Dr Wong Boh Boi shares some reassuring advice for mums feeling the pressure
Is you baby constantly crying, agitated and difficult to settle? A fussy baby above 6 months old can make life very challenging for mom and family. There are many factors that can affect a baby’s level of comfort, and knowing what to do when you recognise the signs not only brings great relief, it can feel very empowering too.
“A fussy baby can be very demanding and may affect the bonding process between mom and baby, especially if she doesn’t have the support mechanisms in place to help her. On some occasions, it can make mom can feel a little detached and hopeless. Babies are very intuitive and can pick up on their mother’s emotions and anxiety. Keeping calm, while easier said than done, is very important for both of you” says Dr Wong Boh Boi, Assistant Director at Thomson Parentcraft Centre, Singapore.
Here are some Reassuring Tips to help you keep calm and collected during those testing times with your above-6-month old baby.
1. Understand your baby’s cues
If you have a fussy, grumbly baby over 6 months of age, it could be for a number of reasons, especially during feeding time. Take time to understand your baby’s facial expressions and body language, and really study your baby — it can make all the difference! You will eventually be able to tell whether they are crying with pain, hunger, tiredness or whether they are ready for a diaper change.
“If your baby appears uncomfortable and unhappy during or after feeding and spitting up excessively, they might be experiencing signs of a delicate tummy”, says Professor Geoff Cleghorn, Director, Mead Johnson Paediatric Nutrition Institute (Asia). “While your baby will not always have a delicate tummy, their digestive system will need time to develop and become fully functional. Babies develop at different rates. Thus, it is crucial to help your child to meet the nutritional needs at different stages of development”.
2. Create an oasis of calm
A relaxing feeding environment at home can have a big impact on your fussy baby, too. If the room is quiet, well ventilated and cool, you’ve covered the basics for comfort. Make sure you have a comfortable chair or sofa and that your room is clutter free too. If everything you need is within reach, such as feeding equipment, muslin for baby and a hot drink for you, it helps you to relax into feeding time too.
Above 6 months of age, if your baby is being fed in a new environment with many distractions, this can make him a little agitated. So make use of the nursing rooms in shopping malls when you’re out and about, Mama.
3. Routine wins hands down
“When babies older than 6 months have a routine, they learn to perceive what’s coming next, and this makes them much easier to settle and steadily reach their developmental milestones. Babies without routine can become very excitable, the mom can become very tired and it becomes a vicious cycle,” comments Dr Wong Boh Boi.
A routine is extremely important for children as they learn to expect things throughout their day, such as getting fed when they are hungry and learning to nap at appropriate times, which helps builds healthy sleep patterns. Give yourself and your baby time to settle into a routine.
4. Time to sleep
Fatigue is the third most common complaint of mums with babies past 6 months of age. Having a baby is exhausting not just because of the sleep deprivation but also the learning curve that moms have to go on, especially if it is your first baby.
Try and get some sleep!
“If mom is tired and stressed and not breathing calmly, the baby will follow her. She needs to tell herself everything is ok,and talk calmly to her baby. Classical music played softly can have a calming effect on babies too” explained Dr Wong Boh Boi.
5. Seek family support
Dr Wong Boh Boi believes dads and wider family members can play a pivotal role in helping mum deal with a fussy baby.
In fact babies and young children gain particular benefit when grandparents share their daily care too. A grandparent is likely to regard this task as more than a job and provide the committed care and stability that babies and young children need for their healthy emotional development.1
Husbands, partners and family members that are present both physically and mentally to motivate, encourage and provide lots of hands-on support can help enormously, giving you the best chance to bond with you baby.