pacifiers are an absolute godsend for parents of colicky, overly worked-up infants.

However, getting the timing right is key. Experts recommend introducing the pacifier once breastfeeding has been well-established, around 4-6 weeks. Then, be very consistent with offering same during fussy spells and nap/bedtime. If your babe keeps rejecting it initially, don't force it as this can ramp up the fussiness.

 

Massage

Few things are as soothing as the power of gentle human touch for fussy babies. Not only do infant massages help relax tense muscles, they promote feelings of safety, security and bonding through skin-on-skin contact. Long, rhythmic strokes focusing on the legs, feet, stomach, back and arms can improve sleep, digestion and growth while melting away fussiness. Try integrating other techniques like shushing and singing to maximise the calming effects. Done properly, baby massage is like an instant off switch for cries.

 

Use White Noise

For nine months in utero, your baby was serenaded by the constant rushing and whooshing noises of your bodily functions. So it's no surprise that the sudden silence of the outside world can be jarring and distressing for newborns. White noise comes to the rescue!

The ambient sounds of white noise mimic the lulling noises of the womb, triggering a sense of calm and aiding sleep. Use an actual white noise machine or get savvy with household items like a fan, air purifier or even the hum of the vacuum cleaner. The shushing and rhythmic sounds help drown out any sharp external noises that could trigger fussiness or waking. Be sure to keep the volume moderate; there's no need to blast it in their tiny ears.

 

Move Around (Or Make Them Move)

When crying just won't stop no matter what, sometimes a change of scenery and some gentle motion is all a fussy baby craves. Whether it's a leisurely stroll in a pushchair while you take in some fresh air, a few laps around the house with your baby strapped to your chest, or a few minutes spent bouncing or swaying them, soothing movement can stop crankiness. The motion provides a great chance to try other techniques like shushing, singing or rhythmically patting their back in tandem too.

Or, let them control the movements and flow by placing them in a baby swing or rocking chair. Some babies are lulled by the self-propelled motions. It helps release tension and remind them of the constant movement they experienced in the womb.

 

Create a Calming Environment

Remember, too much noise, light, or activity can easily overwhelm a baby's delicate senses, leading to fussiness. If your baby seems overstimulated, try dimming the lights and minimising noise to provide a calming environment.

 

 Designer-Grey-Mouse-Cotton-Onesie

 

 

As much as these soothing techniques work, there will still be times when it feels like those cries are never-ending. In these moments, it is important to remind yourself that your baby's fussiness is just a phase, and it will pass. Babies go through intense periods of cluster fussiness as they rapidly develop. It's their only way of communicating any discomfort or need for closeness. As long as you calmly meet their basic needs and they don't seem ill or in distress, then those inconsolable crying bouts don't necessarily mean you're doing anything 'wrong' as a parent. Your baby won't be remain fussy forever. Don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Staying patient, caring for yourself and trusting your intuition as a parent is crucial. You've got this!

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