Why is My Baby So Fussy?


The age-old question. Why in the world is my baby so fussy?

The good news is there's a reason. The bad news is, we don't always know what that reason is. Troubleshooting through your baby's woes is often the very first introduction into parenthood. Consider this your handy-dandy guide to troubleshooting your baby's tears.

First, obviously, you want to address basic needs. Is your baby tired? Is your baby hungry? Does your baby need a diaper change? Is your baby too hot or cold? These might seem like silly things to suggest, but often after long bouts of crying it's hard to process through the basics. So, keep it simple. Start with these and go from there.

The next thing you'll want to address are discomforts that you might not readily see. First, check baby's fingers and toes and make sure that they do not have any threads, hairs, or fibers stuck around to them. This is oftentimes referred to as a hair tourniquet and is easily overlooked. Check nails and make sure that they don't have any thing poking baby. Then move on to addressing what is often the reason, gas or poop.

Remedies for gas actually starts right after you feed baby. Ensuring that baby has a good latch and is well burped can help avoid a lot of fussiness. Remember that babies are brand new and sensations are new for them as well. Their gas may not be hurting them as bad as their screams would indicate, but they have no point of reference. Eliminating gas bubbles as soon as they are formed and help later on.

Next you will want to address any gas that has already gotten caught in their tummy. Baby massage, bicycling legs, and holding baby upright may help alleviate discomfort and gas. Continue until baby seems settled. There are some great resources on YouTube for infant massage and different holds for baby. Here's a great one from our friends in Nashville at Music City Doulas.

If poop is a problem sometimes the above will help. There will be times, though, when baby needs a bit more help. Putting them in a warm bath and letting them relax will often help to move the issue where it needs to go. Watch out! This one can get messy.

After addressing all of the basic, common issues that may cause fussiness in a baby, maybe your baby still isn't settled. Sometimes babies just cry. That is both an awesome thing as well as a really, really hard thing. It's a good thing, because your baby is trying to communicate with you. However, sometimes it's difficult to deal with crying when you feel like you've done everything you possibly can.

In this case, try wearing baby in a sling or carrier, swaddling them or gently rocking them and talking or shushing in their ear. Other things to try might be white noise, gentle music, dark lighting, or using one or all of the five s's from Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block. 

Additionally, a postpartum doula is a great way to have an extra set of expertise, hands, and thoughts to help your team come up with a plan for baby.

When your baby's crying crosses from normal into upsetting or worrisome, it's a good idea to put in a call to your local nurse line or your pediatrician. If you genuinely feel like your baby is crying too much, you might be right. Parents have a great intuition and sense of their baby's needs. While most people might tell you crying is normal if you feel something is off don't feel uncomfortable calling for help. There are lots of stories of parents whose children acted "normal" but their parents felt off and something was discovered.

Trust your gut, you know your baby best.

Need a helping hand? There's a doula for that.