My first born child, who is now 5, was a fairly easy baby. She cried when she was hungry, but she generally had an easy-going temperament. I naively thought parenting was fairly easy. I might have even said a time or two that I thought I was naturally good at parenting.
Maybe that is why, when my son was born, I was so shocked to discover how completely different he was from his sister. The first night in the hospital, after a 24-hour labor, he cried and didn’t really stop the whole night. I picked him up, nursed him, got him back to sleep and laid him down. The second he hit the bed, he would be wide awake and crying again. I doubt I had more than 1 hour cumulative sleep that night.
My son is what I call a high needs baby. I found an article on Dr. Sears website on 12 features of a high needs baby, and he fits the criteria! He is intense, demanding, draining, super sensitive, he eats frequently, he awakens frequently, and he hates to be put down, preferring that I hold him constantly. Oh, and he is definitely not a self-soother. While I am totally in love with my son, and we have lots of great times together, I have often wondered how I have survived these past 7 months.
The good news is that he is getting a little bit easier with each milestone he passes. I have also read that all babies eventually grow up and move out, so I figure this can’t possibly last longer than 18 years.
I know there are other parents out there, like me, who have high needs or really fussy babies, and may be looking for ways to help soothe their little ones. If you are such a parent, first, let me give you a big virtual hug. I know how hard it is. I know how tired you are. I know how impossible this situation seems. You want to enjoy your baby, but it is so hard. But, I want you to know that this phase will not last forever! It will get easier! And in the mean time, here is a list of tips to soothe a fussy baby that have helped with my son.
How to Soothe a Fussy Baby
Wear all the Babies
The single most helpful thing I have done to soothe a fussy baby is to wear him in a baby carrier. Even at 7 months, my son spends between 2 – 5 hours a day in my Beco Gemini. If he is in the carrier, he is usually content. It is also one of the few ways I can get him to sleep (he does not like to be rocked). I wear him around the house while watching TV or play Clash of clans on my phone, to get him to sleep. I wear him so I can do dishes and laundry. I wear him at the grocery store, so I am not that mom with the screaming baby (you’re probably not surprised to learn that he hates his car seat).
The baby carrier has been invaluable to me. Of all the things that I bought for my baby, this is the one thing that I couldn’t live without.
Turn on the Blow Dryer
I have heard this is great for colicky babies, and it works wonderfully when my son is on 30 minutes of constant wailing, and I am about to lose it. I turn on the blow dryer (not facing him, obviously), and let the white noise do its magic.
Here is a video from a couple months ago. This was after a particularly wretched night of no sleep and a whole lot of crying. I had to get to work, so I set him in the bouncer while I blew my hair dry, and was amazed to hear him stop crying. So amazed that I had to record it:
A Sleep Machine for Sleeping
Many high needs babies are very sensitive to noise, and I learned that when I kept my home impossibly quiet, the smallest sound would wake him up. I decided to get a sleep machine to play the sound of the ocean while he slept, and discovered that he slept longer with the white noise, which prevented him from hearing his sister playing in her room, or me making lunch in the kitchen.
Another favorite among moms of colicky babies, the vacuum seems to be a God-send for many parents. I had a robovac from before I had my son. If I had a pressing deadline, or really needed to study, I could turn on my vacuum, have it clean my house, and my little boy would set contently on the ground, watching the vacuum go. Of course, regular vacuums work wonders, as well. It is the noise that distracts them from being cranky!
I know some babies hate bath time, but my son loved the water from the day he was born. I love this baby bath that sets directly in a big bath, while still allowing the baby to feel the warm water. We took lots of baths! Some for cleanliness, but many more for something to calm him down and make him happy.
These are my tips to soothe a fussy baby. If you have any other ideas that have helped you or your baby, please share them in the comments below!