Tips for Parents Whose Babies Are Always Fussy

Does your baby struggle to sleep and can't get enough to eat?

Mixed race mother comforting baby boy
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If your baby is always fussy, you've likely reached the point that you want to rip your hair out. Take the father of a 1-month-old who'd been "feeding like crazy."

"My wife will breastfeed him for hours and we will supplement 4 oz of formula, but he still acts hungry, i.e. sucking on his hands while crying," the concerned dad wrote. "We have tried a pacifier, but he spits it out on contact. He has been putting on weight well (born 7 pounds, 4 oz and now is over 9 pounds).

"He just never gets to sleep and it just seems he [can't] get enough to eat and is never satisfied. As a bonus side effect, my wife is not getting any sleep and the baby never seems to be happy. Any advice?"

The answer, in this case, is simple. If the baby has to supplement each feeding with 4 ounces of formula, then he likely isn't getting very much breast milk. One place to start is to speak with the pediatrician and/or a lactation consultant to boost the wife's supply of breast milk so that she can breastfeed more effectively.

Parents of children who constantly seem hungry should also see their pediatrician if they are concerned that they might have reflux, a formula intolerance or some other reason to be so 'high maintenance.' Alternatively, such parents might also consider that they are misinterpreting their baby's signals about when their children are really hungry.

Just because a child is crying or wanting to suck on his hands or fingers doesn't always mean that he is hungry, especially if he just had a full feeding.

 It's also helpful to review materials about colic and the breastfed baby for more information about why a baby might cry so much at this age.

Soothing a Crying Baby

What may be the most helpful for parents of babies who cry a lot is to learn better ways to soothe the child when he is crying, especially if he seems healthy, is feeding well, and doesn't have a medical reason to be crying so much.

The Happiest Baby on the Block is a helpful book that describes a "new way to calm crying and help your baby sleep longer."

Postpartum Depression

Although it is understandable that new moms do not get any sleep if their baby is up all the time, it will help such women out if their partners or loved ones give them a break and take over for some of those night time awakenings.

New parents and their loved ones should also be alert to signs of postpartum depression, which, according to the National Women's Health Information Center, might include:

  • Feeling restless or irritable.
  • Feeling sad, depressed or crying a lot.
  • Having no energy.
  • Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations (the heart being fast and feeling like it is skipping beats), numbness, or hyperventilation (fast and shallow breathing).
  • Not being able to sleep or being very tired, or both.
  • Not being able to eat and weight loss.
  • Overeating and weight gain.
  • Trouble focusing, remembering ​or making decisions.
  • Being overly worried about the baby.
  • Not having any interest in the baby.
  • Feeling worthless and guilty.
  • Being afraid of hurting the baby or yourself.
  • No interest or pleasure in activities, including sex.

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