For those of us who weren’t used to hearing a crying baby, 5 screaming minutes can seem like hours! Our stress levels rise–which, of course, our baby picks up on and cries louder. Soon, you’re crying right along with your little one. The cry is meant to disturb us. It is the perfect signal for help. I love that there is a biological response to crying built into mothers–blood flows to her breasts and her instinct is to respond and nurse.
There are some tricks that can work with a fussy baby–not always and not with every baby, mind you. But they might be worth a shot.
- I’m a big fan of Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block DVD. Many libraries have this DVD available. It can be a life-saver! He literally gets babies to stop crying instantly (and no, he doesn’t use duct tape). He uses the 5 S’s–swaddling, sucking, side-lying, swaying, and shushing. I won’t reveal his secrets but I encourage you to take a peak at Dr. Karp in action.
- Much of calming a fussy baby (assuming you’ve met her first needs of feeding and changing) involve replicating the womb environment. To do this, you need motion, noise, touch, and confinement.
- Babywearing gives you the motion and the touch. In some cases, you might need to be skin-to-skin. So, grab a sling or a wrap.
- The noise might be a white noise machine, ocean or water sounds, the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, or anything with some repetition to it.
- The confinement can be a strong burrito swaddle or the tightness of a wrap or sling. Some babies need a combination of sucking and motion to calm. Remember when wearing your baby that most babies prefer to be upright; not in a cradle position unless they are nursing.
- Go for a drive. I still fall asleep when I’m a passenger in a car–my mom swears it was the only way to get me to sleep!
- Sit on a yoga ball and bounce while holding or wearing your baby.
- Give a change of scenery. Try going for a walk outside or taking a bath together.
- Dance together.
- Infant massage with some nice lavender aromatherapy. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
- Dr. Sears recommends rolling your baby gently from side-to-side while he is draped over a beach ball (tummy to the ball).
- Try warmth on your baby’s belly by using a rice sock or something like this.
- Change your diet.
- Ask for help from a friend or hire a postpartum doula. Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. If you feel overwhelmed, place your baby in a safe place and step away for a moment to take a deep breath. Lower your expectations–you are not Supermom or Superdad.
- If you suspect colic, here are some ideas for coping and comforting.
Some babies (about 10%) are considered “high needs.” There are 12 main signs that you might have a high needs model. Often, they feed more, sleep less, cry more, cry louder, and seem intense and sensitive. I can tell you from experience that a high needs newborn can be an exhausting-hit-by-a-tornado experience. But these babies love intensely, attach deeply, and keep parents on their toes! If you suspect your baby is high needs, go ahead and order the book, Raising Your Spirited Child and check out some tips online.
If you’re feeling out of ideas or need some help, you can email me.