The sound of your baby crying – at any time of the day but especially at night – can make you stressed and anxious. However, it’s good to remember that you’re not alone – newborns getting fussy at night is a common phenomenon, thus having led to many solutions for the same! But before you delve into the tricks of calming down a fussy baby, you must understand what makes babies fussy at night. While the hours may vary, it generally refers to a few hours of continuous crying or fussing, sometime in the late evening or in the wee hours of the morning (between 3 AM – 4 AM), thus earning the name of the “witching hour”. Let’s understand a bit more about why babies get fussy at night!
Growth Spurt Hunger
During the ages of 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months, babies undergo a growth spurt, which results in cluster feeding. In the late evenings, breastfeeding mothers may also be on the lower side of milk supply, thus resulting in partially hungry babies. And this is the time they may need to feed more often, thus earning the term cluster feeding.
Another leading cause of fussiness among babies at night is due to the formation of gas. Feeding too fast, gas inducing foods in the mother’s diet etc. can cause gas formation in the baby which can cause discomfort. They may be trying to expel the same and you can notice this by observing if their faces show visible signs of pushing or if their legs are pulled towards the stomach.
Digestive problems can also lead to colic pain in babies, thus making them fussy for hours. If they have colic, they will likely be uncomfortable for hours during the night.
Yes, there is such a thing as an overtired baby – although it may seem not as plausible. As babies need aid in falling asleep and the right ambience – many things can keep them up. Another common belief is that keeping a baby awake for a longer time can lead to deeper and longer naps later at night. However, this will only make your baby overtired and fussy, as they may struggle to fall asleep during this stage.
A baby’s nervous system is not as developed as adults and they are more sensitive to stimulants like lights, sounds and movement. Loud noises, too much movement around the baby and even too many bright lights can overstimulate the baby and overwhelm them. This sensation can be uncomfortable for them and make it difficult for them to fall asleep.
Wetness in diaper
If their diaper is not very absorbent, it can feel wet on the baby’s skin, causing them discomfort. These wet diapers can also cause rashes and skin irritation thus making the baby fussy.
What can you do to calm a fussy baby?
Fortunately, there are some ways to calm down a fussy baby during the night. Simply follow these tips to ensure that your baby is comfortable at all times. Even if they are fussy, you can use these tips to calm them down:
- Feed more during growth spurts: Look for signs of hunger and feed your baby a little more during the late evening to make sure that their tummy is full before they fall asleep.
- Reduce the stimulants: Dim the lights, reduce the noise and swaddle your baby to calm their mind and help them relax. This can also help them sleep better.
- Massage & bathtime: A lukewarm bath or a massage can also help calm your baby – the skin-to-skin touch is a great way to relax your baby. You can include this in the nighttime routine for better sleep.
- Baby wearing: Wearing your baby or carrying them in your arms and holding them close can help calm them down. Baby wearing also keeps them warm and comfortable.
- Avoid spicy food: Caffeine, oily foods, excess sugar etc. can cause colic and gas in babies so it’s best to avoid these if you are breastfeeding your baby.
- Burp after feeding: Hold your baby upright on your chest and rub your palms on their back – from bottom to top – this can help release any extra air that may have gone in during the feed. This burping technique can help reduce and release gas in babies.
- Choose an absorbent diaper: An absorbent diaper like MamyPoko Pants can help keep your baby dry through the night, and thus reduce fussiness.
- Bicycle legs: Bicycle legs or holding up their little legs over the stomach can help gas expulsion, thus easing the discomfort.
- Consult your doctor: If your baby is still uncomfortable or uneasy and fussy, consult your doctor for medication for gas and colic.
Usually fussiness in babies at night goes away by the time they are 3-4 months of age, so keep your spirits and hopes up!