Thursday, June 16, 2016

How to Calm a Fussy Baby When Boobs Aren't the Answer

     Today marks 10 weeks since my son's birth. 10 weeks of uninterrupted one-on-one time with my sweet baby boy. I am so grateful to have been given this time with him, to get to know him, and to watch him grow. I have a few more weeks until I go back to work, and although nothing can replace time with my family, I think I'm ready to go back. I don't want to leave my son, but I am fortunate in that I love what I do, so if I have to be away from him, I'm glad it's to help people. 
     Little Monster will be staying home with his daddy, since J has the summer off from school. It makes me happy that my son won't have to go to daycare, but it terrifies me that my husband will be in charge. My husband is an amazing father, and I'm glad my kids will get extra daddy bonding time this summer, however my concern is based more in the knowledge that my husband's first response to any signs of discomfort from Monster leads him to unceremoniously dropping little Monster into my lap with the words, "he's hungry".  Although I've explained to my darling J several times that just because Monster fusses, doesn't automatically mean I need to feed him, I do understand J's sense of impending doom when our son does get fussy. After all, J sometimes feels helpless when Monster's hungry because, as he puts it's, "I'm not the one with the boobs".  So to help J in those moments when our son is so fussy he can't think straight and I'm not around, I've made a list of things he can try before force-feeding our son a bottle, when he may only be asking to be burped. 

Fussy Baby?  Have You Tried?
  • Walking around? There are many times in which little Monster simply wants to be held while we walk around the house.  Doing so gives him new things to look at, and provides a distraction while Daddy gets the bottle ready or Mommy finds a comfy place to sit to nurse. 
  • Bouncing/burping baby?  Most of Monster's fussiness comes from gas, so gently bouncing him or burping him helps alleviate the gas.
  • Walking the stairs? This goes along with bouncing/burping.  Going up and down the stairs is an easy way to bounce him, and it gives me a slight workout.  So, if you have stairs in your house, give it a try.
  • Gripe water/Mylicon drops?  Again: alleviate the gas, ease the fussing.
  • Pacifier?  This one rarely works for us, but every now and then I can get my son to take the pacifier, but Monkey wouldn't go anywhere without one.  If you're for it, use it.
  • Outside time?  It never fails, as soon as J steps outside with Monster, he quiets down. There's just so much to look at outside that he forgets he was fussy.  
  • Play mat?  Little Monster has this play mat, and he loves it, but as with most of these tricks, it's hit or miss on if it'll calm him when he's fussy.  Still, it's worth a try.  
  • Diaper change?  This is one that almost always works for us.  If we lay Monster down on his changing table, immediate calm ensues.  I don't know if he likes the vantage point to observe his surroundings better, or what, but I don't question it.  
  • Bath time?  One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a new Mommy was when someone told me, "If they're crabby, put them in water".  This works for my 7-year-old Monkey as well as my newborn.
  • Tummy time?  Although this typically causes the fussiness to start, not end, every now and then it works to calm my son down for a bit.  Again I think it's the new vantage point. 
  • Swaddling?  Up to a certain age, this is a classic remedy for a fussy baby.  J argued with me that Monster hated to be confined, but then he got desperate.  Can I also just add that Swaddle Me's are the best thing ever?!
  • Swing?  My sister is a life-saver; she lent us her baby swing, and it works wonders on little Monster when he's fussy.  Don't have an electric swing? Just cradle your LO and gently swing him.
  • Shushing? Babies like white noise, so the "sh" sound is actually really soothing to them.  The trick is to make sure they are able to hear you over their own cries. 
  • Running water?  Again with the white noise theory.  If I'm in the shower, J will sometimes bring Monster in if he's fussy, and a combination of the running water, shushing, and gentle bouncing will help calm him.  As long as he doesn't hear me, that is.
  • Funny faces? Babies love studying faces, so I often sacrifice my dignity in the noble cause of calming my son.  He loves when I blow raspberries or stick my tongue out.  It makes him giggle.
  • Rocking?  A time-honored tradition on soothing babies, rocking never gets old.  Whether you have a rocking chair, a glider, or just your arms, rocking can calm a grumpy infant.
  • Singing?  This is one that I don't think of all the time, but it works.  Much to the distaste of everyone else in my house, Monster loves when I sing. 
  • Toys/pictures/mirror?  Like looking at faces, babies love studying toys and mirrors.  They also find simple designs interesting.  I colored a few sheets of card stock with black and white stripes, stars, and swirls, and he'll study them for about 5-10 minutes each. 
  • Wearing baby?  We recently bought a Tula, and that was the best money ever spent.  J loves to wear Monster when we go out to the library or other places.  Little Monster likes to be close to his Daddy, and gets the gently rocking motion as Daddy walks around without J having to sacrifice the use of his arms.
  • Skin-to-skin? Stripping baby down to his diaper and laying him on your chest is not only soothing to baby, but it strengthens the bond between you and baby.  Plus, who needs an excuse for extra snuggles?
  • Baby massage? I've used this method when Monster's been gassy, but I'll admit it's hit or miss.  I found the inspiration on Pinterest here.  There are other types of baby massage like these.  

     I hanged (hung?) this list in our living room as a reminder for myself as well.  After all, there are times when little Monster gets fussy after a long day, and I'm tired, and I feel like I've tried everything, but one look at this list reminds me that I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. So I thought I'd share.  Now, keep in mind that these are things that work for our family. They may not all apply to your little one, but hopefully it'll help get your ideas flowing when the baby's crying and you feel like you're all out of options. If you'd like to print the list for your own use, click here

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