Common Causes of Fussiness
Many parents of young babies will find themselves perplexed by their baby’s fussiness. Newborns and infants often seem to cry, only calming down briefly after being picked up or fed. It’s important to understand the various common causes of fussiness in infants and young babies, so that you can work to address the root of the issue.
Some of the common causes of fussiness in infants and young babies include:
- Gas or colic
- Pain or discomfort
Hunger is one of the most common causes of fussiness in babies. Young infants can be very vocal when they are hungry and will often cry, fuss or even become angry when they need to be fed. Newborns should feed at least every 2-3 hours, nursing or bottle-feeding, depending on their particular needs. A well-fed baby is less likely to become fussy and may occasionally drift off to sleep in the middle of a feed.
Different feeds have different components that can help keep a baby full for longer periods of time, so it’s always a good idea to discuss any changes with your child’s doctor or midwife before making the switch.
An infant who still seems hungry after a regular feeding schedule might be exhibiting signs of growth spurts and may need more frequent feedings for a few days. During times like these, offering your baby regular snacks in addition to regular meals might help keep them from becoming extra fussy from hunger pangs.
New parents may often worry that their baby’s fussiness is a sign of a more serious underlying condition when it could simply be due to overstimulation from the environment. Overstimulating your baby can cause them to become overwhelmed, making it difficult for them to calm down or focus on any single activity. It could lead to crying, irritation or even aggressive behavior in some cases; however, the good news is that this is usually nothing serious and can be easily remedied by reducing the amount of stimulation.
The main source of stimulation for your baby will likely be their toy or activity selection – too many toys can cause confusion and overwhelm your baby’s senses. Many babies can become overstimulated at larger family gatherings such as birthday parties – if possible, try to create a quieter space with fewer people where they can relax if they become overwhelmed.
In addition, keep an eye out for subtle signs such as yawning, rubbing eyes or fussing; these are all indicators that your little one needs some more peace and quiet! Finally, using white noise or calming music in the background may help create an atmosphere of relaxation and make it easier for your child to settle down after experiencing too much stimulation.
Fatigue is a common cause of fussiness in babies due to their rapidly growing and developing bodies. As babies start to explore the world, they will tire themselves out quickly. Additionally, a baby’s regular sleeping routine may consist of both naps and night time sleep for up to 12 hours a day. If their naps become disrupted or if nighttime sleep is disturbed, this can lead to increased crankiness and fussiness.
Some causes of fatigue can include:
- Too much stimulation
- Overstimulating activities such as visiting relatives, sensory play, bright rooms with strong smells or strong lighting
- Too little sleep each day
- Physical exertion such as playing or rolling during tummy time too often with no breaks
- Too much excitement while they are awake – this can be exciting events such as birthdays/holidays which encourages them to stay awake.
- Illnesses such as colds/coughs which disrupts sleeping patterns and causes discomfort for the baby
- Growth spurts – when the baby grows rapidly it causes increased energy expenditure
- Jet lag from long trips – this causes tiredness and maladjustment from change in daily routines
Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby
Having a fussy baby can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. It can be difficult to know what to do when your baby is crying and nothing seems to work to make them feel better. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to soothe a fussy baby and help them to feel more content. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to soothe a fussy baby:
Swaddling is one of the oldest and most effective ways of soothing a fussy baby. This involves tightly wrapping your baby in a soft and secure blanket or cloth. Swaddling can help them feel safe and secure, while keeping their overly active arms and legs from startling them in the night. It can help them relax, which often results in better sleep for both you and your baby. If done correctly, swaddling can also help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
When swaddling, wrap babies so that they’re snugly but not too tight – leave enough room for hip movement as it helps to prevent hip dysplasia. Keep the blanket flat and secure your baby’s hands down by her sides rather than across her chest where she could inadvertently rub eyes or face causing discomfort. Lastly, make sure the fabric is lightweight to reduce excess heat build-up next to skin – it is recommended that babies are dressed with one more layer than an adult would wear for comfort in the same setting or temperature.
Rocking and swaying your fussy baby is one of the oldest, gentlest and most reliable ways to calm them. Moving your baby in your arms, in a rocking chair or using a baby-carrier are examples of rhythmic motions and can help reduce discomfort. Rocking allows babies to feel secure as they may remember feeling similar sensations in the womb during their mother’s movement and activities.
Another benefit to this calming technique is that it can help lull your little one into a deep sleep if they are struggling to stay asleep for long periods at night or between naps during the day. Sleepy babies tend to be less fussy, so helping them drift off peacefully can help banish fussiness from their routine altogether.
