Newborn babies are cute and cuddly. They want to be held, and you want to hold them. But there will be times as a new parent in the first year that you need to put your baby down. You might want to hold your baby 24/7, but sometimes, you have to walk away to grab something you need.
What if your baby cries the moment you put them down? The answer to this depends on your baby’s age. The amount of time your baby needs to be held will change throughout the first year.
There are many common reasons for a fussy baby, so let’s look at why babies might cry at certain stages and what parents might be able to do to help soothe them.
The Fourth Trimester: What You Need To Know
In the early months, you will spend much of your time cuddling and swaddling your sleepy newborn baby. For a newborn baby, the first three months of life outside the womb is a big adjustment.
Some pediatricians call this the fourth trimester because they believe that, if babies could, they would choose to stay in the womb. Newborns sleep most of the time in the fourth trimester — for roughly 14 to 17 hours of every 24 hours.
In these early months, babies between one and three months old might be fussy when they are not held or swaddled. Swaddling is one way to help babies feel emotionally secure, but make sure to follow safe sleeping practices in regards to swaddling.
Check If It’s Colic
If your baby seems to suffer from extreme fussiness and excessive crying, your baby might have colic. Pediatrics identifies a baby as suffering from colic if they cry for three hours or more in a day, for multiple days in a week, for multiple weeks in a row.
Speak to your healthcare provider if you think your baby is experiencing this. However, this generally affects babies in the first six weeks. It should naturally decline between four and six months old.
Try Some Skin-to-Skin Contact
Babies need and thrive from skin-on-skin contact with their parents. Skin-to-skin contact helps babies relax, regulate their body temperature, and form secure attachments.
Being held and touched is how babies know they are not alone, that you’re there with them, and you aren’t going to leave them.
After all, babies rely on their parents for everything they need to survive. When we walk away, babies struggle to understand where we have gone. Without object permanence, babies believe that when objects leave their sight, the departure is permanent. Babies may then cry in distress.
Even the warmth of your body temperature assures your baby that you are near. When you put your baby down, the crib or playpen might feel chilly. Your baby may have been asleep in your arms, but as soon as they feel the cold, they realize you’re gone and start to cry.
Newborn vision is not strong — another way babies know their parents are nearby is by smell. That’s right: babies can identify mothers and fathers by their unique scents but may find it easier to figure out who Mom is first.
Babies learn their mother’s smell in the womb through her amniotic fluid. This is the first scent they experience, and this helps babies learn to recognize their mother. Your baby knows your scent, especially the scent of mom’s breastmilk, which is why they want to snuggle securely near your chest.
Skin-to-Skin Contact: How To Do It
Holding, cuddling, kissing, bouncing, and practicing skin-to-skin contact are all ways you can meet your baby’s biological needs.
Here’s how skin-to-skin contact works:
- Take off your shirt and settle down in a comfortable spot.
- If your baby is wearing their Tabeeze, un-snap the fumble-free snaps at the shoulder and pull the onesie down feet first.
- Now that your baby is in their diaper, entirely naked, or sporting half their onesie, lay your baby on your chest — this is also a chance to work on tummy time.
- Relax and enjoy this moment of calm.
The Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit makes it easy for you to bond with your baby through skin-to-skin time.
Is It Separation Anxiety?
Even though many parents expect babies to start sleeping through the night around six months old, a growing baby’s understanding of the world might have other plans for your family.
The time from around six months to three years of age is a time of learning and increased comprehension of their surroundings. It’s also a development stage for babies when they might experience separation anxiety. This can result in sleep regression, disrupting all the hard work you’ve put into creating the perfect bedtime schedule.
As your baby’s awareness of object permanence and their surroundings grows, they might become anxious when you are not in the room or when new faces are around. Babies grow aware of how dependent they are on the adults in their lives, especially the primary caregivers they see the most.
This makes sense — parents often entrust their babies to caregivers around this time so that they can go back to work. Anxiety at this change is normal and natural and will likely fade over time.
Does Your Baby Seem Tired?
Some common reasons babies cry are that they’re hungry, sleeping, or going through a growth spurt.
They might also cry when overtired, and it can feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle: the more tired the baby is, the more they cry, and the more they need to sleep, but the crying keeps them awake.
Parents and caregivers often feel frustrated and at a loss at this point in the first year. You are tired from waking up throughout the night, and everyone in the house needs more sleep.
Note that other milestones can cause fussiness, such as teething, leading to more crying than you’re used to. However, these milestones are exciting — your baby is growing!
Creating a Sleep Schedule
After babies are old enough to sleep through the night without needing to eat, some parents try to encourage their babies by creating a nighttime routine and a reliable sleep schedule for their babies.
At this time, your baby has started to have their own circadian rhythms. While they still might wake up for a quick snack while snoozing, in general, babies will likely be more awake during the day and sleep more through the night by nine months.
If your baby doesn’t want to fall asleep and keeps crying when you try to put them down, ask your healthcare provider for some advice. They might recommend implementing a bedtime schedule.
A bedtime routine creates consistency for babies and continues to provide that safe, secure, and loving environment they need. These routines can include calming activities, such as giving your baby a warm bath, rocking in a rocking chair, and reading a book. (Sticking to a consistent bedtime will help these routines be effective.)
Teach Babies To Self-Soothe
Sleep training is said to teach babies how to self-soothe at this stage in their development. For a while, the cry-it-out method was a widely popular technique, but since then, childhood development experts have started to favor other methods.
Babies who go to bed with a full tummy and a clean diaper are more likely to have sweet dreams (and their parents are, too). Tools like white noise and pacifiers (for those who choose to use them) help babies learn to self-soothe.
Tabeeze Can Help!
The last thing you want to do when your baby is napping — or already fussy — is to disrupt their sense of calm with a chaotic or unconformable diaper change.
With our bottom-up design, you can dress your newborn infant while they’re drowsy or napping and not worry about waking them up. You can also foster skin-to-skin bonding more easily than with standard onesies.
Ultimately, babies will cry — it’s how they communicate, after all. But with some love, patience, guidance, and a well-stocked nursery, we can turn more of those frowns into toothless smiles.