What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Unsettled baby

By Kate

Unsettled baby

The day of L's 4-week check-up, a few things suddenly came into focus for me. I had been feeling quite smug -- if still dazed from lack of sleep -- but L was feeding like a champion and putting on weight, and was generally an easy baby. He would have a period once a day or so of being cranky, but we could usually get him to settle with some undivided attention.


We really liked shushing, swaddling, and movement -- walking around, jiggling, dancing -- and if that all failed, he settled pretty easily with a feed (although we were trying to space him out between feeds, since two-hourly around the clock was making me miserable with tiredness).


We tried to follow the WWWT guidelines for re-settling him in his bed with shushing or patting; this sometimes worked, and sometimes he just kept escalating his crying so we would pick him up. But the fact that it sometimes worked actually felt quite good :)


Anyway, at four weeks, I suddenly understood all the folk-tales about Changelings (for a brilliant modern take, see Maurice Sendak's "Outside Over There") because it was like the goblins had replaced L with a much crankier copy :)


He became much harder to settle, and the crying! Wow! It was real screaming now.


I also had a sudden flashback to working in a Paediatric Emergency Department overnight, where we would sometimes see "unsettled babies" -- I quite liked seeing them as patients because, once you had checked that there was nothing medically wrong with the baby, your job was to settle him, and then find out what supports were available to mum. Anyway, I now understand why new mums would come to the ED -- our baby was screaming blue murder, night after night, and it was hard not to think that something must be seriously wrong!


Having said all that, a few points were very reassuring -- and we kept reminding ourselves of them:


L did actually have moments -- even a few seconds -- when he would settle down and be really happy and alert -- so we knew that he wasn't actually sick or in pain, and the screaming was just part of being a baby;


My partner told me on a regular basis that I was doing a wonderful job -- it sounds trite, but it really made a big difference.


and having family and friends over who so obviously enjoyed meeting him also reminded us how wonderful he is!

Posted in:  Baby 0-4 weeks