Handling irritable babies can be easy – if you know what the problem is and how to fix it! Co-author of Baby Sense and Sleep Sense, and author of Toddler Sense, Sister Ann Richardson shares these tips to quickly and effectively deal with your upset baby.
My baby cries all the time
- Your baby might be ill. Check for signs of fever, rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, or not eating. If she has any of these symptoms, seek medical help.
- If your baby isn’t ill, she might be hungry. If you’re breastfeeding, ensure your milk supply is keeping up with her demands. If you’re formula feeding, check you’re giving her the correct volume of milk for her age. Ask your clinic sister to advise you.
- She might be overtired. A newborn can stay awake for about 45-60 minutes, a 3-month-old about 60-90 minutes, and a 6-9 month old around two hours before becoming fussy and irritable.
- Your little one might be overstimulated. An overstimulated baby will display colic-like symptoms such as fussiness, arching of the back, restlessness, and will resist sleep. Babies under the age of 3 months battle to adapt to their environment, so it’s up to you to make her surroundings comfortable. Keep your little one swaddled with her hands at her mouth, especially if she’s tired.
How do I stop my baby screaming at bath time?
- Your baby may find bath time unpleasant because of the change in air and body temperature, and the sensation of water on her body.
- Make bath time as quick as possible and have a warm towel ready to wrap around her when you take her out of the water.
- Snugly wrap and hold her until she settles. To prevent her from feeling cold, be quick when soaping and creaming her body.
- Placing a facecloth over your baby’s tummy, when she’s in the bath, will help to make her feel secure.
How can my baby overcome her fear of strangers?
Stranger anxiety may be part of your baby’s temperament and personality, so she may always be cautious around new faces. It’s important you show confidence in the strange face and encourage communication with this new person in your little one’s world.
My baby has a nappy rash
- Usually most nappy rashes are caused by urine or faeces coming into contact with the skin for long periods of time, or sensitivity to a product you may be applying to the nappy area, such as wipes, creams, and disposable nappies.
- Wash your baby’s nappy area with warm water and apply a healing nappy cream over the rash. Let your little one walk around without a nappy for about 10 minutes every day in non-direct sunlight.
My baby won’t settle
The first step is to rule out illness. Her digestive system is immature, so she might be suffering from:
- Gastric discomfort such as winds and gas
- Nausea and heartburn from acid reflux
- Intolerance to formula milk.
- Overtiredness and overstimulation. Avoid keeping her awake for long periods and make sure she’s in a comfortable environment when she becomes fussy and irritable. Keep her swaddled, as this mimics the comfort of the womb and will help her feel secure and help her settle.
My baby won’t feed
- Usually the most common reasons babies don’t eat are gastroenteritis, upper or lower respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infections.
- Babies and children get dehydrated quickly, so it’s important to get medical help if she hasn’t fed for many hours and is either fussy or lethargic.
- Oral thrush can also be a cause of not eating, so keep an eye out for white, creamy patches on her inner cheeks, tongue, and palate.
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux can result in nausea and vomiting. Your pharmacist, clinic sister, or doctor will tell you how to treat these conditions. If your baby is bottle fed, she may not like the shape and size of the teat, so trying out a new teat often helps. Make sure she isn’t overtired or overstimulated at feeding time.
More about the expert:
Anne Richardson is a qualified nurse and midwife. She is also the co-author of the international bestsellers, Baby Sense; Sleep Sense and author of the international best seller Toddler Sense. Learn more about Anne Richardson here.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.