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My 1 month old daughter has starting something I am trying to understand. While I am holding her, either in a blanket or not, she will start grunting and kicking her legs. Crying usually starts soon after a few minutes of this.

I thought this was gas or pooping, but that doesn't seem to be the case, unless she's having trouble passing whatever has got her so unhappy.

Could this be a hunger cue? Any thoughts?

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Hi Michael, changed the title slightly to make it attract people who can answer. Please rollback/re-edit if I've taken a liberty –  deworde Jan 31 '13 at 17:37
    
If you hand her to Mom, does she stop? Kids are pretty good at telling you want they want (if you give it to them is a separate issue). Some of my kids took a while to warm up to me, but they all did :) –  gahooa Feb 1 '13 at 3:47
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6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Some things to consider:

  • On the back is a "danger" posture for babies; they can't move, can't roll over, so all they can do is cry for Mommy.

  • At one month, babies start to enter a phase called "PURPLE crying". They simply cry; there's often no rhyme or reason to it, and no way to soothe them. It's thought to be developmental, by strengthening lungs and torso muscles and also by getting you, the parents, to provide sensual stimulation trying to soothe or distract them.

  • At one month old, your baby starts to learn what "bored" is, and being held by Mommy, no matter how soothing, can be kind of boring.

Dr. Karp's Five "S"s got us through this period pretty easily, actually. They are, in the order you should try them:

  • Swaddling - Don't just wrap the baby in a blanket; wrap them tightly, pinning their arms at their sides. They won't like this at first, but after they're calmed, keeping them swaddled keeps them feeling like they're safe and sound in Mommy's arms (or womb). Look up swaddling techniques; you can do a "DUDU" swaddle with any receiving blanket about 30-36" on a side, or you can invest in a HALO or SwaddleMe wrap that are as idiot-proof as these things get.

  • Side-holding - It's amazing how much of an "off-switch" this is. After swaddling them, hold them on their side, with their head in your hand. They can either be facing in or out, your choice. It's nearly magical how quickly it quiets them.

  • Shushing - For a few babies or a few situations, the first two don't work every time. The baby's saying "whaddaya got? You got nothin". The next step is shushing; lean in close, but not directly in their face, and make a loud, constant "SHHHHHHH". You won't hurt their ears unless you're blowing air directly into them. A hair dryer (heat off, please, and not pointed at them) or a vacuum cleaner running are easy substitutes. This mimics the white noise he or she heard in the womb (which can be quite loud).

  • Swinging - This won't calm them down, but it may keep them calm. Once they're swaddled and have stopped crying, when you need to do something, you can put them in their mechanical swing (best.investment.evar) still in their swaddle, on the highest setting (anything less generally doesn't work very well). There are other techniques which I won't try to describe, because doing them correctly requires seeing it, and doing them incorrectly can hurt your baby.

  • Sucking - Pacifiers are your best friend, at least once your baby's mastered breast feeding. Keep one tethered to the swaddling blanket (though make sure that the tether's clipped in such a way that it can't end up wrapped around baby's head or neck). Some people think that if the baby spits the passy, that you should hold it in. Actually the reverse is true; if you pull gently on it, or push it downward, it triggers a reflex to suck harder. If there isn't a pacifier within reach, or you don't want to give them one just yet, you can just give them one of your fingers; typically pressing up with the pad of your fingertip at the roof of their mouth will trigger the sucking reflex. Eventually, you do have to wean them off the passy for psychological and orthodontic reasons, but until then it's baby's mute button.

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'On the back is a "danger" posture for babies; they can't move, can't roll over, so all they can do is cry for Mommy.' Doesn't this describe just about every posture for a 1 month old? –  Beofett Jan 31 '13 at 20:19
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Well yes, but on the back seems to instinctively trigger this reaction. On their side, even on their stomach, they are calmer (but you should never place a baby on their stomach and walk away, until they're at least old enough to lift their head). –  KeithS Jan 31 '13 at 20:32
    
Fair points, thanks! –  Beofett Jan 31 '13 at 20:35
    
This is great, thanks –  Michael Jan 31 '13 at 21:08
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I agree about the 5 S's, they were very helpful for us, but ultimately we found that our son had reflux problems as well as a problem with his breastfeeding mother having dairy.

Once he was put on reflux medicine and my wife cut dairy out of her diet he was a different baby.

At one month, it's probably too early to tell, but perhaps something worth keeping on the radar if it persists and comforting gestures don't work.

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I have found that babies are more sensitive to certain stimulus than adults. We discovered that our newborn screams when someone holds her with bad breath, someone is wearing strong perfume or scented lotion, if there is a scented candle burning in the area, etc. So continue to think about anything on you or in your environment the baby may be sensing.

Also, at 1 month old she would freak out in any position but held facing out so she could see. Walking around was also critical. Keep trying out different positions to find something unique to her.

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It could be gas. If you put her on her back on the bed and then "bicycle" her legs it can help her tummy feel better. Also 1 month olds cry a lot. Might be nothing!

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One other thing to try is swaddling. Both my kids preferred being tightly swaddled at that age; when they could move their legs and arms too much, it pretty much guaranteed cranky time. And you could also try some baby-wearing (use a Moby or Baby Bjorn or something similar, not a sling; there have been suffocation issues with some of those in the last few years) if the little one seems to prefer movement.

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We usually do swaddle, and it does help. Also, we have a Bjorn, but she's still getting used to it I guess. –  Michael Jan 31 '13 at 21:04
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Try different physical positions. If you're cradling her in your arms, try putting her up on your shoulder. Or vice versa.

Other things to try are: football hold -- her chest on your base of your palm and side of head on your fingers; football hold on back; lay her on her back on something firm/hard like dining room table or desk (be sure to turn her head) or on something super soft like a quarter folded comforter (do not lay face-down on super-soft as it's thought to be a cause of SIDS).

Obviously, steady her as needed. football on back pretty much requires a 2nd hand to steady. The head usually sets well between index and middle finger, with thumb and other 2 fingers around the shoulders... man I forgot how tiny 1mo old kiddos can be. Thanks (=

Try also giving her to dad to lay face down on his chest on the couch. Sometimes the mommy-boobies can be too squishy. My kids never liked it. I think it's all about the heartbeat.

If you think it's a hunger cue, put the tip of your li'l pinkie finger in her mouth (nail up). If she starts sucking hard, then it's time for chow. Personally, I never had the kicking with hunger, it was always kissy-mouth smacking with head turned to the side.

Let us know what happens.

edit: oh... uh... welcome!

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