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Fussy Baby - An Overview

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Crying and babies go hand in hand. It is their way of communicating. This article will shed some light on the reasons for fussiness in babies and their management.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Bhaisara Baraturam Bhagrati

Published At November 4, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 10, 2022

Why Do Babies Cry?

A baby’s first cry is the most incredible joy in any parent’s life. Medically, it shows that the lungs of the baby are healthy. However, as the weeks go by, the same cry becomes a source of frustration and anxiety for parents who do not know how to soothe their babies. It is normal for an infant to cry for at least two to three hours daily for the first six weeks. The first three weeks are the hardest. During this time, they are either peaceful or fussy.

It is an inevitable truth that the baby cries a lot. It can be overwhelming if a parent cannot identify why the baby is crying. While crying is normal for newborns, first-time parents always seem a little lost about what to do. However, the baby mimics the mood or emotions of the parents. That is why the very first step towards soothing a baby is calming down by oneself as a parent. A new parent is often sleep-deprived in earlier days and is still getting used to this new responsibility in life. It is essential to know the reason why the baby is crying. Very often, one of the things explained below makes a baby fussy. Such as:

  • The Baby Might Be Hungry: It does not just specify to children; adults too get cranky while hungry. Moreover, the researchers suggest that if the baby is hungry and crying, it often has a “neh” sound. It is because the baby is searching for milk and his tongue reflexively hits the crown of the mouth that produces the sound.

  • The Baby Might Be Tired: Sometimes, due to various reasons, it is difficult for a little one to fall asleep. This can make them fussy the whole day. Parents should sing a lullaby or swaddle them to ease the process of sleeping.

  • The Baby Might Need to Be Burped: Usually, if a baby starts crying right after feeding, it means that he needs to burp. Burping the baby is usually required after feeding, but often parents need to burp them after hiccups or if they have sucked up on something that involves swallowing air.

  • The Baby Might Be Overstimulated: Overstimulation happens when the baby experiences sudden noise, sensations, or an activity. This can make them cry.

  • The Diaper Might Be Dirty or Wet: Some babies carry dirty diapers for hours and will not show them on their faces. Whereas others start crying the minute their diaper gets wet. Parents should often use a sniff test approach or a diaper with an indicator to check the wetness.

  • The Baby Might Be Too Hot or Cold: Sometimes, a baby may feel uncomfortable due to temperature changes. Often, too hot a temperature can also give them rashes. And too cold temperature disturbs their health.

  • The Baby Might Be In Pain or Is Sick: Sometimes, the baby may cry because of some health issue. As they cannot communicate, crying is the best sign they can give. Moreover, excessive crying could be the reason for colic. Parents should consult their pediatrician if the crying is excessive.

What Can Help a Fussy Baby?

There are many ways through which parents can comfort their fussy baby. However, not all these will work for every baby. Parents should calmly try each one of the options and see which works for their baby and which does not.

  • Mothers should avoid overfeeding their babies because more than the required food can make them uncomfortable. Each feeding should have at least two to 2.5 hours of a gap in between.

  • If a baby is fussy after feeding, the mother should avoid caffeine products and change their diet. Mothers should also avoid spicy or gassy food while breastfeeding, as some researchers claim that these affect the baby's health.

  • While taking a nap, the baby's room should be quiet and without noise and light. This can give them comfortable sleep without disturbance. Also, babies tend to be less fussy if they sleep soundlessly.

  • Try gently stroking the infant’s belly.

  • Give the baby a warm bath.

  • Cuddle a baby in a kangaroo mother care position. It is a great technique for premature babies. A mother can have skin-to-skin contact with the baby across her bare chest. This technique has a wonderful effect on soothing babies.

  • Try white noise that has a soothing effect, especially on babies.

Furthermore, there are five “S” techniques for fussy babies. These are:

  • Swaddling: Babies often experience a reflex where they feel like they are falling, and their limbs flail so that they can wake themselves up. Snug wrap baby in a large thin, and soft blanket. It creates a womb-like feeling for a baby.

  • Side or Stomach position: Hold the baby in one’s arms and place her body on the left side to help digestion or support the stomach. Gently rub their back until they fall asleep.

  • Shush: Along with shhh and humming sounds, try to stroke the baby’s head from the front of the forehead to the back of the forehead gently.

  • Swinging: Calming motions remind babies how they felt in the womb. So, swinging can certainly calm them down. Moreover, parents can try walking while swinging.

  • Sucking: Use a pacifier. Sucking movement comforts the babies.

What Are the Things to Remember for Parents?

As parents, it is normal to get overwhelmed and frustrated sometimes. There are a few things that every parent should keep in mind, such as:

  • If a baby is less than a month old, he or she cannot be spoiled.

  • If a baby constantly cries, it does not mean he or she is rejecting the parent.

  • Fussiness decreases with increasing age.

When to Call the Health Care Provider?

Very often, crying stops when the baby is comforted. However, there are certain situations where parents should immediately seek medical attention, such as:

  • If a baby is crying continuously for more than three hours.

  • If a baby is not feeding well or has diarrhea or vomiting.

  • If a cry sounds different, like they are in pain.

  • If the baby’s body temperature increases.

  • If a baby can be soothed and constantly fussy.

Conclusion:

If a baby is constantly crying or fussy, it can also affect the parents' health. So, it is very important to know the cause of the fuss before trying to manage it. Every technique and option is different, and so is every baby. Parents should only follow the options suitable and comforting to their baby.

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Dr. Bhaisara Baraturam Bhagrati
Dr. Bhaisara Baraturam Bhagrati

Pediatrics

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fussy baby
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