Fussy Baby Niece, All Out of Avice HELP!

Updated on January 12, 2012
I.A. asks from Spokane, WA
26 answers

My younger sis has a baby girl who is 2.5 months old. She is one unhappy baby. My sis come to me for advice and I truly just don't know what to tell her anymore. She looks at me and is like, "you, mom of 3, help me!"
The problems: she is fussy all day and even worse at night. she will not lay for more than 15-20 min and that's rare as it is. refusesto take a pacifier, nurses but not well and keeps coming back for more, has reflux and throws up almost after every feeding (she is taking an rx for that) the cry it out method does not work on her, plus they live in an apartment and the neighbors have complained. we have tried colic drops and home remedies. the only thing that really keeps her quite is nursing but she is using it as a pacifier, over eats and throws up. I have seen her quite like onece since she was born. The worst is her sleeping or her lack of. she leeps like less than 6hrs in a 24hr period. You can tell she's wiped but will not go to slee. She has been to the doc, they have no concerns. I told my sis keep going back until someone does have a concern.
Like I said I am all out of advice. My sis want's to enjoy this baby time so much but doesn't. What have you moms tried for your fussy babies? Could this be more than fuss?

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answers from Erie on

If she has tried everything else, she needs to look at her diet. There is most likely something she is eating that is causing the baby to act like this. I would advise looking into an elimination diet and adding foods back in very slowly.
Dr. Sears is my go-to guy for stuff like this, I hope it helps:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

You say she's been to "the doc" but I assume that means the pediatrician? Tell her to get a referral from the pediatrician to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. ASAP.

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answers from Seattle on

First, 2.5 months old is waaaayyy too young for cry it out. Way too young. CIO can be successful at about 6 months.

Second, keep working with the doctor.

Third, colic tends to dissipate by 4 months. Your sister is in the most difficult period. It will get better very, very soon.

Fourth. Try a bunch of different pacifiers. One might work.

Finally, get the book or video "Happiest Baby on the Block" by Karp. It should help 50-75% of the time. Suck, swaddle, shhhh, side, and swing.

Swaddle = tight wrap.
Shhhh = loud shussing in the baby's ear.
Side = hold baby on its side (aka football hold).
Swing = swing baby gently back and forth.

Do all five at the SAME TIME. This worked wonders for out first, who was colicky.

Good luck and hang in there!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

Please, Please refer her to a La Leche League meeting! (and she can call the leader for help NOW too!) You can find one near her at http://www.llli.org/webus.html

I'm wondering if she's dealing with an over active let down? They'll be able to help her figure that out in person PLUS at a meeting she'll be able to meet other moms in the same boat -- it'll help her so much to brainstorm and make new mom friends!

And have her check out kellymom.com too.

And PLEASE remeber (and remind her!) that pacifiers are substitute BREASTS, breasts are NOT substitute pacifiers!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My daughter became so much calmer when 1. her reflux was under control (we used prevacid, not zantac which is often the first medicine they'll try) and 2. I started wearing her.

After reading "The Happiest Baby on the Block" I realized that she just wasn't quite ready to be separated from momma. Technically, she didn't really want to be born when my water broke... =D

I got a Moby wrap and another type of sling and started wearing her around the house as I did stuff - made breakfast/lunch, watched TV, picked up, etc. I also made sure I wore her when I went shopping.

Her sleep improved dramatically when we got her reflux under control, started swaddling her, and got a swing for her to sleep in.

Basically, I just did what she wanted. Whatever worked. Let your sister know that, if she can figure out her baby's cues, to just follow her baby's lead. If she seems happiest when she's being held, then she needs to be held all the time - wearing is a good option. If she won't sleep if she's not in someone's arms, then she can try swaddling and possibly co-sleeping.

As for the nursing for comfort - at 2 in the morning, my girl would wake up to eat. Then she would spit up everything, scream in pain and want to nurse again because the milk soothed the burn from the reflux. Unfortunately, it also restarted the cycle. After the reflux was under control she still wanted to nurse for closeness and comfort (as opposed to only for food) but we didn't have any problems with her spitting up because she overate.

Babies can use the breast as a pacifier without overeating. They are masters of how to nurse for what they need. It's the reflux that's causing the problem, not the nursing for comfort.

