Parents and Kids

Calming A Fussy Newborn

Pediatrician Ana Stocia, MD discusses ways parents can help calm their fussy newborn and provides long-term solutions to fussiness.

Mar. 5, 2021 4   min read

calming newborn

Comforting a crying baby can seem like an impossible task at times. As a new parent, it’s helpful to know some tips on how to calm a fussy newborn.

Ana Stoica, MD, a pediatrician at Penn Fair Pediatrics, recommends a variety of ways to help calm a newborn while they’re upset and provides long-term strategies to help a baby stay relaxed. 

How to calm a baby

When a newborn baby is fussy, there are a few ways to calm them down. From making the baby more physically comfortable to changing the atmosphere of the room, here are some ways to relax your crying baby.

Swaddle your baby

Wrap the baby up in a large, thin blanket to help them feel secure.

To properly swaddle a newborn, lay him/her face-up on a blanket that is spread out flat with one folded corner. Place their head right above the folded corner. Straighten their left arm and wrap the left corner of the blanket over their body to tuck it between their right arm and the right side of their body.

“If you’re not confident about how to properly swaddle a newborn, ask your doctor to demonstrate before attempting,” says Dr. Stoica.

Hold your baby in your arms with their left side down

This can help with digestive problems, which may be the cause of the baby’s fussiness. Having the baby lay on their side is only safe if you have them in your arms.

“If you want to put them to bed in their crib, be sure to lay the baby on their back.”

Walk or rock your baby

Put your baby in a body sling and walk around or hold them in your arms and rock them back and forth.

“The motions can remind the baby of when they were in the womb and will likely have a calming effect,” says Dr. Stoica. 

Turn on calming sounds

The sounds of white noise, the humming of a fan, or a simple recording of a heartbeat all remind newborns of being in the womb. This can also be done by making a gentle “shhh” sound in the baby’s ear repeatedly.

Long-term solutions to fussiness

If your newborn is constantly fussy, there may be long-term changes that can help with their discomfort.

Dr. Stoica recommends looking at the newborn’s diet or sleeping habits and making adjustments to help reduce frequent crying.

Avoid overfeeding your baby

Overfeeding a newborn will likely make them uncomfortable.

“A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 2 hours between each feeding. If the baby seems fussy because they’re hungry but it’s not time to feed them, offer a pacifier to distract the baby and calm them down.”

Keep track of the newborn’s habits

Keep record of when the baby sleeps, eats, and cries or gets fussy.  Understanding the relationship these events have to each other can help determine what the cause of fussiness is. Presenting this log to a doctor can bet the most helpful way to find the route of the problem.

Rest is key (for you and your baby)

“Keep things pretty boring at night when changing and feeding the baby by avoiding bright lights or any loud noises,” recommends Dr. Stoica. “That will help keep them as relaxed as they were inside the uterus.”

Making sure you get enough rest can help you remain calm and patient when your baby is upset. During the day, try to nap when your baby is napping. Don’t feel guilty and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need to rest. 

For nursing mothers: try a change in diet

If you’re nursing your newborn and they are often fussy, try changing your diet. Try removing coffee, onions or other foods from your diet that are potentially irritating the baby.

“If your baby is still fussy after your initial diet modification, talk to your pediatrician about cutting down on your milk and dairy intake or changing to a different plant based milk.” 

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