sleep concerns, Fussiness, colic,
Baby's sleep concerns
When, where and how baby sleeps
is a hot topic. Everyone has an opinion as to what is best for mother
and baby. It is important to remember when considering these issues
that "what is important" is important only as it relates
to *you* - in other words, what is important to some, is not important
to others, and it's really nobody's business "how" (or
where & when) you & baby sleep! "Crying
it out" isn't an option for many parents and luckily, it
doesn't *have* to be. There are many options to the "cry it
out" method which are not as harsh and which provide parents
and babies with loving, gentler solutions to getting more sleep.
Most breastfeeding experts encourage mother to co-sleep with
her infant. Some frown on co-sleeping, but experts like Dr.
Williams Sears, father of 8 breastfed children, put it
simply, indicating that "the best investment new parents
can make, is a bigger bed", and supports co-sleeping.
He offers wonderful information on sleep
concerns, that can really help a parent understand "how"
a baby sleeps as well as ideas to help reduce or eliminate
Dr. Jay Gordon,
pediatrician says "...Don't let anyone
convince you that this is a harmful choice or that there will
be "no way" to get him out of your bed if you don't
do it now. Don't believe anyone who says that babies who cuddle
and nurse all night long "never" learn to self soothe
or become independent. This is simply not true but it sells
books and the myths stay in our culture." and Dr.
James McKenna, PhD, says " By sleeping next to it's
mother, the infant receives protection, warmth, emotional
reassurance, and breastmilk - in just the forms and quantities
that nature intended."
to sleep and sleeping
all night are also hot topics. There are many out there that
would have a mother believe she is creating problems for herself
and her baby by doing what comes naturally - hopefully the information
here and the links to additional info, will assure the mother that
her choice to co-sleep, to nurse baby to sleep, and/or to comfort
nurse baby are all choices that are supported and encouraged by
experts and many, many parents.
Young babies, both breast and formula fed, are often fussy.
It is not unusual for this to happen during the late afternoon and
evenings, and is usually NOT due to hunger, wet/dirty diaper,
or anything that mom or dad can fix. It is usually NOT related to
milk supply, although some mothers may worry about this.
One of the best explanations of normal infant fussiness is
shared here with permission from Kathy
S. Kuhn RN BSN IBCLC and lactation consultant for Parentsplace.com:
Normal infant fussiness starts at about 1-3 weeks,
peaks at about 6-8 weeks and is gone by about 3-4 months.
Most babies will "fuss" about 2-4 hours per day,
no matter what you do. They want to be "in arms"
or at the breast very frequently and fuss even though you
attempt to calm them. They often seem "unsatisfied"
with their feedings and even seem to reject or cry at the
It most commonly happens in the evening hours, and usually
the baby will take their longest stretch of sleep after this
fussy time. The best thing to do is offer the breast as much
as the baby wants it. If she fusses at the breast try to calm
her in other ways such as "dancing" with her, gentle
bouncing and rocking, and just giving big doses of TLC. You
can tell it is normal fussiness if it occurs about the same
time each day, if your baby has other times of the day when
feedings are calm and she seems happy, and if she is growing
and gaining well per her pediatrician and having plenty of
wet and soiled diapers.
Many times during a baby's
fussy time they will refuse the breast. After several frustrating
attempts at nursing, the parents may "break down" and
offer a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula thinking that
the fussiness is related to low supply or something wrong with mom's
gives a better understanding of this particular concern here, as
well as explaining what happens when baby is offered a bottle and
"guzzles" it down:
Parents who don't know this is "normal"
frequently respond as you did by giving a bottle because they
think the baby isn't "happy or satisfied" with the
breast. When the bottle goes in the baby's mouth the mouth
fills with milk, the baby is obligated to swallow and the
action of swallowing initiates another suck. The suck again
fills the mouth and the cycle repeats, giving an appearance
of the baby "gulping the bottle down hungrily".
This of course only contributes to mom and dad's fear that
the baby wasn't getting enough at the breast and they keep
offering more and more bottles (understandably). Which then
causes a true low milk supply. Often the baby falls asleep
peacefully after this episode which also reinforces to the
parents that the bottle was just what the baby needed. What
has really happened is the baby has by coincidence come to
the natural conclusion of the fussy spell (most parents give
the bottle as a last resort which means the fussiness has
been going on for awhile) and/or the baby has withdrawn because
"gulping" down the bottle was actually stressful
and NOT what the baby wanted but she could not stop the flow,
so exhausted, she falls asleep. So don't offer bottles during
any fussy time.
COLIC AND THE BREASTFED BABY
Colic is usually defined as sudden and unexplained outbursts
of inconsolable crying. According to Dr William Sears, in
The Baby Book, "if you wonder whether or not you have
a colicky baby - you don't!"
Colic results in at least three hours a day, three days per
week, for at least three weeks of inconsolable crying. It
usually begins in the first three weeks of life and seldom
lasts longer than 3 months. The baby is often healthy and
You may hear any or all of the following:
"It must be your milk, its....":
- too weak
- something you are eating
- too strong
- you feed him too much
- you're not feeding him enough
- you hold him too much
- you don't hold him enough
... it can be frustrating for mom and dad to try to figure
out what is going on.
There are many myths as to what may cause colic, which science
has (thankfully) offered some info to either support or dispel,
and many folk remedies to treat it (be careful with these!). Too
often ALL segments of crying are labeled as colic, and it may take
some good detective work to determine if it is "true colic"
or a result of something else. Dr Jack Newman's page
on colic is an excellent starting place. Additional information
can be found at Dr.
Sears website and Dr.
Jay Gordon's website.
BREASTFEEDING AND REFLUX
Many parents have never heard of reflux. Reflux,
or GER (Gastroesophageal reflux) is a condition where irritating
stomach acides are regurgitated into the esophagus, causing
pain similar to adult heartburn. It usually occurs more when
the baby is lying flat, and is often marked by frequent and/or
excessive spitting up. It can be a hidden cause of colicky
and night waking babies.
Babies that experience frequent (and often forceful) spitting
up, obvious tummy pain day & night, marked fussiness after
nursing (drawing up legs, knees to chest), arching or writhing
as if in pain, extreme fussiness and crying may be experiencing
reflux. A baby may experience all, or only some of the above
symptoms. It is important to talk to your health care provider
if you suspect your baby may have reflux, and to eliminate
other issues which may "mock" the symptoms
of reflux, like oversupply and food sensitivity (dairy).
Also remember that breastfeeding a baby with reflux is one
of the best things you can do to help!