Causes for a fussy baby at night
You have just changed your newborn into their night garments, right after a warm bath and well-fed, and now your child is falling asleep in your arms. You hope to have peace and quiet tonight, but you’ve almost fallen into the awake-at-night routine.
Bringing up a child might seem like a piece of cake until you have to deal with vaccination schedules, their nap requirements, and feeding schedules. But the worst of them all? Dealing with crying and fussing.
Your little one will often communicate with you through crying but it can sometimes be confusing in trying to decipher what your child wants. Yet, your newborn’s crying might seem tenfold worse at night – seemingly for no reason – and this can cause you distress while trying to figure out how to calm your child.
So what exactly causes your little angel to prevent you from enjoying a peaceful and quiet night and instead experience the infamous “witching hour”? Here are some reasons why your baby is fussy at night.
1. Baby Colic
This is a period where a baby will cry or fuss at least three hours in a day, occurring more than thrice a week, and lasting for three continuous weeks or more. This condition can start as early as two weeks old and reaches its peak at six weeks old. Colic lasts up to about six months of age.
The biggest challenge about this condition is that it doesn’t have an official cause and is often reasoned as a developmental stage, and so you most probably have to live through it.
You would think that with all the sleeping and laying down, babies barely get tired. Yet, your child’s fussiness might be caused by his/her overtiredness. Tiredness in babies is often affected by their sleep routines.
So, when your child does not have a good sleep schedule, they will fall asleep whenever they feel like and this will take a toll on their night’s sleep – which affects you too.
3. Low Prolactin levels
The reason why you are able to breastfeed is due to the prolactin hormone which helps your body to produce milk. However, your prolactin levels lower as the day goes by which in turn slows down your milk production.
As you guessed it, it will significantly lower as evening advances and your child may require more feeding time in order to have their regular amount of milk and this will result in cluster feeding which might be a reason for your infant’s crying during the night.
4. Pains from Gas
An uncomfortable baby will show his/her discomfort through fussiness. Gas pains are a cause for uncomfortable situations and this will make your baby squirm and pull on their legs and cry through the night until they get your attention since your infant’s discomfort will be your discomfort.
Gas is mostly caused by your infant drinking too fast or gulping a lot of air while drinking.
Another possible cause for your infant’s meltdown is overstimulation. This means that your little one is trying to familiarize and cope with their new environment but can often be overwhelmed by the new world and this will cause overstimulation.
This overwhelming feeling can be difficult to deal with while trying to calm your baby.
While this is a great milestone your baby will have to survive through, it comes with more pros than cons. Teething will often cause your infant a lot of discomfort in their gums and your little one will project their pain by fussing and crying.
Tips to calm a fussy baby
Despite the seemingly never-ending wails and tears and your lack of peace and sleep, there are various ways in which you can soothe your fussy baby and help them to calm down. Here are a few ways how.
1. Calming sound
Calming sounds often mimic the calmness of the womb and this reminds your baby of that feeling. You can various calming sounds such as a heartbeat recording, humming sound from a fan, or using a white noise device.
Calming sounds easily soothe a crying newborn and even help them to get to sleep.
As a calming motion, rocking provides the movements close to what your little one felt while in the womb. The rocking position allows your child to feel secure in your arms assuring them of familiarity and this enables them to calm down. This action is also so relaxing that it can almost cause you to fall asleep!
Since your baby could be fussy from overstimulation, wrapping your newborn properly in a blanket will help them feel secure. This way, he/she will not feel as overwhelmed by their new surrounding and will fell calmer as they try to familiarize with their environment.
This also helps with fighting off any feeling of coldness in which your baby may be experiencing.
4. Going Outdoors
Taking your child on a little evening stroll, a car ride or just sitting with them outside when they are being fussy will give them the feeling of a change of environment and their fascination with it will calm your child down.
Ways to hold and calm a fussy baby
When your baby is fussy, and you do not know how to calm him or her down, you can easily achieve the calming effect by holding them in unique positions that offer security, comfort and easily soothes your crying newborn.
1. Reverse-Breastfeeding Hold
Just like its name, this position involves having your child’s back against your front, with your arm securing their stomach while your hand supports your child’s head and neck. This position is easy to achieve and provides comfort and a sense of security which result in relief.
2. Head-against-Shoulder Hold
This holding position involves simply placing your newborn in an upright position and with their head against your shoulder or upper chest section. You can even hold the back of your little one’s head to enhance the soothing effect.
3. Football Hold
This type of hold involves lying your little one on their stomach. One of your arms should run from their head (to offer support) to their midsection and clasp with the other arm secured between dangling legs. Unlike lying on their back where babies easily experience the falling reflex, lying on their stomach will help your child feel secure and reassure them that they are going to be okay.
You can also lay your baby with their stomach against your lap and rub their back to enhance the soothing effect.
How to calm a fussy baby with gas
Since your baby may gulp air in between breastfeeding or drinking from the bottle, it is advisable to hold them upright and gently pat their back until they burp. This is the ideal procedure to mitigate a gassy tummy and ensure that your infant remains as comfortable as ever.
2. Natural heating pad
Just as heating pads instantly ease any discomfort within the tummy or back, your body can act as a natural heating pad for your child and provide them with comfort from their gassy tummies. To effect this, you can place your child in a carrier and have them face you, positioning your tummies against each other.
3. Tummy massage
Giving your infant gentle massages on their tummy will improve bowel movement and help them to easily pass gas. These massages also help in enhancing digestion and easing bloating.
4. Warm bath
Bath times are an immense pleasure for most babies and even your fussy child can be calmed by the warm water. For a gassy and fussy newborn, the warm environment provides both relief from the gas pains and helps them to calm down.
Having a new bundle of joy is a great milestone to parenting. Yet, it may seem like you are doing everything wrong when your child won’t calm down and is probably screaming their little lungs out almost every night.
Rather than “hope” for a better night with no fussing and crying, you can easily soothe and provide comfort to your newborn by following these tips. This will enable you and your baby to have long and comfortable nights.