To summarize, have your sis:
1. go back to the doctor and demand a different reflux medicine. Zantac (if that's what she's on) isn't always effective.
2. start wearing her all the time. Slings are fairly inexpensive.
3. start swaddling her to sleep and start out trying to put her in a swing. If that doesn't work, try cosleeping if she feels it's safe enough (Dr. Sear's website has excellent information about safe cosleeping.)

Good luck! Hope it helps.

MamaDuckP - White noise! I completely forgot about it. She wouldn't go to sleep without. I even found a Baby White Noise app for my iPhone that offered different types of white noise. It often was the last line of defense if nothing else was helping.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Wow sounds just like my son! He had extreme colic and cried for 6-8 a day. We thought he was just a fussy baby, but turns out we found out later he has multiple food allergies. He was getting all those allergens through my breastmilk. Even thought I an elimination diet, he never got completely better until I stopped breastfeeding at 6 mos or so. He was such a miserable little fella, I feel really bad I put him through all that. I am NOT advocating that she stop breastfeeding- just start cutting the most common allergens out of her diet. Usually- egg, milk, nuts, and in some cases wheat. Also, give it some time to work as well.
As for the crying- I am the expert at that! lol I found that the 5 S's worked. I was listening to him scream one day when this came on tv:
We did a lot of holding, rocking, shushing, and swinging. Sometimes you have to combine tactics until you find what works. White noise was very soothing to my colicky baby, combined with swinging and sucking his pacifier.
Colicky babies are not your run-of-the-mill babies. They require a lot more holding and special attention until it runs its course. It will pass, so tell her to hang in there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

She may be in pain. Often, birth (even easy births, but also difficult births, particularly if the doctor used forceps or vacuum) can cause pain or a strained neck, and this can hurt the baby. Try chiropractic.

Your sister may also try to carry the baby in a sling or some similar baby carrier that keeps the baby more upright, and let her sleep during the day.

One of my friends had this happen with her first baby, and it turns out the baby was allergic to the eggs the mother was eating, that was getting into her breastmilk. [Eggs are an example; your niece may be allergic to something else.] The way my friend figured it out, was the La Leche League leader told her to think of what she ate on a regular, even daily, basis, because that was likely the problem. My friend was eating eggs every morning for breakfast, as a quick protein/filling food that she could cook and eat quickly because the baby was screaming all the time. :-/ So, she stopped eating eggs, and her baby stopped screaming and started sleeping.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It's been said several times, but my fussy one cried constantly and stopped four days after I cut all dairy out of my diet. I tried this in desperation after seeking on the internet for ideas. My pediatrician said babies that young wouldn't be affected by allergies, but four days after I cut dairy he was a new child! I also second trying a new reflux med (or upping it) and holding her upright for 20 min after each feeding.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My niece was very similar. It's stressful on all of the adults around, which makes the baby even MORE stressed and fussy. When babies sense that their mothers are emotional, they cry even more to make sure they aren't abandoned. Just a few things that we found helpful with my niece:
- Let the baby sleep sitting upright in her carseat or swing
- Pay attention to what your sister is eating. Whatever she eats will "flavor" her breastmilk. Anything with strong spice or flavoring with make the reflux even worse.
- Go for walks outside whenever possible. Bundle the baby and mommy and head outside for a walk. Encourage mom to walk for 15-20 minutes a couple times a day. It will reduce her stress, which will reduce the baby's stress.
- Give your sister a little break. Offer to take the baby for a couple of hours each week (if you can) so that your sister can sleep/shower/run errands, etc in quiet.

My niece screamed and cried constantly for her first 6-9 months. It was stressful for my SIL/BIL and my MIL openly told me several times that she was so upset because she simply couldn't enjoy her newest grandchild. As the "support team", we all just offered to spend some time enduring the screaming so that my SIL and BIL could sleep. That was really the very best thing we could do. I also discovered that my husband is entirely unphased by infant crying and just doesn't get flustered.... we didn't have children yet, but he really could just walk with her for hours and not get anxious.

If she has colic, there's really nothing you can do except wait it out- it will take a long time. If your sister suspects food allergies, then she needs to watch her own diet or switch to formula.

Good luck. Be patient and remind your sister that "this too shall pass".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We had similar problems at that age, lots of spit ups, lots of fussiness, and sleeping only in short stints. He would cry when feeding, cry when being put to sleep, cry in our arms. we did three things which seemed to help. 1. I eliminated all dairy. 2. we would hold him upright for at least 15-20 minutes after a feed. 3. we used ferber, to help him sleep.

