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Newborn and Infant Care

Fussy baby

09/09/2003

Question:

My daughter is 11 weeks old and is constantly fussy when she is awake. She seems to only smile/coo when she is on the changing table or when I am holding her (and even then sometimes she whines). She rarely naps because I cannot put her down without her starting to cry. Am I doing something wrong? Why is my child so fussy?

Answer:

First of all you are not doing anything wrong. There are many reasons why a baby is fussy. If you have not discussed this with your pediatrician that would be my first advice. Make an appointment and let them know of your concerns. If they can assure you there is nothing physically wrong with your baby then there are other things you can try to limit the periods of fussiness for the baby. 1. Does your baby enjoy bath time? If she does this is one way to relax her. If you are currently bathing her at nighttime add a morning bath (just with water, they don`t need much soap on their skin) to let her relax in something that she enjoys. 2. Does she have toys that she can look at when she is lying in her crib or sitting in the swing? If you do not have a swing many babies respond nicely to them. They love the constant swaying. Attaching bright red and black mobiles or toys in front (about 10 to 15 inches) of her so that they can catch her attention may satisfy her for a period of time. 3. Are you breastfeeding? If so what is your diet like? If you notice that you eat a particular meal and she is extremely fussy shortly after that meal maybe you should cut out that particular food for a period of time and see if it helps. If she has a lot of gas that could be upsetting her stomach and making her fussy. If you are formula feeding maybe the formula you have her on is not setting well on her stomach. There are early protein allergies that can cause a baby to be fussy. Discuss this with you pediatrician before making any changes but maybe a soy formula will settle easier on her stomach. 4. How do you put her to bed? Establishing a routine will help even at this early stage. If you lay her down knowing she is fed, dry, and not in any distress and she cries, she may fuss for just a little while then go to sleep. If you lay her down fed, dry, and not distressed, and she cries and you rush in and pick her up right away she is learning that all she has to do is whimper and mom will come running. It does not hurt a baby to cry for a little while, especially if it is a whimper cry and not a cry that makes you feel she is in pain. Try and see if she will fall asleep even if she fusses a little for 5 or 10 minutes. 5. Have you ever played music for her? There are lots of tapes and CD`s available that babies love to listen to. 6. Baby massage tapes are available that teach parents how to give their baby a massage. They are wonderful and provide a nice time for parents and babies to spend some enjoyable time together. Most babies after a massage will fall asleep because they are so relaxed. I hope some of this helps. Mom`s always want to blame themselves for their children and their discomfort but you are not doing anything wrong. Take her to the pediatrician then try some of these things. Hopefully you will find something that she responds to.

Valerie Moniaci, MSN, RN

Visiting Instructor of Clinical Nursing

College of Nursing

University of Cincinnati

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati