How to Soothe a Fussy Baby

Just like grown ups, some babies are more sensitive than others and may become upset more easily or be more difficult to calm or soothe. A fussy baby is a challenge to a new parent who is already trying to figure out what baby wants and how to soothe and calm him. Random crying, crying that seems out of proportion with the issue, or crying that seems to last longer than it should are all signs of a fussy baby.

There is no real medical diagnosis for fussiness, unlike colic which is a different and more severe problem. You baby may outgrow his fussy ways, or it may be a sign of a personality trait that will later develop – a sensitivity that is not necessarily a bad thing. When your baby is crying, however, and you just want to figure out how to make it stop, it doesn’t much matter what the fussiness represents. Soothing your baby is a top priority.

Try the Top Three

When you hear your baby start to cry, the first things to eliminate from the list of possible solutions are the top three reasons that babies cry. The first is the most obvious – hunger. Try offering baby the breast or bottle to see if he is hungry. If he refuses, you can move on to other possibilities. The second culprit behind a crying baby is a dirty diaper. While some babies don’t seem to notice or care when they are in need of a change, fussy or sensitive babies may become very upset when their diaper is dirty. If the diaper is clean, or you have changed it and the crying hasn’t stopped, the third on the top three list is tiredness. It could be that your baby really just needs a nap, and has reached the point of over-tiredness where he really doesn’t know what to do about this feeling of fatigue, and cries. Take your baby into a quiet dark place and gently rock him, watching for signs of sleepiness. If he falls asleep, you have solved the problem.

When It’s None of the Above

If your baby is crying and you have eliminated the top three possibilities, it’s time to move on. Try some of the classic techniques for soothing a baby. Start by holding your baby and making a “shhhhh” sound close to her ear. Babies are soothed by white noise, and this sound is basically white noise you make yourself. Accompany this with rocking in a chair or in your arms as an additional soothing method.

Many fussy babies are easily over-stimulated, so when your baby becomes upset, try calming her environment. Turn down the lights, turn off anything that might be making noise such as a television or radio, and ask anyone who can to leave the room – or leave the room yourself for a quieter spot. Something simply removing sources of overstimulation can do the trick.

Motion is a wonderful trick for soothing fussy babies. Aside from rocking, try an infant swing or put baby in her car seat and go for a drive. A walk in the stroller may work equally well.

It may seem obvious, but offering a pacifier can sometimes do the trick. Babies find sucking soothing, but may not always be hungry. A pacifier can help to calm her down and may even help her fall asleep.

If you can’t soothe your baby by any method, it’s a good idea to rule out medical causes for the crying. Put in a call to your pediatrician if the crying lasts for more than three hours and nothing can soothe your baby, to make sure there isn’t another reason for the crying.

Dealing with a Picky Eater

Around two years old, most children will enter a picker phase of eating than their previous habits. As their taste buds develop and they begin to discover their independence, toddlers start to become very picky eaters who can leave their mothers feeling like short order cooks while trying to please them.

Picky eaters can be frustrating for anyone charged with attempting to get a balanced and varied selection of foods into their diet. The pickiness can continue well past toddlerhood as well, leaving parents at a loss. Take on your picky eater with a few tricks and tips to bring him to the table.

Don’t Give In

If your toddler knows that you are going to offer an alternative when he rejects what you have prepared for dinner, he will more likely to hold his ground and refuse to even try what’s on his plate. Your toddler isn’t going to starve himself – if he’s really hungry, he will eat what’s in front of him. Stick to your guns even if it means that your little one goes to bed a bit hungry for a few nights. Eventually he will realize that you aren’t going to bow to his picky eating ways anymore, and will start eating what is offered.

This is a very difficult task for most parents, who can’t stand the thought of their child going to bed without a good meal in his tummy. However, if you continue to give in and provide an alternate meal, you will encourage him to continue demanding something else and leave you cooking several meals to please everyone. It isn’t easy, but it will teach your child a valuable lesson.

