Caring for an extremely fussy baby can be difficult, and it’s not uncommon for parents to make some critical mistakes. In this audio segment, certified postpartum Doula Michelle Chrastil discusses 2 common mistakes parents make with fussy babies.

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Fussy Baby Mistakes

QUESTION: In your experience, what are some mistakes that parents make when they’re trying to deal with fussy babies?

MICHELLE CHRASTIL: Well, I think one of the mistakes is, you know, obviously in terms of safety, you never want to shake a baby.  Shaken baby syndrome is something that can happen very easily.  And when a parent or a caregiver is starting to feel the anxiety of their child and the anxiety of not being able to soothe their child, we have a physical reaction to shake or to get upset.  So, to really be careful about shaking your baby and making sure you take the time to lay them down in their crib and walk away when you need a break.

fussy baby
When babies act fussy, some mothers prematurely assume their breast milk is the problem

INTERVIEWER:  Exactly.  That’s so important.  Even yelling, that’s something too that, you know, you feel that physical desire to just get angry.  You do, you need to just place them and walk away and just gather yourself.  Especially for single parents.  I mean, it’s difficult when you don’t have someone to kind of bounce the responsibility back and forth.  So I think that’s wonderful advice.

MICHELLE CHRASTIL:  Yes.  And one other thing that I would also mention that you don’t want to do is, a lot of the times when mothers who may be breastfeeding – in terms of when their baby starts to show signs of colic – they worry or they may get misinformation that maybe the baby is allergic to their milk, which is extremely rare.

Yes, some babies do have a sensitivity to milk products and sometimes have a sensitivity to breast milk.  But it’s extremely rare.  So I would suggest to not completely wean your child off of breastfeeding right away.  To really talk to your pediatrician and a lactation consultant and begin with some dietary adjustments before you completely stop the breastfeeding.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely.  I couldn’t agree with you more.  I breastfed both of my children.  My son was very colicky in the beginning and what I had to do was kind of what you just said, is reassess “What am I eating and what could possibly be causing his pain, his crying?”  And I found out that it was tomato products.  And I had to stop eating all kinds of spaghetti sauce and pizza.

But I’ll tell you it was wonderful because he could still, and I could still enjoy breastfeeding him.  And he could still get all the benefits from that.  And then the crying diminished and finally went away.  So I think that’s a wonderful thing is, don’t give up on breastfeeding.  Just try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Are there any foods that you can maybe throw out there now to new moms who are breastfeeding that they want to avoid?

MICHELLE CHRASTIL: Sure!  A breastfeeding mom really wants to watch out for eating too much of gas-causing foods.  If you’re going to try an elimination diet, you’re gonna want to start looking out for not eating too much garlic avoiding caffeine, broccoli, beans, and then of course, cow’s milk and other dairy products.  Those are all foods that infants can be sensitive.  As well as, like you mentioned, tomato sauce.  My daughter also had a real sensitivity to tomato sauce.

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