Much to everyone’s disappointment, a fussy baby doesn’t come with a user guide helping its parents troubleshoot through the long evenings and exhausting nights. Once baby is fed, burped, the diaper is dry, and she’s not sick, everything should be good, right? As I’m sure you know, this is not always the case.
Just like a full belly and warm, dry clothes don’t solve all your problems, a baby often needs more than just the basics. The problem, however, is that babies are limited in how they can communicate. All they have is their cry. As challenging as having a fussy baby may be, remember, your baby is doing their best, just like you are, too.
How to Calm a Fussy Baby, Quickly
Whether your baby is an infant or six months old, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or formula feeding, or you think you may be dealing with colic, in this post you’ll be sure to find a new idea or two for calming your fussy baby, quickly.
One thing I’ve learned after raising three babies of my own and watching my friends do the same, is that all babies are different. The baby that brought you to this website is unique in temperament just as you are uniquely you. Some babies may need you to do a lot of the things on this list and give it all you’ve got, and some just a few.
Sometimes a high needs baby grows up to be a mover and a shaker, making great changes in our world. And sometimes the best thing we can do is buckle up and enjoy the ride. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make some things just a little bit better.
Read over this list and notice what jumps out at you. Pick 2-3 things off this list to try and come up with a game plan to implement these ideas alongside your support team. You’ve got this!
11 Tips to Calm a Fussy Baby
The following are 11 brilliant ideas that can calm a fussy baby quickly, many of which are free or inexpensive and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Use a Pacifier
Sucking is one of nature’s most powerful ways of calming a crying baby. If you’re not breastfeeding, or if you just need a break, using a pacifier is a wonderful way to soothe a fussy baby.
The thing is, it can be tricky to find the right pacifier. Not all pacifiers are created equal! With one of my kids I ended up buying four or five different varieties because she was literally repulsed by certain designs. So crazy!
As funny as this may sound, I found a pacifier that is baby approved. The PhysioForma Orthodontic Pacifier made by Chicco was immediately accepted by 9 out of 10 babies. (And it’s also really inexpensive!)
The nice thing about this pacifier is that it also supports a baby’s physiological breathing. Chicco created a nipple design that helps position baby’s tongue forward, maintaining an open airway. When physiological breathing improves, the quality of sleep improves, and thus reduces irritability. This is a win-win for a fussy baby!
Alongside Chicco’s pacifiers are two must-have accessories that make life with baby a little bit more sane. First, let me introduce you to the pocket buddy. When you attach a pacifier to this bad boy it makes finding it in the diaper bag a sinch. Also, most babies enjoy the extra snuggles from these little guys.
The interesting thing about this product is you can attach the pacifier to its hand, but you can also attach it so that it fits in the little center pocket. When not in use, the pocket is a great way to keep the pacifier out of the way and clean.
My favorite is the fox. How cute is this little fox pocket buddy?!
Pacifiers have a way of disappearing, just like socks in the dryer. Enter the second must-have accessory – the universal pacifier clip. This clip keeps any pacifier right where you left it. Whether it’s on your baby, or in the diaper bag when not in use, this small hero helps parents sooth a fussy baby, quickly.
NOTE: When using a pacifier, make sure to use it only as a tool and not a crutch. If you find yourself using a pacifier to delay a feeding in order to accomplish the next task, know that you’re creating more opportunities for baby to be fussy. If you’re breastfeeding, you are also putting your milk supply at risk and increasing the risk of mastitis.
Here’s a great video about how to help a baby keep a pacifier in their mouth with Dr. Harvy Karp of Happiest Baby on the Block. It works so well!
Consider the Digestive System
Babies don’t come out of the womb asking for steak and potatoes because their digestive systems are very immature and sensitive. That and they don’t have teeth. And they can’t talk. 😉
Despite being on a simple liquid diet, some still struggle to digest their food, which leads to very unhappy babies.
Have a conversation with your pediatrician for a physical exam to rule out reflux, a common problem with little ones. Some babies may simply grow out of it, but some may need a little help with medication.
Another thing to consider are probiotics specially made for babies. For whatever reason, a baby’s gut sometimes doesn’t develop as it should, causing pain and discomfort in babies. I have a good friend that eliminated the symptoms of colic in their formula fed baby simply by adding probiotics to baby’s daily routine. It was a simple solution with massive results.
See a Chiropractor
Birth can be a bit traumatic on a baby’s body, especially after a cesarean birth, or if a vacuum or forceps were used. Just like adults, babies can get out of alignment which then causes all sorts of problems.
Remember, the spine is part of the nervous system, which impacts the entire body. By bringing our spine into alignment, you will be helping your babies nervous system and whole body to function as it was designed.
Visit a Lactation Consultant
If you are breastfeeding and dealing with a fussy baby, it’s important to visit with an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). Breastfeeding may be natural, but sometimes requires a bit of troubleshooting. Whether it’s a latch issue, milk supply, over supply tips, an IBCLC may be just what you need.
Think of a lactation consultant as a breastfeeding troubleshooting magical unicorn. They’re amazing! Find one!