There is Room for Compromise

Even with your stance on no longer playing the short order cook for your toddler, you can still make some concessions to provide meals she is more likely to find appetizing. Before you prepare dinner, talk to your toddler about what she would like to eat. The answer might consistently be “macaroni and cheese”, but there are even ways to work with that. Try serving a baked casserole of cauliflower and cheese or mixing a vegetable in with a homemade batch of macaroni and cheese for a healthier version than what comes from a box. You can also serve the requested food as a side dish. Once your toddler starts eating, she will be more likely to move on to the other foods on her plate after she has satisfied her craving for the cheesy stuff. It won’t always work, but at least it will get her to the table and eating without demanding something else.

Casseroles are a good option for picky eaters because they combine healthier foods with the ones toddlers love, such as pasta and cheese. Mix one up in a tomato sauce and she might not even notice the vegetables.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with a picky eater is to keep offering healthy foods. If you remove those foods from the menu, you encourage the picky eating habits to continue and set your child up for a lifetime of poor nutrition.

By finding some common ground but continuing to offer a balanced children diet, you give your child the message that healthy eating is important to you and you aren’t going to give up. Even if it takes her a long time to give those foods a try, at least you will know you didn’t give up, or give in.

Eating Out with Baby: Tips for Less Stress

When you first bring your baby to a restaurant at a young age, chances are she will simply fall asleep in her car seat while you eat. But as baby grows, dining out can become a bigger hassle than it’s worth. If you don’t want to give up on restaurant dining, you can still enjoy a meal out without major stress if you go prepared and make a few adjustments to your usual routine.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

Unfortunately, now that you are a parent, some restaurants are probably not a good choice unless you leave the baby at home with a sitter. While most restaurants are somewhat child-friendly and offer high chairs, there are some choices that are better than others. You have every right to have your child in a restaurant, but just as you would expect consideration from other diners, you need to give the same consideration.

Choose a restaurant where you won’t be the only one with a child and aren’t likely to disturb anyone attempting to have a quiet night out. With plenty of family restaurants in all types of cuisine available to choose from, it’s not hard to find a place where your baby will be welcome even if she is a bit on the noisy side.

Restaurants that are accustomed to serving families will also have staff prepared for the special pleasure of having a baby at the table. They will have plenty of high chairs, not mind a little mess, and even offer entertainment options for little ones such as crayons.

Feed Baby First

Depending on how old your baby is, odds are you won’t be ordering baby food from the menu, so there is no real reason for her to wait to eat. When you are seated and have placed your order, go ahead and feed your baby so that she won’t be hungry and therefore fussy. If you are ordering something off the menu for baby, put the order in as soon as you arrive and request that they bring it out as soon as it’s ready.

Reserve some small finger foods or snacks to offer to baby while you are eating in order to keep her occupied, but offer the bulk of her meal early on so that she will be full and satisfied.

Keep Baby Entertained

Showing up at a restaurant without anything to occupy your baby is a recipe for disaster. Keep a variety of toys on hand so that you can dole them out slowly as they are needed. Toys that can be attached to the high chair or table to avoid having to pick them up from the floor repeatedly are a good idea. Keep some toys that are only for eating out so that your baby will be excited to see them and they aren’t old news. It might mean carrying a lot of stuff around, but if the payoff is a relatively peaceful meal, it’s well worth it.

Remember that eating out with a baby will never be quite the same experience that it was before you became a parent. It’s a little more rushed, a little louder and a little messier than it was before. You can still enjoy eating at a restaurant, however, if you go in prepared and are able to take a little chaos in stride.

Kids and Changing Food Favorites

One day, he couldn’t care less about bananas, and then all of a sudden he wants to eat them all day, every day. And then as suddenly as it started, it ends and bananas are no longer welcome. Does this sound familiar? It’s not at all uncommon.

Children often go on short-lived jags where a particular food is their absolute favorite thing in the world. For a while, it seems they just can’t get enough, and then they move on. The same foods may come and go, or it might be a new food every time. While these food jags aren’t normally problematic, there are a few potential issues to be on the lookout for.