A beneficial side effect of the ferber was that it increased the times between his feeds. He was able to properly digest, and able to eat with more gusto. BFing too often (for us as frequently as every hour) wasn't a good thing. I was a first time mom, and had my MIL to help. She raised her kids in an era when you weren't allowed to feed them more frequently than every 4 hours. When he cried, she would tell me he was hungry, and I would feed him. NOT every cry is a cry because of hunger.

Another technique we used to increase the time between feedings was to play "pass the baby". Each adult would take a 15 minute turn with a very fussy DS. This would keep him out of my arms, and away from his food source.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Shreveport on

Another thing is she needs to look at her diet. It could be something she is eating that is coming through in the breast milk. So looking at the mother's diet is something that needs to be done. Which is she talks to a breast feeding group they can help with.
Another thing to think about is even though the nursing is soothing it could also be the problem. I know I will probably get flamed for this but I have seen it happen. The baby maybe be allergic to the breast milk itself and that is what is causing the issues and yes that includes the reflux. There was a time I myself would have said that was insane til I saw a good friend go through it. It took over 6 months before her doctor could figure out what was going on. He son was fussy,throwing up almost all he ate,reflux,failure to thrive,and the list goes on. She tried everything her doctor suggested to eliminating certain foods from her diet, putting him on meds, changing up where he slept and the list goes on.
So it might be worth looking into as well as diet changes. I know we all hear how breast is best and I do agree that if you can breast feeding is a wonderful thing. But sometimes it isn't meant to be.



answers from Portland on

Has she tried using a pacifier? My granddaughter had reflux and she ended up sleeping much better strapped into her car seat which was in her crib. Both of my grandchildren slept well in their swing too.

I agree that she should continue to take the baby back to the pediatrician until they find a solution.

Has she tried "wearing" the baby or holding her most of the day? Perhaps she needs more touch than the average baby. You don't wan to spend the day holding a baby but I suggest trying that to see if she'll calm down enough to get some good sleep. When she's feeling secure she could ease off on the holding.



answers from Seattle on

you've gotten some really great advice!!! stick with the breastfeeding... no child is allergic to their mother's breastmilk.

i have heard that you can take both of the acid reflux meds at the same time and this helps some of the more stubborn acid reflux problems. ask a dr. about this.

good luck!!



answers from Seattle on

my son was like that for about 6 mos. he would cry for hours at a time. we got the 'colic' label and nothing was ever diagnosed. altho i tried looking for problem foods, etc, i was never able to find anything. it was a miserable time. My MIL, who has 4 kids and 7 grandkids came out to stay with us and said she had never seen anything like it. my son didnt spit up much but would eat giant amounts and bloat up and have horrible gas also.
the one thing that did help some was cosleeping. i didnt plan on doing it at all but we rearranged things and made a safe sleeping area and that did help both of us get more sleep.
on a happy note, once it ended around 7 months old, my son became a very happy, easygoing baby and toddler and I started to enjoy being a mom, instead of worrying all the time, and it has been good ever since. hopefully she will get to enjoy being a mom pretty soon- it can be very lonely when you can't comfort your baby and you can't enjoy being a mom. tell her to hang in there!



answers from New York on

The suggestions below sound great, especially sleeping in a car seat which helps the reflus, swinging for the constant motion and wearing her. I have three children as well. Your niece sounds like my oldest who is now 13. He had colic, was miserable for about 3.5 months and then turned into a completely different baby and toddler. He is a wonderful kid. Tell your sister to hang in there. It does get better.



answers from Bellingham on

This was my little daughter too and she turns out to b gluten and dairy intolerant/allergic. I´m sure doctors and friends will say no way could it be that but I knew from the are of 3 weeks that my daughter had something wrong with her. It wasn´t until we had been in the ER 3 times that someone listened to us!!!!!

Have her look into that and by the way they are all going to say that she looks great on paper after allergy tests if they agree to do one and that is what I was told but after in only got worse and she almost lost her kidneys they finally did listen!

Good luck,



answers from Seattle on

A cranial sacral therapist can do amazing things for fussy colicky babies. My son didn't have colic but was having a hard time nursing and sleeping and after the first visit oh my gosh it was amazing. He started sleeping better and nursing better. My pediatrician also told me that gi peds are recommending that mom's cut out dairy for reflux. Have your sister do that. My daughter didn't have reflux but would have very bad diarrhea if I had any dairy at all so I cut that out and she was much better. I would definitely try these two things.



answers from Portland on

I have been there. I know how she feels! I went through this for the first 6 months of my daughter's life, when my son did the same thing 18 months later, I knew exactly what to do. It will be hard, and maybe expensive, but it can't hurt to give it a try.