When rocking with your baby try incorporating shh-ing sounds or other rhythms that both you and your baby find calming until eventually, you will find a rhythm that both of you enjoy which you can use every time as an indicator for bedtime or when she needs some comfort. You might also:
- Switch up how you rock them
- Vary how frequently or for how long
if your little one needs a change in stimulus when she begins to get agitated again.
One of the most effective and calming techniques to ease a baby’s fussiness is skin-to-skin contact. Also known as kangaroo care, this method involves placing a baby in direct physical contact with an adult, typically against their bare chest. A baby’s senses are highly developed and sensitive, making skin contact a powerful source of security and comfort.
Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact can significantly decrease crying, regulate a baby’s body temperature and heart rate, stabilize breathing patterns, increase calmness and improve parent satisfaction with caregiving practices. The duration of skin-to-skin contact matters: the more time spent engaged in it the better it works. Additionally, time spent engaging in this activity increases oxytocin levels in both mother and child providing a sense of connection between the two.
This type of touch also helps infants to learn how to self regulate activities such as sleeping, eating and eliminating wastes safely on their own schedule benefiting them into adulthood. Skin-to-skin contact can be practiced anywhere; home or hospital settings are both suitable locations depending on the circumstances surrounding your infant’s fussiness. However you choose to use it – nursing or cuddling – make sure you are both comfortable before starting your session!
If your baby is always fussy, it’s important to consider other possible causes aside from the common ones like hunger, fatigue, teething, etc. There could be medical issues, environmental factors, or behavioral issues that could lead to a fussy baby. It is important to evaluate all these factors in order to make sure that you can provide your baby with the best care possible.
Let’s take a look at some of these other considerations:
Gas is a common cause of fussiness in babies. While a baby’s digestive system is immature, it’s still capable of producing gas through swallowing air during feeding or crying, and contributing to the digestive process by fermenting undigested formula or breast milk. The air can get caught in the intestines and cause your baby uncomfortable abdominal pain, bloating and passing of gas.
There are several ways that you can help reduce your little one’s fussiness caused by gas. Preventing your baby from swallowing excess air can be helpful, and there are several methods you can use to do this:
- Feeding from different positions (such as burping your baby upright after each feeding) may help reduce excess muscle tension and prevent uncomfortable bubbles from forming in the stomach.
- Offering slow feedings may also work; instead of trying to blow through a bottle with all the milk quickly, let the milk flow slowly so that your baby doesn’t have to gulp or suck too hard.
- You might find it helpful to switch between breasts/bottles if using formula or having an artificial nipple so that natural breaks occur while feeding and if you sense that your baby has had enough milk before they become distressed turn them off quickly as this will stop them feeling overly full which may lead to discomfort later on once their digestion starts working its way through their meal.
Some strategies for easing belly discomforts include:
- Walking with your infant
- Gently patting their back while they are lying down on their back or tummy (depending on what they prefer)
- Swaddling if they showed signs of comfort when swaddled previously
- Filling a warm bottle with some water and rolling it onto their belly – as long as it is done gently these techniques have been known to work wonders for relieving gassiness in babies.
Finally there are formulas that contain probiotics for infants which you could look into if you feel like everything else has been uncomfortably making no difference at all.
Teething can cause discomfort for your baby and is typically seen as one of the most common causes for fussiness in infants. During the teething period, the gums are swollen due to fluids in the gum tissue increasing and the tooth pushing its way through to the surface of the gum. This makes it difficult for babies to get relief when it comes to their tender, swollen gums. Teething babies will want to chew or suck on objects or their hands and fingers, which can be quite painful as well.
Common signs of teething include:
- Excessive saliva production
- Finger sucking and/or chewing on fingers or objects
- Fluctuating body temperature
- Decreased appetite
- Swollen and inflamed gums
- Redness around mouth or cheeks
- Sleep disturbances
- More pronounced crankiness
If your baby is exhibiting any of these symptoms along with other known causes of fussiness such as gas pains or colic then it could very well be teething that is causing your baby’s discomfort.
Taking proactive steps to alleviate teething pain including:
- Giving cold foods such as yogurt and ripe fruits as snacks if age appropriate
- Providing safe objects for them to chew on such as chilled rubber toys
- Using a clean finger or oral device specifically designed for relieving tender gums
- Lightly massaging near gum line with infant appropriate dental gel
- Nursing more frequently
- Ensuring adequate hydration by providing plenty liquids throughout day
- Monitoring temperature during teething episodes
- Administering over-the-counter medications according pediatrician’s advice (for infants 6 months old or older)
- Speaking regularly with a pediatrician about best approaches for addressing discomfort.