Too Much of a Good Thing

If your child has decided that a certain fruit, such as grapes, are the top food of the day, you might be pleased that he is eating something healthy without any sort of prodding whatsoever. Certainly it’s one of the better choices for a food obsession, but it is possible to have too much of even a healthy food.

Certain foods when eaten in large quantities can be detrimental to a child’s health. They may cause diarrhea or the opposite, constipation, or simply gas. On the worse end of the scale, it is actually possible to get too much of certain vitamins, which can wind up causing health problems. There are good reasons why nutrition experts recommend a balanced and varied children diet, and eating too much of one food is only one of them.

Missing Out on Other Foods

When your child decides that one particular food is the only thing she is interested in eating, she may give up on eating other important foods in favor of her current pick. Even if she has decided she wants to eat nothing but broccoli, she needs more than what this admittedly very healthy food can provide. Eating all types of different foods from all of the food groups is necessary to keep the body healthy, energetic and strong.

If your child is on a food jag, don’t deny the food, but consider offering it as a secondary choice after she finishes the other foods on her plate. She needs to get the right nutrition, especially when she is growing and developing so rapidly, so make an effort to get around the food jag and get other options into your kid’s diet.

An Unhealthy Obsession

Most kids would rather eat chocolate than vegetables, but going on a junk food jag is never a good idea. While it’s ok to ride out an obsession with a healthier food, if your child suddenly decides she is eating nothing but French fries you will have to step in and put an end to it. Luckily, most food jags tend to involve relatively healthy foods most parents wouldn’t hesitate to allow their child to eat.

Most of these food kicks won’t last for a long enough period of time to do any real damage to your child’s health, and as long as the food in question provides nutrition without a lot of empty calories, it’s generally ok to let it go. Keep an eye out for any signs of a problem, however, and continue to encourage your child to try other foods and move away from the favorite a little bit. It’s likely the jag will end on its own before it can be a problem, but vigilance is always a good idea.

The Difference Between Colic and Fussiness

Every baby cries at some point, but some seem to cry more often and for longer periods than others. At some point, you may wonder if your baby is merely fussy, or if you are dealing with colic. There are a few distinctions that can help to clarify the issue.

Defining Colic and Fussiness

Doctors define colic as intense periods of crying that last for at least three hours at a time, three or more days a week, for a period of time of at least three weeks in duration. Colic is diagnosed when the baby is otherwise healthy, well-fed, and shows no signs of illness or other problems that might explain the crying.

Fussiness is a little more difficult to define, as there is no medical definition for it, and it really isn’t considered a condition. Fussy babies are generally more sensitive than other babies and may cry more often or take longer to soothe than most babies. Most fussiness isn’t caused by a medical condition either, but illness can cause a fussy baby to be even more difficult to calm or console.

The difference is generally in the duration and regularity of the crying. A baby with colic will usually cry at the same time of day, begin crying out of nowhere, and cry for a long period of time. Fussy babies cry randomly, and may have short burst of crying or longer periods. There may be an obvious reason for fussy behavior, or it may be difficult to tell what the reason is for the crying.

Determining Between Colic and Fussiness

If your baby cries more than three hours a day several days a week for many weeks straight, you are most likely dealing with colic. You should see your baby’s pediatrician to rule out other causes of the crying and confirm the diagnosis. If the crying is less often and less persistent, it is likely your baby is fussy but not colicky.

While colicky babies don’t often respond to traditional methods of soothing, fussy babies are more likely to be soothed with common tricks. It may require more effort and more persistence, however, and you might need to try a lot of different options to see what works for your baby.

Fussy babies tend to cry fairly frequently and are upset easily, but the crying doesn’t usually go on for hours the way it does with colic. Although it may seem like your baby is crying an awful lot, keeping track of how long crying spells actually last will make it easier to determine whether or not colic is actually a possibility. A fussy baby may cry many more time per day than a colicky baby, but the colicky baby’s crying will last much longer at a spell. Fussiness doesn’t usually follow a pattern the way colic does, and a fussy baby will cry at any time of day for difficult but not always impossible to determine reasons.