1. Use Alimentum from Similac formula, she should see a difference within a day or so. This will give her time to figure out what to eliminate, I recommend everything and then add in if baby tolerates the new eliminated diet.
2. Use Playtex Drop-in bottles with LATEX nipples...silicone nipples will NOT work...when you buy the bottles they come with the silicone nipples you have to find the latex ones seperately, I usually get them at Kmart, Target, or online.
3. Let her sleep in her carseat, laying her down will make the acid worse.
4. Find a Graco Sweetpeace Soother...this takes the car seat and makes it so that the baby doesn't stop moving.
5. Give 1ml of Mylanta whenever she is crying and fussy. You can go several times in a row.
6. Get a Gerber pacifier with a latex BULB end, I get these at Walmart and sometimes Fred Meyers.
7. I know that mom wants to breastfeed, but BOTH of my babies were allergic or sensitive to my bm and I had been on an elimination diet since getting pregnant...if they didn't like it I couldn't eat it. I didn't have all of this info when my daughter was a baby, and like your sister, I was at my wits' end. But, through trial and error, I figured it out, and my second one was so much easier and better.
8. Oh, and if she's taking Zantac, try spreading it out more often, we got to 4x a day, but then she'll grow out of it. Now we just do Prevacid 2x a day.

If I can help more, or she has questions, please please let me know!



answers from Portland on

My daughter was a lot like this with the reflux. She didn't throw up, but had trouble eating and laying down for sleep. Try either propping up one end of the crib, just so her head is higher than her stomach, or sit her up in a swing or car seat. See if that helps.

We tried the prescription meds for reflux, and while they did help a bit, it wasn't enough. I finally took my dd to a Naturopath and she gave us a probiotic (Bifidus) and Glutamine. These helped so much. My ds also showed signs of severe gas and reflux starting very early (4 wks), the Naturopath also put him on Bifidus (powder form, 1/4 tsp a day). I finger-fed it to him and he just licked it off until it was all gone. You can apply to a nipple if nursing, but will take more than one application to finish the 1/4 tsp.

Also, the lactation clinic folks had me pump or hand express some prior to feeding so my let-down wouldn't overwhelm my kids. My let down was so fast, that it would just kind of foam up in their tummies (foremilk is much thinner and sugary) and fill them up. They wouldn't get the hindmilk that had all of the good fats and more proteins.

If the doc. isn't worried and mom is (she knows something isn't right), I'd find a Naturopath in the area. Ask around and get some verbal recommendations. My insurance covered alternative care, have her check with hers. That little girl needs help. Fussing all day, less than 6 hours of sleep a day, the throwing up (spitting up) is the reflux, not overeating.

Oh, one other thing to look into. My friend's son had this problem. The little sphincter at the top of the stomach (cause of reflux) closed up and the milk would come right back up. It never made it to the stomach. Help your sis advocate for her child. Go with her to the doc. See if you two can come up with questions to ask and you be there to back her up. Sometimes having someone else to corroborate her story, will tell them that she isn't just a frazzled first time mom that is overexaggerating things. If this doesn't work, sis needs to find a new pediatrician.

She might want to go to a lactation clinic and they will observe a feeding. They will weigh the baby first, have her nuse, and weigh her again when done. They seem to do better with the "diagnoses" than the actual MDs. They can't treat with meds (which you probably don't want anyway), but they can give good advice and hopefully help sis get the problem solved.



answers from Portland on

Have your sister take the baby to a chiropractor (one who treats familes). My sister-in-law is one, and she saw a baby that wouldn't sleep more than 30 minutes at a time. After the baby's first adjustment (which is very gentle) the baby slept for 8 hours straight!



