I haven't even given birth to my baby yet (only 44 days until my due date!) and I have already experienced the powerful impact of a group a current mommies sharing advice, and in some cases commiserating. Staying at home with a baby can feel isolating, and every pregnancy / baby is different so each new child is an adventure of what ifs and what nows. Being able to discuss your fears, confusions, and uncertainties with other mommies going through the same thing right now (or just recently) is invaluable, but we cannot discount the sage advice and tried and true methods of those who parented before us.
Obviously, not all advice is solid advice: in second century BC, the Greek physician Galen prescribed opium for colicky babies*. I'm sure it worked but we wouldn't do that now! Recommendations change all the time as studies are done and new information surfaces, but sometimes there is no better mothering advice than from your own mother - even if she hasn't had an infant for over 20 years. With that in mind, we approached some amazing mothers (and grandmothers) to share with us their advice on dealing with fussy babies. These are tactics that have survived the test of time.
What's your best advice for dealing with a fussy baby?
"I would have my baby wrapped snuggly in his favourite blanket and hold him close to my chest and whisper loving words or sing to him while gently rocking him back and forth."
Lee (Children ages 35, 32 & 30)
"Take them for a ride in the car." Ellen (Children ages 11, 7 & 6)
"The best way to deal with a fussy baby is to go into a darkened room, find a comfortable place to sit, and gently rock the baby while humming, singing, or making shushing sounds. Swaddle the baby and make sure you have a solid reassuring hold on him. Some babies like to hold a blanket or your finger or suck a soother for security. Be patient, don't rush them, and soon your baby will be content." Susan (Children ages 31, 28 & 24)
For the fussy baby on-the-go: "My diaper bag always had to have Gripe water.....don't leave home without it!" Jacqui (Children ages 29, 26 & 22)
"I would just cuddle them. Take them for a walk and whisper in to their ears. That's all I ever did." Betty (Children ages 59, 56, 55, 53 & 45)
"[Two of the things that worked for me was] Singing: I sang a lot to my kids. Some real songs and some I made up. Usually songs about the baby with the baby's name in it and ROUTINE: We started a routine with Leah when she was very young. I know it sounds crazy, but a routine really helped us." Adrienne (Children ages 6 & 14)
"First thing (after feeding, changing, and burping a fussy baby) is to swaddle them tightly and then rock/sway them. But oddly enough, I had 4 kids and they all responded to different things. Jordan - impossible mostly but liked being rocked, Mathew - swaddled and left alone, Briar - thumb and flannel blanket over her head (she also slept easily if I vacuumed), and Zach - Moses basket placed on the dryer when I was doing laundry: the noise, heat, and movement put him out." Joanne (Children ages 29, 28, 24 & 21)
"...Looking back, I remember that I would be nervous/agitated when [my babies] would not calm down. In retrospect; remaining calm really helped. Babies have a true sense when mom is out of sorts...so behaving yourself in the way you want your baby to be is really important...although not always easy." Paula (Children ages 17 & 14)
*From: Solter, A (1998). Tears and Tantrums: What to Do When Babies and Children Cry. Goleta, CA: Shining Star Press.