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Formerly the Welcome Baby Newsletter
You've been through a lot in a few short weeks but one thing never changes: your baby's gonna cry. Figuring out how to comfort your crying baby, especially during the first few months, can be a frustrating cycle of trial and error. This featured article has a ton of tips and resource links to help new parents deal with "Fussy Babies, Crying and Colic."
Week 5 Milestones
By five weeks old your baby:
can follow a moving object with her eyes and focus on an object as far as three feet away.
Did you know babies prefer the human face to all other patterns?
Most parents appreciate having someone to talk to as they care for a new baby. A home visitor from Foothills-Truckee Healthy Babies has the time to answer your questions and show you ways to encourage your baby at every stage of development. Home visitors can help you find community services that match your family’s changing needs.
Now that you and baby are home and settling in, Foothills- Truckee Healthy Babies could be a great fit for your family.
Fussy Babies, Crying and Colic
All babies cry but crying usually peaks at about 6 weeks of age. And babies can cry a lot in spite of excellent parenting. This is the hardest part for all parents… doing all you can think of to soothe her and she still cries!
If your baby cries after he’s been fed, it’s possible that he’s still hungry. During a growth spurt, which often occurs around 3 weeks and
again at 6 weeks, he’ll need to eat more often and may need more at each feeding.
Other likely causes of crying are discomfort from gas or indigestion, dirty diapers, pain or illness. If your baby has eaten and been burped, has a clean diaper, shows no signs of illness or pain, and recently woke up from a nap, you may feel baffled.
Some babies thrive on predictable routines. A regular schedule for feeding, bathing and changing leading up to bedtime may help. If you arrive at a pattern that seems to work, stick to it as much as possible.
Don’t worry. Gradually you’ll learn how to interpret what she needs (at least some of the time).
Some Babies Are Fussier Than Others…
Still, some babies cry more than others. Experts estimate that one in five babies experiences excessive crying and fussiness, and nobody really knows why. Most of the time, excessive crying stops by 3-4 months. But in the meantime, a fussy, crying baby can affect the whole family and place extra stress on the parents’ relationship.
Parents, especially moms, may begin to feel depleted, discouraged, overwhelmed or sad. Unexplained or excessive crying may raise questions in your mind about your baby. This may be a time to seek out support services and to let your health care provider know how you’re feeling. There IS help and parents can feel better even during this difficult time.
To read stories from other parents with fussy babies, click here.
Tips for Crying Babies
Here are some tips that may help soothe your fussy baby. Be sure to give each method time to work. Switching too quickly from one to another may make things worse.
It’s best to respond to your baby’s cries promptly since he’s developing a sense of trust and security. Pick him up and hold him close, whispering soothing messages. It’s impossible to spoil a baby during these first few months. A pacifier can also be a source of comfort.
Rhythm and Sound
Rhythmic motion – being rocked in your arms, a cradle, carriage, or after 6 weeks, in a baby swing, may help. Going for a ride in a carriage, stroller or the family car, or for a walk in a front carrier, soothes many babies.
For some babies, the combination of movement and white noise seems to work magic. The sounds of the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher or clothes dryer, or running water may help.
A warm bath with you, if your baby likes it, can do the trick. Be sure the room is warm and cover him quickly if he seems to object to being naked.
Or how about a massage? It might relax both of you to massage your baby while you lie on your back with the baby face down on your chest. Find a book on baby massage or check out this how-to video from parents.com.
Swaddling, or wrapping your baby in a receiving blanket, may help but be sure not to overheat him. Crying heats baby and the discomfort of being too warm may cause more tears.
Could All That Crying Be Colic?
About 20% of newborn babies develop colic, which usually occurs within the second or third week of life and peaks around 6 weeks.
Colic is characterized by a high-pitched scream rather than a cry, and can occur in the second or third week for several hours each day. Baby’s legs are usually drawn up to her stomach or stretched straight out and her face is red. Colic reaches its peak at 6 weeks and usually ends at around 3 months. This can be extremely stressful, but studies show that babies with colic are healthy and continue to thrive.
The good news is that colic often disappears by three months and that colicky baby are usually healthy and continue to thrive, although their parents are exhausted.
If you suspect colic, ask your child’s doctor for advice about way to soothe your baby or try some of the suggestions below. And don’t blame yourself. Studies show that parental anxiety is the result of colic, not the cause of it!
It's Not Anybody's Fault
When nothing seems to work, it’s normal to feel desperate to stop the crying. Don’t feel guilty, but take a break, even if it’s just for 5 minutes of fresh air or to take a warm shower. Also a fresh face and voice – your partner, a grandparent or friend, or a sitter – may be calming for the baby.
Reassure siblings by explaining that inconsolable crying or colic won’t last and that it’s no one’s fault. Remind your older child how much she’s loved and try to find some time each day to spend with her.
Remember, by the end of the day your baby may simply be overstimulated and need to be put down in a quiet, warm and cozy bed to get some sleep.
Don’t overlook this simple solution.
