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My baby girl is just about to turn one month. I'm looking to get some deeper understanding of what she's feeling and what's frustrating her when she's unhappy.

She fusses, and sometimes screams furiously, when she is put down, whether on her back or stomach, or in a swing. She's generally less fussy when in the Baby Bjorn, especially if I'm moving, and likes to be rocked or bounced when held.

However, often even rocking or bouncing her won't work, and she seems to be very uncomfortable and frustrated, kicking her legs and waving her arms. At these times two methods calm her without fail:

  1. Holding her under the armpits and lifting her slowly up and down, using my fingers to balance her head from the back. The problem is I can't keep this up long, as it quickly tires my shoulders and arms.

  2. Putting her in a warm bath.

I'd like to know if these preferences might indicate something more general that I could do to keep her comfortable and less fussy -- something that doesn't involve a continuous bath or weightlifing with a 10lb baby for hours :)

I've tried swaddling and shushing, but these generally don't help in her case.

I should also add that all of the above is referring to times where she's already been recently fed and changed, so those aren't what's causing her discomfort.

Thanks so much for any advice!

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I have two questions before I can try to answer (having had 2 out of 3 babies who were very fussy I feel I have something to offer.) 1) has she always been this way, or is it a new thing for her to be so difficult? 2) has she had any recent illness? Even a slight thing that didn't require a doctor's appointment? –  Jax Apr 13 at 17:46
    
@Jax, she's always been this way. –  Alice Apr 14 at 15:45
    
@Chrys, Sorry I edited the post. She's 1 month. –  Alice Apr 14 at 15:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A few more possibilities to consider:

  • A cranky tummy, particularly when recently fed. Young babies gastrointestinal system may not be moving things along smoothly. You can try and figure this out by seeing how baby responds to different positions. One good test to differentiate "tummy" from lonely / bored is to lie down on your back, with baby on your tummy in the "problem" positions. If they were just wanting attention they'll be happy. Note the timing can vary -- shortly after feeding is most common, however some babies will have trouble a few hours later.
  • Lonely - All babies want to be close to their caregivers. The amount can very greatly for any kid, but most every kid will fuss when they want more attention. You can separate this need out from others by giving baby light interaction, and see if that makes them happy. Bear in mind if they are hurting their happiness will improve with the interaction, but they will still be prone to fussiness.
  • Bored - I want to play with something fun! This can seem like "lonely" as well (since playing with a caregiver is usually fun) but a neat toy will make them happy as well. Note this is frequently something that goes along with "sleepy" for babies that fight sleep.

For your baby, my guess is cranky tummy. If so, a bouncy with a strong vibrator may do wonders -- the vibrations help things move along in the digestive system, without needing a caregiver to hold / bounce them.

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These are good reasons. Didn't think about boredom –  ChristopherW Apr 14 at 21:39

Have you checked her for the symptoms of reflux/silent reflux? Dr Sears' book had a good set of symptoms that were a help for us when we were trying to find the problem. Google it for more info through http://www.babycenter.com.au/a567208/reflux was a good overview. She might need some help with managing it if she does have it. It went away by 10 months for my first (no reflux in my second). We managed it by raising her cot so she slept inclined, keeping her upright for 30 mins after a feed. Check with your doc first but infant Gaviscon really helped her. If it is really bad they might prescribe something stronger.

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All those things would calm down my toddler too, they like to be warm and near you, baby bjorn was my daughter preffered place to nap. Sometimes they are fussy just because they want to do something or reach something and they can't do it or they have tooth ache or stomach ache... you can not keep them happy 100 % of the time but another thing that every child love and especially babies is music, it doesn't have to be a lullaby, try different generes and you will see her reactions, I love listening to music and dancing with my daughter and so she does since she was born. Another thing that my daughter loves is tickles and some massages after bath when you put some body cream on her. But you surely will know all this things already.

Sorry for not being more concrete or give you a real answer but i think that you are already putting all your effort in trying to understand and please your baby and this is the most important in my opinion, they need to be listen and feel loved as everyone.

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I can't comment on the main thread yet, sorry about the useless answer, I read the question for 1 year old babie instead of 1 month, with newborns of course you have to pay attention to the diet and sleeping customs as other commenters has already pointed to. –  Juanmi Rodriguez Apr 15 at 10:03

That's a tough one. Newborn babies generally only cry for three reasons (this is an oversimplification at best): hungry, wet, or hot/cold. Since you mentioned this can happen after being fed or after a changing, that rules two out. You also mentioned swaddling. What do you swaddle with? Is it a warm blanket or just a regular thin blanket? Perhaps she is cold?

If my daughter, as a newborn, got like this we would put her in a warm bath and afterwards we would lather her up with some Baby Bedtime Lotion (this isn't a promotion for Johnson and Johnson, we used the store brand). If you haven't tried that, give it a go.

11 hours later

I started writing this answer as soon as the question came up, but I wasn't quite ready to post yet. I wanted a little more time to think. Two thoughts have come up in my mind since then:

  1. Are you stressed? Babies feed off of our emotions. If we are happy, generally, they are too. If we are stressed or anxious, so are they. I remember when my daughter was an infant and I had to put her to bed because mama had other plans on certain nights. My daughter would fuss for hours and hours on end and I would get even more anxious as time grew on. Eventually someone told me that she probably sensed I was nervous and thus it made her nervous. What do you know; when I calmed down and dealt with the fussiness calmly, she calmed down too. Are you remaining calm while she is fussy? Are there external factors that are affecting your stress level (above the norm of being a mom)? Are you anxious about something? Nervous? If this is the case, perhaps you should slow down with your baby, sit on the couch, put your feet up and relax. Maybe this will help her relax too. There is no harm in taking a break every now and then.

  2. Breast-fed, formula-fed, or combined? How is her diet? If you are relying solely on formula, could that be causing her some gastrointestinal issues? Is she gassy? Does she spit up more than what you have seen with other children? If so, this could be indicative of incompatibility with the formula brand. If you are breast-feeding, what is your diet? If you are eating unhealthy or even healthy foods that are potentially spicy or have very potent flavors (garlic, onion, peppers), this may be affecting her stomach also. What about your caffeine intake? Caffeine has the potential to have the same effects on her as it does you. If you find yourself at greater than 2 cups of coffee, more than one soda, or even caffeinated tea, she may be getting some of that, assuming you are breastfeeding.

These are just some thoughts that came up in my head. I know a fussy baby can be stressful. I think everyone who participates on this website has been in that situation (otherwise we wouldn't be here asking for help).

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