Keeping track of your baby’s crying habits is a good method of figuring out whether your baby has colic or is fussy. Write down when the crying started, how long it lasted, what caused it to stop (if it was anything obvious) and what soothing methods you tried. If you take your baby to the doctor, this record will also help the doctor to determine what is going on.

Colic: What it is and What to do

The very word colic is enough to raise fear in the hearts of mothers everywhere. Even if you have not had a colicky baby yourself, chances are you have heard the tales from other mothers of endless crying, sleepless nights, and failure after failure to soothe the baby. All babies are a challenge and can cry for long periods of time for no apparent reason, but a baby with colic is a different story altogether.

What is Colic?

The basic definition of colic is a baby who is healthy and well-fed, but screams or cries inconsolably for at least three hours a day, three days a week, for an extended period of time, generally a minimum of three weeks. If your baby fits this description, colic is likely. Unlike the crying of a normal baby, a colicky baby has no apparent reason, at least none that the parents or doctor can uncover, for the crying. This can cause parents a great deal of frustration; as every mother and father knows, there is nothing worse than being unable to provide comfort to your child.

Colicky babies usually have their spells of crying at the same time of the day, and the crying is usually very intense and high-pitched. Colic-related crying seems to start out of nowhere, and you may notice changes in baby’s posture such as clenched fists and tense muscles. A colicky baby will often cry so hard as to cause a flushed face and heavy breathing.

What to Do If You Suspect Colic

If your baby is having intense crying spells lasting for hours on a regular basis, and you can find no cause for the crying, you probably are facing colic. It’s a good idea to see your baby’s doctor to rule out other possible causes of the crying that might not be readily visible to you, such as ear infection or reflux. Your doctor will perform an examination and if nothing is found, you will likely be given a diagnosis of colic.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis really means that there is not much the doctor can offer by way of assistance. Unlike reflux or infections, there is currently no medical treatment for colic, mainly because no one really knows what causes it. There are some things you can try at home, however, to improve the situation.

Soothing a Colicky Baby

You may feel that you have tried everything to soothe your baby without any success, but that doesn’t mean you should give up trying. Sometimes it will take a great deal of trial and error to find what works for your baby, and different soothing techniques may help at different times, so try things again that may have failed in the past. At the very least, you will feel like you are doing something for baby.

Colicky babies may be soothed by motion, so try a swing or taking your baby for a ride in the car. You can also rock the baby in your arms, although this may become tiring after a while – it is worth it for some peace and quiet. Some colicky babies will also respond to being swaddled, as they feel more secure that way.

If nothing else works, you might have to ride out the storm. The good news is, babies usually outgrow colic by about 3 months old, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Take turns handling the worst of the colic episodes so that no one reaches the end of their patience. Colic can be very trying, but it will end eventually.

Babies and Honey

Although it’s a great natural sweetener and can be a healthy part of a balanced baby diet, babies under one year old should not be given honey. It can pose a serious health risk, so be sure to wait until after your baby’s first birthday to introduce it.

Honey and Infant Botulism

The risk to your child’s health and even life from giving honey under the age of one is a very real one. Honey is known to contain botulism spores, which when swallowed by a grown person will have little to no effect on the body. In a baby however, whose digestive system is still immature, botulism spores can produce a lethal toxin capable of killing within minutes. This incredibly dangerous toxin paralyzes the muscles used for breathing, and it can happen so fast there is barely time to react. Luckily, most cases of infant botulism are much milder and can be caught in time to treat the problem. But for those cases that go undiagnosed or occur very quickly, the results can be tragic. As the signs of the early stages of botulism are often misdiagnosed, it really isn’t worth taking the chance.

Honey is not the only source of botulism, it also appears in dust and dirt – but your baby is far more likely to contract infant botulism from honey than from any other source. No matter what type of honey the risk is still very high, so avoid it entirely throughout the first year of life, until your baby’s digestive system becomes strong enough to prevent the spores from germinating into the toxin. After your baby’s first birthday, you can start to add honey to the menu, either as a sweetener or as a natural treatment for minor ailments.

