Routines Are Essential for Fussy Baby

Fussy babies are often infants who suffer from sensory overload – all of the time. These children have a hard time keeping their bodies and brain organized. Theirs are called “immature central nervous systems.” Fussy, irritable babies can be extremely sensitive to stimulation around them and react to sounds, touch, textures, light, rapidly moving people or objects and even tastes. That is, anything that involves the senses. You can build routines to help calm and organize baby, and allow her central nervous system to mature. An irritable baby will do best with lots of repetition in her day. An infant brain seeks out and calms to repetition. These babies require it.



Feed fussy babies within a regular routine. Stay as consistent as possible. Same person, same time, same place, same bottle or breast, same chair. Even if feeding does not appear to be a problem, you are setting her brain up to help her through the tough ones. You are also building trust.
See Feeding. >


Diaper changes can be a devastating experience for a child with heightened sensitivity. Swaddle her arms in midline and leave the blanket bottom open for the change. Use warm, wet cloths gently and talk her through the change.
See No Cry Diaper Changes. >


Tummy time three times a day, 20 minutes at a time is a great activity to build into the day. You may need to participate in it for her to remain calm. Stop when she is no longer happy. See Terrific Tummy Time. >


Let bedtime be the same time every night. Build your own routine something like this; Bath (dip her swaddled in a dish towel), big fluffy towel massage dry, diaper change with “this little piggy” foot massage. Then, ocean sound box, bottle or breast with Mommy in a chair by the bed, two classic board books (same ones every night), put baby in bed, say goodnight and I love you, and close the door.
See Bedtime Rocks >  and Soothing Baths. >



The reward for providing sensitive nurturing support for a fussy baby is that she can grow to calm herself and be less sensitive to her environment. She will be able to trust that you can manage what she cannot. This often happens around six months of age.


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