Wish you had a TIMELINE for the most fussy weeks?
Many things have been written about fussy babies, and I say read it all and try everything! This post is more about planning for them and coping with them as parents, and less about how to fix a fussy baby. Because sometimes you can’t and you just have to COPE.
First of all, if you know your baby’s due date, you can plan accordingly for those peak fussy times and shore up your help during the more intense times. If you don’t know, or your babies were premature and you are in the grey zone, you can estimate a bit.
So here is what you do: Take your 40 week gestational due date and add 4-6 weeks to it. Circle that day on your calendar and know that your baby will likely begin to be MORE fussy during that time. If they aren’t, you can celebrate that you win in the newborn department!
(BTW Good news, they start responsively smiling during this time and I’m pretty sure it was built into the design of babies to smile right before they get WAY harder!)
One you have that date, mark the dates between week 6 and week 8 as the CHALLENGE dates. It might not be exactly those weeks, but sometime around that time, you will be glad you knew that this was coming and that it WASN’T YOUR FAULT. (Make sure that you are adjusting for prematurity, as these are brain weeks, not necessarily womb vs earth weeks.)
Now go in and mark week 7…for two reasons. In my mom’s group, we call week 7 “Hate your Husband Week” (or partner, or anyone you live with who goes back to work and leaves you alone with your baby). This is because things tend to hit the zenith of fussiness at that point, and couples tend to have a terrible week with each other trying to deal with a less consolable baby and all the transitions of not being able to relax in the evening, eat a meal, or get anything done but KEEP SOOTHING THE BABY.
Second reason to mark the calendar on week 7? For a trip. Usually couples feel comfortable traveling with their baby by then, and taking a weekend away is a great time to let go of the chores and just share the job of keeping baby happy while enjoying neutral territory and new surroundings. Try it. It helps. I know it can be pricey to get away, but…it’s for your sanity and your marriage!
Then just HANG IN THERE. Keep soothing as you find things that work. Meet your baby's needs. Meet your own needs. Nose to the grindstone--with adorable baby snuggles in between--hang on and know that it will change quickly. I promise. No really, I promise.
Now mark weeks 10, 12 and 15. Week 10 is for the downhill mark. Usually by week 10, babies are less fussy, start going to bed earlier, and become more peaceful little creatures. Plan for it. Tell yourself it is coming whether you ‘fix it’ or not. Know that you can get there…even when it is really hard, tell yourself that you will make it to week 10.
Put week 12 on your calendar for the bottom swing of the crying curve. This will mark the time when things should get easier. If they are not, adjust for prematurity and then reassess. If they are still not, check in with your pediatrician, postpartum doula, or another baby-related practitioner/expert who might help suggest some things that could help.
Weeks 12-15 should be more about FUN. This is the time to enjoy that baby that has begun the shift from brain stem (reflex driven) to cognitive brain (thought and reaction driven) which means they operate more like big people and are much easier to interpret! If this stage isn’t more fun, there could be something going on that is making baby uncomfortable that needs addressing.
Then you are through the crying curve! Yes, there will be times when baby gets their first cold, or stomach virus, or is teething, and you are up all night with a very unhappy baby. But this is just the stuff that parenting is made up of, and is not at all predictable. There is actual research on the crying curve being super challenging for parents, somewhat predictably, so this gives you a huge advantage to KNOW WHEN IT IS COMING.
My hope for this is that parents can help to plan and set up for the expected stages, AND to know that most parents go through questioning themselves, when indeed they are probably doing exactly what their baby needs at that stage. Knowledge means you can be ready, have helpers in place, and conquer those early weeks with a team to support you.
Plan on future blogs to cover getting that team together and when they should come for maximum enjoyment for all.
PS…Doulas are great at every stage! We help moms and dad, babies, siblings, and even pets to adjust when things are tough. And we can fold your laundry, run your dishes, and whip up a mean frittata or bake you some banana bread to make it all seem better in the meantime. In Portland or Seattle, call us at 503-752-1691 and we will set you up with awesome support!