Most serious cases of infant botulism occur in the first six months of life, but until one year old there is still a risk, so steer clear of it until baby is a full 12 months old.

The Health Benefits of Honey

After a year old, there are a number of uses for honey that can be beneficial to your baby. Research has uncovered amazing attributes that make honey one of the healthiest and most powerful natural substances around. Honey is a powerful antibiotic and also helps to heal wounds and burns.

With the recent recall of all cold and flu medications off pharmacy shelves for kids under 6, honey has become one of the few remedies left to parents looking to treat a cough in a child. A spoonful of honey will soothe the throat and help to suppress a cough. The new research shows that it is a very effective treatment for a cough in children, even more effective than those drugs that are no longer considered safe for children. Once your baby is old enough, this natural treatment will help a little one with a cough get a good night’s rest and feel much better the next day.

As your child grows, honey can be a wonderful and healthy way to include a treat in with a treatment – it tastes great, is all natural, and can help treat everything from yeast infections to the common cold. As long as you wait until the danger of infant botulism has passed, you can use honey for all its natural power and sweetness with your child.

Getting Some Energy Back After Baby is Born

You’re holding your new baby in your arms and can hardly believe that they are here. After nine long months of pregnancy and however long it took to conceive, your little bundle of joy is finally here. It’s a miracle and something that’s just so amazing to absorb for most new moms.

The miracle of life is something that can’t be replicated in anything else, and therefore we cling to it with the birth of our child. Therefore we are filled with a plethora of emotions, all of pure joy, right? If you are feeling a bit less than joyful as you are experiencing what it’s like to have many sleepless nights, then you’re not alone.

Though your lack of energy likely doesn’t take away any of the joy that you feel, you are probably feeling simply exhausted. This is a stage that many new parents go through and it’s a normal and natural part of the cycle. Knowing how to get some much needed energy back can help you to feel more like yourself again.

Take Advantage of Help When You Get It

If you are breastfeeding then you may feel as though you never have a break. You may feel as though your entire existence is based on feeding and caring for that little darling – and it is! If you are bottle feeding, then you may have a bit more of a break. You may be able to trade off feedings with your partner or a close family member that can help out a bit.

No matter what you are doing for feedings or how you are caring for your baby, you do want to take people up on the offer to help. If people offer to help with simple chores around the house, run errands for you, or make you dinner, then let them. This can result in you having a bit more time to relax or at least not have to worry about the many things that need to be done. This is a simple enough way to get some energy back and allows you to enjoy your new baby and a bit of freedom.

Along the same lines comes the notion of resting when the baby rests. Until the baby gets on any sort of schedule, this can be tough. It can also be difficult if you have another child at home. However even the notion of a mini nap of twenty minutes here and there can be of great help. Resting and putting your feet up if nothing else is always a great way to regain some of that much needed energy. Whatever you can do to rest your body and take care of yourself will pay you back in dividends.

Eat Right and Exercise

If you really want to ensure that you get your energy back, then you may have to expend a bit of energy. Though this does sound counterintuitive, it really can work. It may not be something that you can do in the baby’s first couple of days, but is something that you should look to whenever necessary. So consider eating the right foods, that is a well balanced diet to give you nutrients and of course energy.

You also want to start to incorporate exercise whenever possible. This can be something as simple as putting the baby in the stroller and taking it out for a walk, but it gets you moving. Though this may not sound desirable, it can really help you to regain some energy and feel more like yourself again in no time.

Looking For and Building Up Fine Motor Skills In Your Baby

There’s just so much to take in throughout baby’s first years. They will change so much from month to month that you may even feel as though you don’t recognize your little one on certain days. They grow leaps and bounds just within a given week. They accumulate new skills and traits all the time, leaving you marveling at all that they can do.

