No matter which way you spin it, a baby is hard work. Whether this is your first child and you feel like you are in unfamiliar territory, or whether this is your second child and you think you have done it all before and know the ropes; the work of babies can begin to seem endless. More so when you have a fussy baby. Perhaps you are a mother of two or more. Not only do you have the demands of the family in general, but you also have a needy toddler demanding time and attention from you. It may feel completely overwhelming when your baby seems to be just as demanding and struggling to settle. Perhaps you are a new mother and the task of seeing to a fussy baby feels frightening as you can’t seem to find a way to soothe her.
Fussy babies are common. Immature digestive systems, an inability to filter out stimulation and general lack of regard for your routine result in many babies fussing and crying for, what seems like, no reason whatsoever. Many mothers begin to feel that they cannot cope.
- Regardless of your fussy baby, demanding toddler and unforgiving household chores – mothers need to be taken care of too. Remember that flight attendants direct passengers, in the case of an emergency, to put their own oxygen masks on first before attending to children and other passengers. Mothering is the same – you cannot see to your family or your fussing baby if you are empty. Take stock of your needs and make sure you are meeting them in some way or another. If this means reaching out and asking for help, then do so and ensure that you are getting enough nutrition, rest, exercise and some time out.
- Allow your baby a voice too. Many mothers feel overwhelmed with a baby that won’t settle quick enough. Remember that the world is a big, bright place for baby and she is coming to terms with being in it. Remind yourself regularly that this phase will pass and it is ok for baby to vent her frustrations. You can do what you can to help soothe her, but continued fussiness is in no way a failure on your part.
- Do not feel afraid to hand the baby (and the toddler) over to your partner or a trusted friend for some valuable time out. Even if it is just for a walk to the park, or a warm bath. Time out will revive you to cope better when you return.