How to Calm Your Fussy Baby – Part 3
11. Give her your finger: What?!? Yes, once you know that she is well fed, and that she is just looking for oral comfort, you can put your clean pinky finger in her mouth and let her suck on it, while rocking her. She will calm down and start to doze off fairly quickly! This way, you can avoid her comfort nursing at your breast endlessly. (Note: This is not to minimise nursing time; you must first provide nourishment to your baby at least 3 to 4 times, over at least a couple of hours, before you decide to let her suck at your finger.)
12. Dad To the rescue! Yes, dads can comfort their babies, as much as mom can. When the baby comes to you the Mom, she smells your breast and wants to latch and feed – Again! And Again!. But, once she has been well-fed, if she goes to Dad, he can use any of the above mentioned tips and tricks and the baby will likely fall asleep a bit sooner! Also, another great way to get the baby to sleep is for Dad to lie down and get her to sleep on her belly on his chest. Skin-to-skin, or with clothes on and swaddled, the preference is whatever works for you!
13. Family members take turns: This, I actually learnt from one of the families whom I had the pleasure of helping birth their daughter. This sweet family made a routine – 9 am to 11 am – Grandma 1, 11 am to 1 pm – Grandma 2, 1 pm to 3 pm – Aunt, 3 pm to 5 pm – Grandpa 1, 5 pm to 7 pm – Grandpa 2, 7 pm to 9 pm – Mom herself, 9 pm to 11 pm – Dad, AND then back to Grandma 1 by turn. Thus, while Mom would have to breastfeed the baby regardless of whose turn it was to hold the baby, she could also get rest, after feeding the baby, when it was not her turn! What a brilliant use of human resources – and everyone in the family gets some rest! We in India, are blessed with families eager to help postpartum, but sometimes, it turns into all becoming anxious with baby crying. On the baby’s side – well, she gets all the love and holding and caring that she needs! And, no – You will not “spoil” your baby by holding her every time she cries. She needs to know that you are there for her!
14. Hold her in “switch” or “The hold” position: This is an amazing trick. Watch this video. It works everytime! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2C8MkY7Co8) You can also do this with making the baby lie of stomach down on your forearm and holding her under the chin and gently moving your arm side to side.
15. Tie a traditional saree hammock: It used to be the only way to get a baby to rest in our homes. Now, we have replaced it with fancy cradles and bassinets. Tie a saree hammock and let the baby rest on her back cocooned in the close enclosure, while it also becomes a great way to rock her. Of course, as usual ensure that it is safely fastened and that there is no danger of suffocation from extra clothing around the baby.
16. Baby wearing: You have seen the babies of our hardy moms who work outdoors, whether it be selling trinkets on the roads or manning a food stall or picking tea leaves in a tea garden. They wear their babies, who seem to sleep peacefully even in the middle of din and noise! Yes, baby wearing works wonders. Learn the art of baby wearing and it becomes a life saver for you as it frees you, and calms the baby!
17. Colic Aid drops: Your paediatrician will prescribe this most likely if you complain that your baby is fussy. It seems to work, at least for some time.
18. Eliminate gassy foods from your diet: At least for the first month or so. Foods like cabbage, cauliflower, potato, onion, chick peas (Chole chana), kidney beans (rajma) are gassy and may cause your baby to feel gassy as well. You can start introducing one food from this list at a time, slowly around the 45 day mark and watch how your baby does. If one of the foods seems to bother her, eliminate that temporarily. Rarely milk in your diet may be the culprit. If so, eliminating it, can also decrease fussiness in your baby. Curd or buttermilk on the other hand, rarely bothers babies!
19. Calm and quiet: While most babies will sleep almost anywhere, amidst any noise, if your baby seems hyperstimulated, she may not be able to calm down if the TV is blaring. Go into a quiet room, rock her, feed her, rock her again, and she may fall asleep or at least quiet down.
20. Controlled room temperature: Again, this in India, is a big, big issue. We are in the middle of summer. But elders in the house say – No fan, baby will catch a cold. Mom is told to wear a scarf, and socks for good measure. Baby is put in clothes, mittens, socks, then swaddled with a saree cloth, then put in one of the ubiquitous soft carriers. No fan, No AC. Mom is cranky. Baby is crankier and when she is taken out of all the clothes, her back and hair are wet from sweat! No, we do not need to bake Mom and Baby. A temperature controlled room (23 – 25 degrees) with AC on in summer, or with a fan on in less hot times, makes baby more comfortable and less cranky. Rule of thumb – If you are hot, dress your baby in 1 layer of cotton clothes, plus her swaddling cloth. If you are cold, dress her in one extra layer of clothes, plus her swaddling cloth. Plenty. This will decrease a bunch of her discomfort and she will likely fall asleep with less fuss!
21. Importance of knowledge about 1st 72 hours, and then growth spurts, and increased breastfeeding needs: Knowing that your baby who was sleeping like an angel in the hospital or birth center, can cry a lot once you go home is so important. Especially Day 2 and Day 3 – the nights will seem long and unending. Suddenly, you baby has realised that she has to fend for herself in an unknown environment. All she wants is to be near you for comfort. Secondly, nature got it right – the more she sucks in the first 72 hours, the more you will produce milk for the rest of your breastfeeding journey. Both of these factors, make for a very clingy, crying, always latched to the breast, fussy baby. Knowing that this will pass, and that she will sleep by herself, for short periods of time, once the 72 hour mark is crossed, can save your sanity. It also helps you to stay on course with your breastfeeding goals, and not introduce formula or other alternatives thinking that you have low milk supply. Same goes for growth spurts around Day 7, Day 10, and Day 21. Your baby’s number of feeds will go up around those times, but if you let her feed unpressured, not only will she not become cranky, but also your supply will go up beautifully to meet her needs within 24 hours!
I hope that at least some of these tips and tricks will help you in your journey as a new Mom! Welcome to this sometimes very challenging, yet very fulfilling journey that we call Motherhood!
Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this helpful, or if you have a tip or trick that I have missed – It will be useful to some mother, some where as she lovingly cares for her newborn!
Yours in Love
Dr. Vijaya Krishnan