It seems that almost overnight your little newborn baby who is more of a blob than anything else turns into this charismatic little person that has more personality than you can believe. Babies are truly marvelous in all that they accomplish, and many of these milestones happen right in front of our very eyes. When it comes to fine motor skills, this is something that you want to be tuned into in terms of your baby’s development. You want to be on the lookout for it and you want to help foster and develop it as a parent, as it will provide great benefits later on.

What Can You Look For?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that this is not something that you want to force. You don’t want to push your baby as they won’t reach any milestones until they are ready. If you push too hard you may get the opposite reaction. However, you do want to keep tuned into their fine motor skills as this is something that they will utilize their whole life through. See if baby is reaching for things, grabbing for items, sucking on her hand, or discovering things such as their own body parts. These are all good examples and exhibit a sense of fine motor skills that are rather important for baby’s development. These are important to ensure that they keep on track, and they are actually things that you can facilitate on your own.

You want to watch for these things in the first few months of your baby’s development. By five months as an average, baby should be trying to reach for things or at least be interested in things. It may take some time and encouragement from you as a parent, but the simple act of reaching or grabbing is a great sign that baby is doing what they are supposed to do. Every baby will work on their own timetable as some babies start grabbing or reaching far sooner. Others may skip over this phase and then move onto the next. This all shows possible coordination and shows that baby understands what to do to get what they want. All of these things are important for fine motor skills and the development of your baby overall.

How Can You Facilitate It?

This doesn’t mean that you should be shaking a rattle in front of your newborn relentlessly every day. It does mean though that as your baby grows and shows signs of readiness, that you are on the floor playing and interacting with them. Introduce different toys such as puzzles and different colors of toys. Things that are interesting to them will help them to reach and grab, and eventually pull items towards them. The point is that you as a parent can set up an environment that doesn’t force but encourages your baby to develop these skills and build upon them as they get older.

Preparing For and Understanding Baby’s First Words

Many parents look at their baby’s content little faces as they sleep and wonder what’s next. There are so many different milestones to look forward to as a parent. As you make it through the first year of baby’s life, there is much to work towards and much to enjoy. You want to be sure that you enjoy every moment, even the little ones. You also want to know what you have to look forward to. It may almost feel like a race sometimes – you make it through one milestone and enjoy it, wondering what will be next. This is a common sentiment amongst new parents, particularly as they await some of the larger milestones. One of the biggies is by far hearing baby’s first words, and it’s an exciting one. So what can you expect in terms of baby’s first words?

Detecting Baby’s First Words

The reality is that baby’s very first words may be a bunch of jumble. If you look at this chart for example, you see that baby’s first words change and evolve as they grow older. At three months they will be rambling or just responding to the sound of your voice. By six months however, that may be turning into a limited and somewhat difficult to decipher vocabulary.

As with any other milestone it is important to note that there is no real set time limit to encounter these things. So before you set yourself or your baby up for unrealistic expectations, know that it will all come in time. Sure if your baby isn’t saying anything as they near their second birthday, then it’s time for some outside help. However up until then enjoy their sounds as they prepare to utter those first words.

How Can You Get Them Talking?

Though it’s all likely to happen in its own due time, the reality is that there are certain and very simple things that you can do to get them talking. Baby’s first words are likely to be very simple one-syllable words that they can easily utter. The reason that many babies utter “dada” first is that it comes off of their tongue so easily. Whereas “mama” requires more pronunciation that their little mouths aren’t really ready for. So while this may serve as a disappointment to moms everywhere, this is why the first word is often “dada” or even something else – it’s not due to lack of love or appreciation.

What you can do to help the language along is to talk to them. Many parents find that talking to their babies as they move about their day can help to properly prepare them for the words that they will say. Tell them what you are doing as you are doing it, even the simple things. Have a conversation with your little one as they will be fascinating by the sound of your voice and seem interested in what you have to say to them. You can also get them talking if you show them toys or pictures of things and then tell them what it is. This is a more educational type of play, and it does wonders for developing a baby’s vocabulary. It may not mean that they start uttering words tomorrow, but it will most certainly work towards their overall development and vocabulary moving forward.

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