We’ve all been there at one point or another right? You’re holding a baby that just won’t stop crying and despite your best efforts you feel your own tears starting to well up. It is so frustrating, overwhelming and upsetting when you’re baby is fussy and you can’t get them calmed down. They don’t talk, they can’t tell you what’s wrong and the continuous crying makes it hard to even think straight to come up with ideas of how to solve it. If this is you today (or any day), I see you mama and I am giving you a virtual hug! I can’t tell you why your baby is crying. However, I have a few ideas I keep in my back pocket for those days when baby is unexplainably grumpy and I hope at least one of them will work for you!
Check for Immediate Needs
I feel confident you’ve already checked to see if their hungry, or need a diaper change. But a few other things could be causing distress. Do they have gas? Check for them pulling their feet to their chest, excessive squirming, if the cry sounds pained. If so you could try doing bicycle legs to ease the discomfort or even gas drops (check with your pediatrician on this). Not gas? Check for a hair wrapped around a finger or toe. Sounds random but it happens and can make a baby unusually fussy until you get it! If you’ve covered these more immediate and directly solvable concerns with no luck it’s time to pull out the bag of tricks!
Adjust the Environment
This one can be helpful anytime but especially if you’re in a more stimulating environment. IT can be a good idea to remove the baby from all of that stimulation and do your best to get them into a more calming atmosphere. Find a spot where you can dim or turn out the lights and where you can keep the sound down. Snuggle them close in the new environment, letting them decompress.
Another way to change the environment is to get outside! I have found this to be one of the most successful strategies in my fussy baby toolkit. Either pop them in the stroller or carrier and head for a walk or even just stepping out onto the porch can work wonders! Magical baby-crying-stopping wonders. I had a summer baby so this strategy was an easy peasy one for me but trust me even if I had a winter baby, we would have been outside bundled in a blanket to help make that baby happy.
This is going to be more helpful to breastfeeding moms but it was a good option for when my little guy was truly inconsolable. I know sometimes, especially as new moms, we worry about over feeding and so we’re tempted to only feed every few hours. But what I’ve learned is that if your baby isn’t hungry they won’t eat or if they are too full, it will come back up. Babies are fully capable of non-nutritive sucking which allows them to nurse more for comfort than food. If you’re not nursing or if this doesn’t feel like a good option, you could also offer a pacifier, your finger or a tether for them suck on while you hold them close.
Water + babies=some kind of magic. Even just turning on the bath or shower when my guy was fussy would start to calm him. You could try turning the shower on and rocking baby nearby. The sound of the water, the warmth and rocking could be a perfect combination. If your baby enjoys a bath, go ahead and get them in the tub. It may not be their usual bath time but a fussy baby means anything goes! This last idea might sound weird but I swear it works! When baby won’t calm down, simply turn on the sink faucet and run their head back and forth underneath. Not their face! Just the top of their head. I swear our little one immediately stopped crying and was happy as a clam the whole time.
Try walking around with the baby. Put them in a swing or bouncer if you have one and see if they start to settle. Go for a walk in the stroller or a short drive around the neighborhood in your car. There is something about movement that is your friend when your baby is fussy. Plus the use of a swing, stroller or car seat for a ride will give your arms a much needed break from carrying your fussy baby around!
There might be times where it truly feels like nothing works. You’ve tried everything here, all of the suggestions from the internet, your mom and best friend but still your little baby is fussy. In these moments my biggest recommendation is stay calm and ask for help when you need it. If you need to set them in their crib to take a few deep breaths, do that. Ask your partner or a friend to come and hold the baby for a bit to give you a break. Put headphones in while you’re trying to soothe them to help keep you sane. Remind yourself it will not last forever (I promise it wont!).
If you have any other suggestions or magic tricks to calm a fussy baby, share them here for all of the mamas to see!