By Guest Blogger Stacy Leighton
Many thanks to Forsyth Family magazine for letting us share Stacy’s article here on TMoM. We are guessing many of you can relate to the topic of fussy babies. We hope these tips make you – and baby – more calm! ~ Katie
Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Stay Calm and Mommy On,” right next to a “Baby On Board” bumper sticker. I had to smile. I remember very well exactly what that feels like, although those statements mean something very different when your children are grown. Still, I have earned every one of these gray hairs and crow’s feet, and you know what? I would do it all again.
I’ve thought a lot about that new Mom, and others I’ve seen in my schools or the grocery store. Sleep deprived, sporting spit-up rags like accessories, with something like a combination of abject fear and self-doubt looming behind those Foster Grants. From the minute our babies arrive, we work tirelessly to make sure they are happy and well adjusted. Unfortunately, they do not come with instruction manuals and 300-word vocabularies. We have become detectives, solving mysteries with only non-verbal clues (later you will be looking for the usual suspects, persons of interest, but that’s another story). It can be exhausting.
Babies cry. No, really, they do, sometimes a lot. It pierces your very soul, it can wreak havoc in your sleep cycle, routines, relationships, and even have you questioning your abilities as a caregiver. Stop it, seriously, keep calm—you can do this. The first key to calming your child is being calm. Here are some reasons babies cry and what you can try to ease their anxiousness.
1.) I’m Hungry – Babies have little tummies, but are growing and developing more rapidly than they ever will. Many new Mom’s look at feeding every 4 hours, but babies are as different as we are. Trust that you will know (and she will let you know). During growth spurts they may want more; try adding an extra ounce (just in case). These growth spurts are usually accompanied by, or followed by, periods of longer than usual sleep cycles.
2.) My Tummy Hurts – Gas bubbles happen; it is not always a chronic condition (colic). Be sure to burp your baby throughout his or her bottle. Gently pat their back while they rest on your shoulder. If their tummy is hard to the touch, it could be gas. Keep trying. Another technique for easing discomfort is to hold your baby to you, making contact tummy-to-tummy. The heat from Mommy along with gentle swaying and loving care is genius.
If they appear uncomfortable and spitting up becomes frequent, or projectile, or accompanied by struggling with their bowels movements, talk to your doctor. You may need to change formulas.
3.) I’m Tired –Along with growth spurts, overstimulation and exposure to new environments (like the grocery store or daycare) can result in a need for more sleep. It is a coping skill. If your baby is over-tired or overstimulated, sleep is probably the answer. Gently patting helps, car rides and my personal favorite, lullabies or playing ‘white noise’ (run a fan or play an app).
4.) Hell Hour – Yes I said it, because you may feel it. This (unfortunately) often happens right after you and/or Daddy get home from work, in late afternoon or early evening. This is a restless time for babies. This is normal, and doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong. Usually providing a change in position or stimulation helps. Try mobiles or swings.
5.) Hold me – We need nurturing as much as nutrition in order to grow, to be healthy, to build a better brain. Science supports that bonding is critical to your child’s long-term physical and psychological health and wellness. But what if you are elbow-deep in dishes, or in another room? Hearing your voice may be just the ticket. Talking, singing, soothing until you can scoop them up works wonders.
6.) I’m Hot, I’m Cold − these are obvious, and you’ll be able to tell. If your child has developed fever, rashes or other mysterious maladies, by all means call the doctor. Otherwise simply pay close attention and trust your instincts. In the beginning, try to sleep when she sleeps; the housework can wait, you need rest, too. Our babies pick up on our feelings, they will react in kind, so let’s stay calm. Before long you will begin to recognize your child’s specific cries, and you’ll know exactly what they need. This may be new for you, and guess what? It’s new for them, too. You will figure this out together.
This article has been reposted with permission from Forsyth Family magazine.