Try not to interpret your baby’s crying as a response to your parenting. No parent is always able to soothe a baby. And although about 1 in 5 infants falls into the “fussy baby” category, that doesn’t mean she’ll be difficult when she’s older. Your baby is still adjusting to life in her new world and that takes time.
Reprinted with permission from Welcome Words, a publication of the Welcome Baby Program of Durham County, NC, Cooperative Extension.
The first 6 weeks with a newborn can be a rollercoaster ride of joy and challenges. With all the emotional highs and lows, shifting hormones and sleepless nights, it's not uncommon for moms to experience the "post-baby blues."
So now we're focusing on "Self-Care for New Parents," to remind you that it's important to take care of yourself as well as your baby. We've pulled together some tips for taking care of yourself, plus a quiz and resources for dealing with the post-baby blues.
Self-Care for New Parents
You’ve already discovered how tough it can be to be a parent. Our babies need us all the time in a way most of us have never before experienced, and those first few days of joy that some parents have usually fade into the blur of sleeplessness. While it can feel good to be needed, it is also exhausting.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of YOU
It’s very important that parents take time for self-care. This can mean something as simple as a ten-minute walk alone or as elaborate as a massage, anything from a phone conversation with your best friend to a favorite TV show to a pedicure. Pick something that you know will recharge your batteries and try for a little something every day.
In taking care of ourselves this way, we can give more to our children.
And don’t forget about sleep: get as much as you can – avoid the temptation to stay awake after baby goes to sleep. When we are rested and have had
some time to recharge, we are much more patient and less easily frustrated with the harder parts of parenthood.
If you have a partner, take turns giving each other a break. If you are a single parent, make sure you have some support people in your life who can give you a needed break.
When you are parenting with a partner, don’t forget to nurture your relationship, too. Take time to talk with one another and don’t forget to find a way to say, “I love you.”
If you are feeling sad and blue, you are not alone. About 20% of all moms experience after-baby blues, or postpartum depression. It is the most common complication of childbirth.
Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. They differ for everyone but might include the following:
Feelings of anger or irritability
Lack of interest in the baby Appetite or sleep disturbances Crying and sadness
Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
Loss interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
If you feel you may be suffering from one or more of these symptoms, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame.
Postpartum depression is temporary and treatable with professional help. You can get joy and happiness back into your life.
Start by taking this short quiz: Is It More Than Post-Baby Blues?
Keep track of the number next to each answer you select and at the end, add up your score. If your final score is more than 10, you would benefit from postpartum depression counseling or a support group.
Remember, a significant percentage of new moms experience postpartum depression. If you're one of them, it's important to get help so that you can move forward, feel like yourself again and enjoy your new baby!
Postpartum Depression Resources:
Most parents appreciate having someone to talk to as they care for a new baby. A home visitor from Foothills-Truckee Healthy Babies has the time to answer your questions and help you find needed resources. A home visitor can also make a real difference for moms who are struggling with post-baby blues or depression. For more information, click the link above or call (530) 265.9550, Ext 233. Se habla Español (530) 265-9550, Ext. 301.
For Assessment and Referrals
Charlene Weiss-Wenzl, Nevada County Public Health: (530) 265-7265
Nevada County Behavioral Health: (530) 265-1437
Local Counseling Services
Anew Day PPD support group (free): (530) 470-9111
Insights Counseling Group (Auburn): (530) 887-1300
Online Support Resources
Nevada County Behavioral Health Crisis Line: (530) 265-5811 / Toll free: 888-801-1437
1800PPDMOMS (24/7, multilingual): (800) 733-6667
Next week your baby’s well-child check up at the pediatrician’s office will include immunizations. Many think this visit is tougher on the parents than the baby! In this article, we're sharing some tips to make getting through this first immunization process as easy as possible for you as well as your baby.
Get the latest research on infant immunizations
Immunizing Your Baby
You’ve spent the last several weeks keeping your baby from harm – supporting her head, feeding her when she’s hungry, not letting her cry alone, helping her to bring up the painful air in her tummy. Then, at her two-month well-baby check-up you’ll allow the doctor or nurse to stick a needle in her – on purpose!
It can be a difficult doctor visit for new parents and tough to watch as your baby gets the first of the immunizations that will protect him from what were once commonly life-threatening diseases. What can you do to ease the situation?
Make yourself comfortable
Educate yourself about the need for immunizations. When you feel sure
about your decisions, you will be more relaxed about getting shots for your child. Also our babies pick up on our feelings, particularly when we are tense or nervous, and this alone can make a baby cry. If you are feeling nervous, take a deep breath to relax yourself – it will help your baby relax, too.
Make your baby comfortable
Hold your baby and talk to her while she gets the immunizations – it’s much easier on the baby than lying on a cold examining table. You can also nurse your baby or offer him a pacifier during or right after the injections. Nursing releases hormones in the baby that can ease pain; some babies won’t even cry at 2 months when they nurse while receiving injections.
