Babies generally cry for one of these five reasons, and if you tried them all, sometimes babies just have to cry it out and be fussy. (If you think its more than just fussiness, they could be sick, just keep an eye out for other signs that might indicate this, use your motherly instinct)!
Why do babies cry? Here are the most common reasons babies cry, and how you should try to soothe them.
1 Babies are gassy, burp your babies! We don’t have a colicky baby, so I can’t advise on that, but we do have a baby that sometimes, even an hour after feeding, has a burp way down in his belly. He will fuss and fuss until we get it out. This is actually the first thing I try, I burp Theodore (patting his back on the left side, apparently that is where a baby’s stomach is) until I hear a “BURP!!!!” and if I don’t, I move onto number two!
2 Babies want to be held, hold your babies! I love to hug and smell Theo. I don’t care how weird that sounds, I love him so much and they only stay this little for so long, and occasionally this works. When it does, it is the best feeling in the world, you are the one that your baby loves and this affirms that. Sometimes babies just want to be snuggled and loved, so try to hold them close to you, even try some skin-to-skin.
3 Babies are too hot or too cold, dress your babies right! When you first take your baby home you have to learn about their natural body temperature. Theo runs hot, we dressed him a footie pajama and swaddle the first night home from the hospital, because we followed the rule that the hospital gave us. “Dress your baby in one more layer than what you are wearing. ” Well we did and he was so sweaty and fussy the whole night! We quickly learned that rule did not apply to us, we had to drop the temperature for the whole house down to 71 degrees if we dressed him like that overnight. When we did that, he immediately stopped fussing. Pay attention to your baby, if they are fussy they could be too hot or too cold, sometimes taking their temperature can help to decide that as well if you are unsure. If their temperature is at 97 degrees, add a layer, if their temperature is at 98 degrees they are dressed appropriately, and if they are at 99 degrees, take off a layer. The NICU nurses helped me learn this 🙂
4 Babies are bored, play with your babies! There are only so many things I can think of every day to entertain Theo, I try to make sure he is stimulated but motherhood definitely tests how creative I am. I try to switch it up, try different activities, sing, dance, be silly and goofy. Honestly it is quite fun to try different things each day, I learn more about Theo and what he likes. Its a fun game to play, I would love to hear what works for you little ones! Theo likes to dance and sing together in the kitchen to country music and he likes his black and white books and cards, and to play on his play mat. And if there is a ceiling fan in the room, well that is the most important thing to him, he is mesmerized!
5 Babies are hungry or overfed, feed your babies (in moderation)! Yes, you are a mom that has your schedule, but don’t forget, sometimes there are growth spurts and they may want to eat more often than you have been feeding them! Or sometimes you just fed them too much. Try to see if they take a bottle, don’t try too hard, cause I know Theo takes it regardless, even if he is full. I have had to learn what a real suck is and what is not. If they don’t take the bottle and none of the other soothing methods worked they might just be too full. Do what you can to make them more comfortable. I sit Theo upright against me so he can watch TV just in the nook of my arm, and this helps and it might help your overfull little one too.
Why do I believe that you should try to soothe your baby with food as a last resort? If you immediately give your baby a bottle every time they cry, they will start to grow an association with crying and a bottle. To me, I would rather them to think of me and find comfort in me, I would rather my baby know that I am there for them, that I am one who can help. As a disclaimer, I haven’t done professional research on this, but I have talked to my parents and my doctor, and they also agree here. Build your bond with your baby in the early years and show them love! If you also choose food as a last resort, you are less likely to overfeed your baby.
I hope that this helps y’all figure out why your baby is fussy. If you have more questions about this or would like to hear personal stories, please reach out to me. I am happy to talk more and share more about my time with Theo so you can be prepared for when your baby comes home.