When it comes to coffee brewing and roasting, another important consideration is reflux. Reflux is the build-up of carbon dioxide that is released during the roasting process. If a roast contains too much reflux, it can lead to bitter coffee with no crema and a sour aftertaste. To avoid unpleasant flavor characteristics, try to find lighter beans with as little reflux as possible, or use green beans for DIY roast batches.
Pay attention to packaging information about the roasts that you purchase. Sometimes this information will tell you how much reflux the beans possess so you can make an informed decision before you buy.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Every baby is different, and parents are sure to experience times where their baby is more fussy than usual. It is important to know when normal fussy behavior takes a turn for the worse and when to seek medical attention for your little one.
In this section, we’ll cover the signs and symptoms to look out for and when it’s time to consult with a medical professional.
Babies aren’t always happy, but when they start crying continually and the cries sound different than usual, this can be a sign of something more serious. Abnormal crying is sometimes referred to as “Colic”, however there are several other illnesses that could be the cause of your baby’s distress.
If your baby is repeatedly crying for more than three hours every day for more than three consecutive days, this could indicate a medical problem and you should seek medical attention immediately. Abnormally excessive crying can also indicate an infection or injury, and if you notice any changes in your baby’s physical activity along with their persistent cries it’s best to visit a doctor right away.
There are many factors that can lead to a baby’s discomfort and distress including:
- uncommon reactions to vaccinations;
- food allergies;
- viral or bacterial infections;
- digestive issues such as reflux;
- heart conditions like cysts or palpitations;
- urinary tract infections (UTIs);
- pinched nerves in joints such as hips;
- physical discomfort caused by anything from too much gas to teeth grinding;
- potential sleep issues such as night terrors or nightmares.
A pediatrician will be able to diagnose any underlying conditions after examining your child and evaluating symptoms based on their age and medical history.
It is important to not just rely on professional diagnosis when dealing with an unhappy baby – there may already be practical solutions available that will provide relief from the fussiness. Babies need lots of love, attention and continual reassurance so it is important provide them with these fundamental needs which in turn should reduce stress levels and provide relief from persistent fussy behavior that lasts longer than anticipated. Remember comfort can also come from Mommy’s arms, rocking chair – babies feel safe in their parent’s arms!
If your baby is exhibiting signs of a fever, this can be a cause for concern. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), any time your baby is under three months old and has an axillary temperature of 100.4°F or higher, it is important to contact their doctor or call 911 immediately. Baby’s younger than three months should always be seen by a medical professional if there is an elevated temperature, as this could indicate sepsis due to an infection.
If your baby is three months or older and their axillary temperature stays above 101°F for more than 24 hours, you should also call their healthcare provider. If the fever does not respond to treatment with acetaminophen (brand name “Tylenol”) in two years-olds and older and ibuprofen (brand name “Advil”) in six month-olds and older, you should seek medical attention as well.
In addition to fever, some other signs that may indicate that it’s time to have your baby checked out include:
- Persistent irritability or fussiness;
- Vomiting for more than 4-6 hours;
- Difficulty feeding;
- Lack of wet diapers over 6-12 hours;
- Changes in breathing such as rapid breaths or grunting noises;
- Stiff neck that makes it difficult to turn neck from side to side;
- Painful urinary tract infection that is indicated by frequent passing of small amounts of urine with pain/burning sensation;
- Bluish coloration around lips/mouth;
- Constant crying lasting over 3 hours in an infant less than 3 months old;
- Listlessness lasting more than 12 hours in infants less than 12 weeks old;
- Sudden defervescence (break away) after one dose of medication followed quickly by recurrence with fever returning back up again within 8 hours;
- Feeling warm but unable to produce sweat at all when held against the skin.
If any of these symptoms are present along with a fever, please seek medical attention right away.
Vomiting or diarrhea needs to be taken seriously, as it can quickly cause your baby to become dehydrated. If your baby is vomiting or has more than two stools for two consecutive days, contact your pediatrician for further instruction. When calling, inform the office how long your baby has been having the symptoms and if there are any associated signs such as fever if you’re unable to take your child’s temperature.
Your doctor may prescribe something over the phone for the symptom (e.g., Imodium for loose stools) and may advise that you bring him/her in for an office visit depending on the circumstances and their past medical history. During a typical office visit, a doctor may order some tests to determine whether there is an infectious cause such as rotavirus or an allergic reaction that might require further treatment with steroids and other medications depending on the severity of symptoms.
Many babies have brief bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhea that resolve without difficulty but regular vomiting can interfere with weight gain so it’s important to get medical attention when needed!