How to Calm a Fussy Baby

Father comforting his fussy baby

Babies cry. You know this, we know this, everyone knows this. It comes with the territory, right? Still, having that knowledge at your disposal doesn’t mean that you’ll feel prepared the first time it happens … or even after countless nights of crying. 

A fussy mood isn’t easy on the parent or the baby! If you need a little extra support when your bundle of joy feels not-so-joyful, here are some tips to help you both through the fussy baby days (and nights!).

First Things First: Is it Colic?

Crying and fussiness is a normal, natural part of an infant’s life. Your little one is learning how to adjust to the outside world, and they don’t have communication skills yet to tell you when they feel stressed, uncomfortable, hungry or sleepy. 

But while there is normal crying, there’s also not-so-normal crying. If your baby is crying for extended periods of time and nothing seems to soothe them, it may be a sign of colic. 

Colic is characterized by intense, prolonged crying in an otherwise healthy baby, usually starting around two weeks of age and lasting for several months. The good news is that colic usually resolves itself as your baby gets older and their nervous system develops. However, if you suspect your baby may have colic, it's important to consult with your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis and guidance on managing colic symptoms.

Why Is My Baby so Fussy?

Fussy baby lying on their back in bedFussy baby lying on their back in bed

Sleep, eat, repeat – babies sure do live the good life. So, what’s all the fuss about?

While we adults might have trouble imagining stress on a day filled with slumber, snacks and snuggles, it’s important to remember what we mentioned above: your baby’s just learning how to adjust to the outside world, and they don’t really have communication skills. If you were hungry, unable to get yourself a snack and unable to ask anyone to get one for you, you’d be fussy too! (Or, rather, hangry.)

Babies cry for various reasons, and understanding these reasons can help you better soothe your little one. Some common causes of fussiness include:

  • Hunger
  • Discomfort (from a dirty diaper, tight clothing, etc.) 
  • Tiredness
  • Overstimulation
  • Needing physical closeness or comfort

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6 Tips: How to Calm a Fussy Baby

Now let's get to the heart of the matter – how to calm your fussy baby. Here are six tips that every parent should know:

1. Swaddle Your Baby

The outside world is a tough place! Swaddling mimics the feeling of being in the womb and can provide a sense of security and comfort for your baby. 

Use a lightweight, breathable blanket and wrap it snugly around your baby, ensuring their hips and legs can move freely. (Pro tip: organic cotton is one of the softest and most breathable materials out there!)

Mother snuggling with her swaddled babyMother snuggling with her swaddled baby

2. Create a Soothing Environment

There’s a lot going on outside the womb – no wonder babies are sensitive! If your baby is fussy they might just be overstimulated. 

Try to create a serene, peaceful atmosphere to calm them. Dim the lights, play soft music or white noise, and minimize external stimuli. Some babies find gentle rhythmic movements, such as rocking, swaying or even riding in the car soothing as well. Get more tips on how to set up the nursery to promote sleep.

3. Encourage Self-soothing  

A big part of surviving the fussy baby days is helping your little one learn how to self-soothe. One way is by offering them something non-nutritive to suck on when they’re feeling upset. Sucking on their thumb, a pacifier or even one of your own fingers can be a great method to help them de-stress and self-soothe. Just remember – no objects should be placed in the crib with Baby.

4. Try Gentle Massage

Babies aren’t so different from us. They’re cranky when they’re hungry, tight pants make them uncomfortable and sometimes they need a little extra attention – like a gentle massage. 

Just like with adults, massage can work wonders in soothing a fussy baby. Apply light pressure to your baby's back, tummy and limbs to help relax their muscles and promote a sense of calm.

Parent giving Baby a gentle massageParent giving Baby a gentle massage

5. Use White Noise or Shushing Sounds

Rain on a tin roof, ocean waves, crickets chirping in summertime – just imagining these sounds can put us at ease.

Likewise, noise machines or apps that produce calming sounds can be incredibly effective in soothing a fussy baby. Steady hums and shushing sounds mimic the environment your baby was accustomed to in the womb and can help lull them to sleep.

6. Practice Skin-to-skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact after birth has numerous benefits for both babies and parents. But did you know that it can be a great way to soothe your little one in the months after they arrive, too.

Holding your baby against your bare chest can help to:

  • Regulate their body temperature, heart rate and breathing 
  • Promote bonding
  • Offer a sense of security

Beyond the benefits for Baby, it gives parents time to relax, meditate, breathe and just be with your baby. 

Set Up Baby for Better Sleep

Smiling baby lying on a Naturepedic organic mattressSmiling baby lying on a Naturepedic organic mattress

Babies need sleep so that their bodies and brains can grow and develop. They’ve got a lot of growing to do in a short period of time – so no wonder they sleep so much! If you’ve got a fussy baby, one of the most common explanations is a lack of the quality, restorative sleep they need. 

Establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a soothing sleep environment can help you set your little one up for their best sleep. The right sleep environment starts with a safer, healthier mattress – it’s the object they interact with most in the early days of their life, after all! Not to mention that during this time they are extra sensitive to toxins in their environment, allergens, improper support and more, so do your due diligence when crib mattress shopping.

Not sure where to start? Naturepedic can help! Check out our Organic Breathable Baby Crib Mattress – it’s the only certified organic, breathable and waterproof crib mattress on the market.

Take Care of Yourself, Too

We feel for you – caring for a fussy baby can be physically and emotionally draining. Remember to take breaks when you can, ask for support from family and friends and try to get enough rest and nourishment yourself. By taking care of your own well-being, you'll be better equipped to provide the love and care your baby needs.

Be sure to check out these tips for tired parents if you need a little extra help. You got this!

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