There are going to be days when bub just won’t settle and you’ll need to stay flexible and respond in the way they need you to. It's common for babies to have periods of unsettled behaviour and there are many reasons why they may be feeling this way. It's not always easy to know the cause but you might be able to work out what they need by listening to their cry and running through the following checklist;
1. Is my baby hungry and due for a feed? Think about where they are in their Sleep-Feed-Uptime Cycle.
2. Does my baby need a burp? Try holding bub upright and patting them on their back.
3. Does my baby have a wet or dirty nappy or do they have a rash?
4. Is my baby overtired? Think about where they are in their Sleep-Feed-Uptime Cycle.
5. Is my baby cold or too warm, or could they be uncomfortable in what they’re wearing? Check how warm or cold your baby is by feeling their back or tummy.
6. Is my baby feeling unwell? Always check to see whether they are showing any symptoms of being unwell or consider that something may be brewing. Check to see if they have a temperature and consider whether they’re teething or feeling some pain. Fever, ear infections, sore throats, UTIs, upset tummies are unpleasant for everyone, regardless of age. If you have any concerns about bub’s health don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your baby’s doctor.
7. Does bub need some attention and affection? Try holding bub in a cradle position, calmly rocking or bouncing.
If you’ve worked through the checklist, and also tried the settling methods we covered in lesson 12, and bub still isn’t settling you could try putting them in their pram or baby carrier and go for a walk, give them a calming warm bath, help them find their hand or dummy to suck on for self-soothing or give a gentle, whole body massage including around bub’s tummy.
On the rocky days, feel confident to do whatever you need to do to help bub feel better. It’s okay to be flexible with your routines and strategies if you need to. If bub needs you to cuddle or rock them to sleep, that’s fine. If you need to feed them to sleep that’s fine too. When bub is feeling more settled you can go back to your usual rhythm, routine, and strategies.
On the days when bub is more unsettled, remember they can sense how you’re feeling too. If you’re feeling frustrated or anxious, bub will pick up on it and it can make it even harder for them to settle. Giving yourself a chance to take a breathe for a few minutes by getting some fresh air or getting yourself a cup of tea, may help you to feel more recharged to continue helping bub to settle.
Always remember you’re not in this alone and there is always help available. Reach out to family, friends, your midwife or doctor, or one of the links on our Support Directory.