Try a Baby Carrier
Before birth, a baby’s only life experience is of and through its mother. Immediately after birth, the best place for baby to be is to continue to be with mom.
It makes sense that even as baby matures, its happy place will continue to be with a parent or other loving caregiver. However, life marches on and it’s near impossible to hold a baby their whole waking life. Enter the baby carrier.
Many parents report that a good newborn baby carrier
- is helpful for colicky babies
- keeps strangers from touching baby and spreading germs
- is helpful for babies with reflux
- allows parents to have their hands free (yay!)
- keeps babies calm as they thrive with touch
- increases oxytocin (that feel good, bonding hormone)
- snug like a swaddle, minimizing the startling morow reflex
- is especially helpful with parents that have more than one child
- keeps baby from spending too much time lying on surfaces, which can cause a flat spot on baby’s head
Bounce and Jiggle Your Fussy Baby
In the womb, babies experience jiggly movement while their mothers go about their normal lives. Not only do they become accustomed to this sensation, but they actually like it and are soothed by it. After birth this desire does not go away!
Ever notice how babies don’t like it when they’re being held and you sit down? Or, *gasp*, you place them in their cribs for a nap?
No, I’m not suggesting that we never put our babies down, but to calm a fussy baby, jiggly movement or bouncing may do the trick.
TIP: Don’t deflate your birthing balls quite yet ladies, they have a purpose after birth too! While holding baby, or even while they’re in a baby carrier, gently bounce or rock on the right size birthing ball to soothe a fussy baby.
When a fussy baby is really wailing, it can be difficult to get their attention. One thing that often gets their mind off their discomfort is being outside and experiencing their new surroundings.
As babies develop, because they are wired to learn and absorb new information, I believe that they sometimes become bored of being at home day in and day out. A quick way to remedy this predicament is to simply step outside.
Everything is new and different to a baby, even the simplest of things – outdoors. The temperature is different, there’s much more to look at, and they may even feel or smell new and unusual things like the wind on their skin or the freshly cut grass of a neighbor’s yard.
Try a Car Ride
If your fussy baby hates being in the car, go ahead and jump to the next section. 😉
Some babies sleep really well in the car, maybe even better than when at home. For some parents, this is a frustrating phenomenon, but it likely has much to do with a baby feeling cozy in their seat, sitting at an incline, the jiggly nature of a car ride, and the white noise of a moving car. No, this isn’t a long-term solution, but if you need a break, a quick fix, and some peace and quiet, a car ride is a solid choice.
Have you ever noticed that the more overtired you become, the more upset and irrational you may feel, sometimes making it even more difficult to go to sleep? Even when that’s the thing you need the most! This happens to babies too. Sleep is conducive to sleep. The more sleep your baby gets, the more sleep they will continue to have. A well-rested baby goes down for a nap easier than an overtired baby.
NOTE: The AAP advises parents to not use a carseat for sleep when not traveling. So once you get home, transfer your baby to their crib. May the force be with you.
Use White Noise
Babies like white noise because it’s something they became used to in the womb. It’s loud in there! The world outside of the womb feels very foreign and overstimulating to a baby. Just like an American may be comforted by a hamburger, fries, and a coke from McDonalds in a foreign country, a baby feels more at home and comforted by white noise.
One of my most used items in my babies’ rooms was a white noise machine. I’m pretty sure I’d had it on for ten years straight. That’s how much we loved it!
Veteran moms know that no matter what the age of the child, a solution to may problems can often be to “just add water”. Everything gets better with a little bit of water!
As a tween this may look like swimming in a pool with their friends, or a younger child playing in a sprinkler out on the front yard. A fussy toddler may find joy in stomping in a puddle and a fussy baby may love a warm bath.
If nothing is working, and hey, maybe they need a bath anyway, give a fussy baby a bath. Who knows, maybe it’ll help everyone to have a better attitude! 😉
Try Infant Massage
Did you know that if not touched, babies will die? (SOURCE) I know that seems dramatic, and it is, but if babies don’t do well with a lack of touch, it’s safe to assume the opposite to be true as well. And it is! Babies thrive with lots of loving and soothing touch in their lives.
Skin to skin contact with a baby releases peak amounts of oxytocin in both baby and parent. Oxytocin is a feel good hormone that encourages bonding, and feelings of altruism. Some even call it the hormone of love!
A really neat way to love a baby is through infant massage. Unsure of where to start? If there is not a local infant massage instructor in your area, you will love the book Infant Massage – A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala McClure.
TIP: When learning infant massage, it’s helpful for fathers to learn independently of the baby’s mother.
How to Calm a Fussy Baby, Quickly
To re-cap, the following are 11 ideas to calm a fussy baby, quickly.
- Use a Pacifier
- Consider the Digestive System
- See a Chiropractor
- Visit a Lactation Consultant
- Try a Baby Carrier
- Bounce and Jiggle
- Go Outside
- Try a Car Ride
- Use White Noise
- Just Add Water
- Try Infant Massage
What Worked to Calm Your Fussy Baby?
Leave a comment and share what worked (or didn’t work!) to calm your baby. I’d love to hear your story!