answers from Pocatello on

My first baby was a nightmare! Her record was 11 hours of crying. She is now 16 and practically perfect. :) Find a copy of the Fussy Baby Book by Dr. Sears. I read the old orange edition...it has been updated, butany edition will be excellent. Are the baby's poops yellow or green? If they are green, breastfeeding needs to be tweaked a bit; if they are yellow, look for other ideas. There is more than one medicine for reflux; she could request a change. Reflux babies are uncomfortable most of the time until it is under control. Baby needs to be upright and slightly leaning forward (like over mom's shoulder) for 10-20 minutes after feeding. Removing all dairy from her diet may help (it takes 10 days for a true elimination). I also wonder if the baby gaining weight appropriately. My little one would stop crying when we took a bath together--we took at least 4 baths a day for my sanity. I wore her in a baby sling; sometimes she still cried, but not always. It will get better. She can cry alongside her baby in the meantime to blow off steam. :(



answers from Hickory on

my daughter wa really fussy and still is at 2 years.... she was born with bad reflux as well and for the first year, i let her sleep in her swing beside my bed... the constent rocking helped sooth her and me.....



answers from Portland on

I would find another doctor. One who will listen to me and my concerns. If you can't find a medical doctor then go to an alternative one like a naturopath

Or you can try a chiropractor who specializes in
babies or a cranial sacral massage therapist




answers from Los Angeles on

My SIL had this same situation with her 2nd baby; unfortunately for them they didn't pinpoint the cause of their troubles until my niece was about 9 months old. Up until then she cried all the time, they learned she was allergic to dairy, eggs, and I can't remember the third. Once the M. eliminated those things out of hers and the baby's diet, they had a new happy, smiley baby. It was quite unbelievable. Good luck with your niece, hope they find the cause of her discomforts.



answers from Seattle on

My son had reflux and did very well on Prevacid. We moved and had to change doctors, and his new pediatrician said that Zantac was the same and more commonly prescribed, so we switched. He started crying again the first day he took it. We tried it for about a week and then asked to go back to Prevacid. He was better immediately after we switched, so consider changing medication if you can. His first pediatrician said that some kids just respond better to Prevacid and this turned out to be true for us.

Also, has she tried a swaddle? We used the official "Miracle Blanket" and it was AMAZING! It was the only swaddle he liked because it's soft and gentle and he really couldn't "escape" and startle himself awake like he did in the cheaper ones (Halo, etc.). It is expensive but sincerely worth it, and I've seen them sold as used on Craigslist and eBay. Our son would get calm the minute we laid him down to swaddle. It was like he was relieved not to have so much movement and stimulation. We called him our little baby burrito. :-) He loved it so much we kept him swaddled well into six or seven months, possibly longer (transition them with one arm out at first, then the other once they can roll themselves over, and then move on to a sleep sack).

He also loved hanging out swaddled in his swing and eventually he would swing in there without the swaddle. He didn't like vibrating bouncers but he loved the swing so try different things. We also had a bassinet topper for his stroller and I would just roll him around the house in it. He liked rhythmic motion and it allowed me to get some things done and not have to hold him all the time. I could even sit at the dinner table with one hand moving the stroller and the other eating. Hah! The things we do for our kids :-) Some people love carriers and slings for this same affect, but oddly enough, my son hated being in them and I hated having him attached. But maybe it would work for your sister?

Oh, and I used the "dryer method" once or twice in a moment of despair, and that worked! What you do is put your child in their car seat and place it on top of a running dryer. The movement, white noise and warmth all help. He also slept well in the car so I'd drive the long way to the grocery store on the other side of town, just to get him to nap.

Our son was also a light sleeper, so we used an air purifier to provide white noise next to his bassinet.

2.5 months is too young for CIO in my opinion but I do recommend she read Dr. Weissbuth's book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. It gave me real peace of mind to know what's normal, when, related to sleep. And I took a "modified" approach to CIO, returning to my son every five minutes to calm and sooth before leaving again. But I didn't do this until he was older, maybe four or five months? Sorry, I was sleep deprived, I can't quite remember.

And lastly, if she's using nursing as a way to soothe, that's not the end of the world if she can get the reflux under control. But she could also try to pump and bottle feed, to see if it's really that the baby wants to eat, or if she's just finding comfort. For comfort, my son only took to one kind of pacifier, so try multiple kinds. But some kids just don't like them.

Definitely she should keep talking to the pediatrician about her concerns, no matter what. And I would change doctor's if they make her feel like she has no reason to be concerned. Even if a doctor thinks or knows you're crazy, they should always take you seriously and provide information to calm your worries. Especially with your first child.

I hope something I've written helps. I know it's little comfort, but it's true... this too shall pass.



answers from Minneapolis on

Chiropractic adjustments have helped babies in my family.

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