When we are first introduced to parenthood, we are often under the understanding that as long as our baby has a fresh diaper, full tummy, and a warm environment that they will sleep like a … well.. baby. However, only a few days into parenting, you will find that this is hardly the case. Whoever came up with the saying ‘sleep like a baby’ clearly never had a baby. When you are up at 2 am with a baby that seems like it just won’t sleep, consider these reasons why your baby may not be asleep.
There are a few obvious basics that seem obvious but sometimes are not when it is early morning, and you are exhausted. Before trying anything else, ensure that your baby has a clean diaper, warm jammies, and has been fed recently. Infants typically eat every two hours however, if they are cluster feeding or are not getting enough to eat, they will eat much more often than that. If all of these three basics are in place and your baby will not nurse or take a bottle, then consider these other options of why your baby might be crying.
I have a very personal experience with this because my baby was so colicy. She was always gassy and seemed never to get enough to eat. But every time I took her to see the pediatrician, she did a full overload and told me there was nothing wrong with her. The listened to her intestines and did a full workup, and all they could find was a little acid reflux. So she sent us home with our screaming baby to live another day. Somewhere around four months, it stopped.
One day we woke up and realized she had slept all through the night, and the house was mysteriously quiet. We ran to her room because surely she was dead. She was just fine, sleeping away. When our second came along, the experience was completely 180 different. She rarely cried and slept through the night, basically from the first day. This is how we knew our first was suffering from colic.
Some babies are more sensitive than others to noise and activity. More sensitive babies will get overstimulated, which can cause crying. Along with that, babies who don’t want to ‘miss the party’ per se will be fussier. This is because they are tired, but they don’t want to miss anything that could happen while they sleep. This is common in babies who are overstimulated. If you have an overstimulated child, the best option is to get the baby away from the stimulation and to a quiet space. The crying may continue as your baby’s only real way of releasing extra energy.
Things to Watch For
If your baby is having a fussy period, be aware of these few things that could signal another problem. The most obvious is breathing problems. If you notice your child is breathing from there stomach rather than there lungs, you may have a problem. Also, watch for grey lips or fingers. This can show a lack of oxygen. Also, whenever your child is having a super fussy period, do a quick once over your baby. Just to ensure that there isn’t a sock pinching her toe or an obvious injury. Also, if you are breastfeeding, start a food journal.
A food journal can help you pinpoint certain foods that can hurt your baby’s tummy. Spicy foods are not typically good for breastfeeding mothers because it can cause butt rash. Along with that, dairy and caffeine can upset your baby’s tummy and keep baby awake. This is because babies are not acclimated to caffeine use, so even just a small amount can give them stimulation.
What to Do
Get your pediatrician involved. Take your baby to a check-up and explain what is going on. Discuss this with your pediatrician and see if there is anything else major going on. Your pediatrician can listen to your child’s tummy and ensure that there isn’t an intestinal problem. If you get the all-clear from your pediatrician, then your next option is to go home and tough it out.
There are few options for colic as far as over the counter medications. Gripe water has proven to be helpful. If you suspect teething as part of the culprit, there are many different teething medications from Tylenol to teething toys.
If you are caring for a fussy baby, be aware of your own emotions. As a new parent, you want to meet every single need, but if you start to feel frustrated, take a break. If you have help from another adult, don’t be scared to pass crying baby off for a ten or 15-minute break. Go to the bathroom, do your makeup, or get a drink. Just take a small break. If you don’t have help, then put baby somewhere safe like the crib. This can give you a second to walk away and take a breath. Although you should never ignore a baby’s cry, if every need is met and you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break before you lose your sanity.
There have been some holding techniques that have also proven to help crying babies. Laying your baby on her tummy with arms tucked underneath is one way that has been shown to help baby relax. Also, mimicking the womb has proven very helpful. By making the room quiet, with womb sound, music playing can help. Also, swaddling and pacifiers can help. Although pacifier use is becoming more unpopular, sometimes it is healthier for your baby to have a pacifier and not be crying versus no pacifier and cry excessively.
When dealing with an excessively fussy baby, it is important to remember that it is short term. Although four or five months feel overwhelming and like forever, it will eventually end.