There can be nothing more distressing for you as a new mother than an irritable baby who cries and cries, no matter what you do. Self-doubt and inadequacy can plague you to the point that you’re crying almost as much as your baby.
If your baby is consistently fussy and irritable, there are a number of possible explanations for this that health practitioners generally give.
Some of these explanations you can do something about, and some you can’t. Certain babies seem to simply have a genetic tendency or natural temperament that leans toward fussiness.
But it’s important to not decide this is so for your baby before you attempt to determine if there are things you can do to ease your baby’s discomfort and pain.
Of course, the first thing to determine is if there is a disease or condition your baby is suffering from. A chronic earache, sore throat or respiratory infection you can’t readily detect can cause the baby to be irritable. Your pediatrician can help you with this. Also he will probably want to prescribe an antibiotic to see if it will help.
You need to decide as to whether you want to go this route or not. Some mothers are careful about giving antibiotics to their children unless it’s absolutely necessary. As antibiotics do not distinguish between beneficial, necessary bacteria and harmful bacteria. And the beneficial bacteria in your baby’s digestive tract can be seriously diminished with an antibiotic. Sometimes leading to digestive problems.
The alternative is to find herbal and homeopathic remedies from alternative health practitioners or health food stores that can be very effective against common infections, once they are diagnosed, and do not have negative side effects.
Most health practitioners determine that a baby’s irritability is due to a digestive problem. Commonly, this difficulty is termed “colic”. However, many health practitioners are now distinguishing between colic and reflux. And, in fact, they’re giving what used to called “colic” a new name: “silent reflux”.
What is Reflux and what does it have with an irritable baby?
Reflux occurs when the acid content of the stomach rises into the esophagus causing discomfort and burning. Understandably, this causes a baby to be very irritable. Babies with reflux raise their legs, arch their backs and/or cry inconsolably, especially around feeding time.
There are two types of reflux:
- Frank reflux: When a baby regurgitates frequently, sometimes in large amounts.
- Silent reflux – When a baby rarely regurgitates, but is very unsettled, before, during, or after feeding. It may start from birth or it may develop later from three weeks or three months.
If your baby is suffering from reflux, there is a variety of formulas available both in pharmacies and health food stores that can assist your baby’s digestion. But it’s good also to look at how you’re feeding your baby.
Are Breast-Fed Babies More Irritable?
An interesting, but misleading study has come out, reporting that infants who are breast-fed are more irritable at three months than bottle-fed infants. Searchers found these results after analyzing 316 babies living in Cambridge. And basing their conclusions on mothers’ reports of their babies, after asking them:
- Was the baby breastfed, bottle-fed, or receiving a combination of both?
- How did the mother rate the baby’s behavior at 3 months?
In an article for the Huffington Post, the researchers reported “…compared to formula-fed infants, breast-fed infants were reported to show greater distress, less smiling, laughing and vocalization, to be slower to calm down following distress or excitement, and more difficult to soothe by care givers.”
When analyzed carefully, however, it’s evident this study is less than effective in counteracting the “breast is best” point of view. Beacuse the difference in the amount of irritability reported about the breast-fed and the bottle-fed babies was very minimal. Also, the fact that the survey was solely based on mothers’ subjective reports leaves the accuracy of what was reported open to question.
Breastfeeding Is To Blame
However, it does raise some interesting questions about breastfeeding practices and what constitutes normal baby behavior. What’s important to understand is that babies on formula can take in a lot of calories in a short time. So their appetites are more quickly satisfied, and their meals last longer in their stomachs.
Babies who are on breast milk, on the other hand, are getting milk that is relatively low in fat and protein. So they need to feed frequently and on cue in order to get what they want and need. Not very convenient, but necessary if the baby is going to receive both the amount of nutrition and the sheer amount of milk he or she needs to feel satisfied.
Co-author of the study, Ken Ong, says: “There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting breast-feeding as the normal and most healthy form of infant nutrition, and our findings do not contradict this. If formula-fed babies are a bit less irritable, it’s because they don’t have to work as hard to feel sated.”
Which Comes First, the Irritable Baby or the Irritable Parent?
There are some experts who have focused on the emotional element involved in the irritable baby syndrome, rather than simply the physical/digestion issues.
They’ve concluded that anxious or moody parents can cause excessive infant crying and irritability. Young babies cry because their parents are transmitting their negative emotions to their infants.
There’s some truth to this. We all know that irritability and stress can be contagious, and parents’ emotions have a high impact on their children. But it’s important to realize that it works both ways. Taking care of an irritable baby can be very stressful. It can make you feel helpless, and feelings of helplessness can trigger depression, anger and anxiety.
The important thing, of course, is to attempt to be calm and as positive as possible around your baby. But, at the same time, to not beat yourself up for being irritable with your baby when you are feeling overwhelmed. Be gentle with yourself, as you make your way through the early months of your baby’s life. Severe irritability in babies generally doesn’t follow them through into later years.
An Overlooked Piece of the Puzzle: Electromagnetic Exposure
What most parents aren’t aware of when it comes to helping their babies digest their milk and sleep well is that electro-magnetic exposure can greatly cause them (and everyone else, for that matter) distress in both these areas.
Most homes these days are engulfed in a cloud of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) created by cell and cordless phones, computers, WiFi, wireless devices, and a plethora of electrical gadgets.
Dozens of studies have shown that EMFs not only cause digestive and sleep disturbances, but also a large number of other health symptoms. And this can lead to more serious diseases in the future. Especialy babies and children, in particular, they are susceptible to the hazards of EMFs.
Protect You Irritable baby From EMF.
The good news is that you don’t have to try to live without all your modern conveniences. You just need to get EMF protection for your family. There are many products on the market today that claim to protect you from EMFs, and it can be hard to know what will really protect you and your family.
One company you might want to check out is EarthCalm. They’ve been in business for over 25 years, and many parents have written testimonials about how EarthCalm products have helped to bring relief to their children from irritability and other ailments.
Even if electromagnetic exposure is not the sole cause of your baby’s irritability, it is likely a contributor. It’s worth it to try EMF protection products.
Take Care of Yourself!
It’s clear your baby’s irritability can be due to a number of different factors, or maybe a combination of them. It’s smart to look into all these different reasons and do what you can to ease your baby’s discomfort.
But meanwhile, be sure to take care of yourself in every way you can. Feed yourself good, organic food, get as much deep sleep as you can, and find ways to take a break from your baby as much as possible. Your own sense of health and well-being is a big factor in your baby’s health.