Here’s a big challenge for new dads: calming a fussy baby.
Okay, dad, I’m gonna cut to the chase: From time to time, that perfect little baby you brought home from the hospital is going to push you to the limit emotionally.
Maybe you’ve already experienced this … it’s the middle of the night and your baby just won’t stop screaming, no matter what you do. Or maybe your wife runs out to do some errands, and your baby starts (but won’t stop) crying.
The noise, the stress, the worry involved with crying babies creates a sense of urgency. And sometimes dads—especially first-time dads—lose their cool when trying to calm a fussy baby.
But dad, I’ve got news for you … Get used to it! That kid of yours is always going to test your limits. And your kids’ needs will probably never be convenient for you, no matter how old they are. Being a dad means “manning up” after a long day, or when you are right in the middle of watching your favorite news show. You’re on “daddy duty” early in the morning and late at night.
So I know this might sound silly at first, but having a checklist for calming a fussy baby can help you keep your cool when baby is all riled up.
Checklist: Calming a Fussy Baby
- Check the baby’s diaper, even if you just changed it. One of my colleagues told me that newborns need their diapers changed an average of 17 times a day! A baby’s bladder is barely the size of a marble, so don’t be surprised if that dry diaper is wet just a few minutes later.
- Try giving your baby a bottle.
- Burp your baby. And keep in mind that sometimes it takes five or even ten minutes before the air will come out, so be patient and gentle.
- Swaddle and lightly sway your baby back and forth while singing a lullaby. This will have the added benefit of calming you down.
- If you have a baby swing or a vibrating bouncy seat, give it a shot. Some kids will quiet right down after just a couple of minutes.
- Buckle baby into the car seat, and go for a drive. Some parents swear that this technique is the only thing that calms their fussy babies. Other dads say: Turn on the dryer, and then put baby (buckled into a car seat) on top. Of course, if you use this method, stay right there to make sure the vibrating dryer doesn’t move the car seat off the dryer!
- Take your baby out for a walk, carrying her in your arms or pushing her in a stroller. Sometimes fresh air does wonders for a baby’s mood—and a dad’s.
- If nothing works and you start feeling frustrated, put your baby in the crib, and leave the room for two or three minutes. The truth of the matter is, sometimes nothing on your checklist will work. So simply walk away, and find ways to regroup. Do some pushups, or say a quick prayer. Then go back, pick up your baby, and start running down your checklist again.
One last thing … before you print out this checklist, ask your wife if there’s anything you should modify. Moms tend to be the ones who spend the most time comforting their babies, so she might have a few tricks up her sleeve that will help you learn about calming a fussy baby!
What other ideas work for you? Please share them on Facebook.
– Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Gary Greenberg & Jeannie Hayden
– Hit the Ground Crawling: Lessons From 150,000 New Fathers by Greg Bishop
– Crouching Father, Hidden Toddler: A Zen Guide for New Dads by C. W. Nevius