Ask your doctor about infant pain medication
Over-the-counter pain relievers can help a baby be more comfortable after the shots. BUT do not ever give aspirin to a baby: use Tylenol, Advil or other aspirin-free pain relievers. Ask your doctor to recommend one specifically for children. Your doctor also can recommend a dose based on your baby’s weight.
Some babies may experience discomfort after vaccinations, such as a low fever, fussiness, or redness at the site of the injection. The pain reliever will help with these symptoms and a clean, cool, wet washcloth on the redness can help, too.
If your child has a high fever, a strange cry, is limp or pale, seems less responsive than usual, or otherwise seems sick to you, call your doctor or clinic. Also, if your child is fussy for more than 24 hours following the shots, call your doctor or clinic. Follow your gut on this: if you are worried, it’s better to call. You can also call the nurse advice line after hours (274-6877) with any questions.
Children typically receive shots at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months in the first year. Most babies also receive a first vaccination, against Hepatitis B, at birth. They will be immunized against up to 12 diseases in their first year. Some parents worry that immunizations may not be safe for their baby. Doctors, scientists, and public health professionals are almost unanimous in their agreement that the effects of the diseases are much worse than the effects of the vaccines. Most parents of infants weren’t alive when vaccine- preventable diseases were common life-threatening illnesses for babies and children so we tend to forget the risks of such diseases.
After the Shots: What to do if your child has discomfort
Your child may need extra love and care after getting vaccinated. Some vaccinations that protect children from serious diseases also can cause discomfort for a while. Here are answers to questions many parents have after their child has been vaccinated.
I think my child has a fever. What should I do?
Check your child’s temperature to find out if there is a fever. A rectal digital thermometer provides the best reading for babies and children under 3 years of age.
Here are some things you can do to help reduce fever:
Give your baby plenty to drink.
Dress him in light clothing. Do not cover or wrap your baby tightly.
Give your baby the fever-reducing medication recommended by your pediatrician. Generally children’s dosages of acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin) are safe. Do not give aspirin. Recheck your baby’s temperature after 1 hour.
Sponge your baby in 1-2 inches of lukewarm water.
My child has been fussy since getting vaccinated. What should I do?
After vaccination children may be fussy due to pain or fever. You may want to give your child an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin). Do not give aspirin. If your child is fussy for more than 24 hours, call your clinic or health care provider.
My child’s leg or arm is swollen, hot and red. What should I do?
Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the sore area for comfort. For pain, give your child an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin). Do not give aspirin.
If redness or tenderness increases after 24 hours, call your clinic or health care provider.
My child seems really sick. Should I call my health care provider?
If you are worried at all about how your child looks or feels, call your clinic or health care provider!
Call your clinic right away if your answer “yes” to any of the following questions:
Does your baby have a temperature about which your health care provider has told you to be concerned?
Is your child pale or limp?
Has your child been crying for more than 3 hours and just won’t quit? Does your child have a high-pitched or strange cry that just isn’t normal?
Is your child’s body shaking, twitching or jerking?
Does your child have marked decrease in activity or responsiveness?
Isn't it amazing how much your baby has grown and changed in just 2 short months? SO much is going on inside that little body right now!
We're taking another look at playtime - which is really serious work time for your baby as she builds her muscles and her brain to take on the next developmental milestones.
Week 8 Milestone
By eight weeks old your baby:
Will probably be able to smile back when you smile at him
Will begin to make sounds other than crying, such as cooing
Will be able to hold her head up a bit when lying on her stomach
Why Milestones Matter
Skills such as rolling over, smiling for the first time, and waving "bye bye" are called developmental milestones. Individual babies grow and master skills at their own pace, of course, but how your baby plays, learns, speaks, and acts offers important clues about her development. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for an 8-week old baby, including:
Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
Doesn’t watch things as they move
Doesn’t smile at people
Doesn’t bring hands to mouth
Can’t hold head up when pushing up when on tummy
Playing With Your Two- to Three-Month Old
Doctors are seeing more and more babies with flat heads and tight neck muscles (torticollis). Many believe that this is because infants are spending too much time in car seats, which hold them in one position for too long. Leave the car seat in the car!
It’s good for babies’ development to spend time in lots of different positions: on their tummy on the floor, on your lap, held upright, in a sling. Try to have several minutes of tummy time several times a day. You can make it fun for your baby by lying down with him and facing him, and by providing toys, books, or a mirror to look at. Play time on her tummy will help your baby strengthen the muscles in her neck and body that she will need for rolling over and crawling.
Now is a great time to start reading to your baby. The more words a baby hears, the bigger vocabulary he will have and the better he will do in school one day. Choose short books with rhyme and rhythm in their words to really capture your baby’s attention. Brightly colored pictures and photos of babies are also attention-getters.
Singing to your baby is another great way to play. You can even dance gently while you sing! Think of a song that’s special to you and share it with your little one. Soon it will be special to her, too.
Look for signs that your baby has had enough of play. When he’s turning away, putting an arm over his eyes, sneezing, hiccoughing or arching his back, he’s telling you it’s time for a different activity.
Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images