The Reality of a Fussy Baby

One day last week, Zoey was inconsolable. She was literally crying all day, so I decided to Insta-story all the ridiculous reasons she was crying. (If you haven’t seen them, go to my Instagram profile and under the highlight #whyiszoeycrying, you’ll see some of em!)

Y’all, the messages I got from those stories was crazy. So many people who thanked me for being real, who said they were glad they weren’t alone.

(Now, full, disclosure, we found out like, 3 days later that Zoey had an ear infection. BUT, to be fair, she’s always fussy and crying over everything anyway. So I’m continuing #whyiszoeycrying.)

So many people I talk to and so many people I follow always talk about their “happy baby”. And I’m so glad for them. Seriously. Oliver was a happy baby, and it’s the best.

how to handle a fussy baby

Zoey is not a happy baby. And for a very long time, I found reasons for it. She’s allergic to dairy, she has reflux, she’s teething, sleep regression, growth spurt, more teething. Until, one day, you just stop looking for a reason and accept the fact that you have an unhappy baby.

Y’all, no one wants an unhappy baby. And no one wants to hear that you have an unhappy baby. When people ask how Zoey is and I respond with fussy or irritable, I promise you it’s not me complaining. It’s not me venting- I’m just telling you how Zoey is. She’s fussy and whiny.

Let me describe just a bit what I mean when I say Zoey is an unhappy and fussy baby.

She cries when we put her in her highchair. She cries the second she’s done eating. When I put her down, she cries. If Oliver looks at her wrong, she screams. If she stumbles, the world is over. When she gets mad, she freaks out. Basically, the girl’s first reaction to anything and everything is just to cry.

She’s also incredibly attached to me. Like, I-can’t-be-more-than-a-foot-away-from-her kind of attached. I do let her just cry a little bit to see if she’ll wander off and play. She doesn’t. When I do the dishes, she positions herself between me and the cabinets, grabs my legs, starts hyperventilating and looking up at me like I’ve just sold her soul. From the hours of 2-when Dan gets home, she has to be touching me at all times. (In case you were wondering where my not-missing-things-post came from…this is it.)

how to handle a fussy baby

Now Zoey has her moments. She gives the sweetest hugs and the biggest smiles. She waddles around pretty well by herself when Oliver is in preschool, and bath time is our saving grace. Sometimes if we go into her bedroom, she’ll play by herself for a few minutes. As long as I’m in the room, obviously.

Again, I’m not sharing this to complain. Trying to keep up a blog and run a business can make this really challenging and frustrating, of course, but there is no plea for pity here.

I’m sharing this because of all the responses to my #whyiszoeycrying stories. Yes, they’re funny and a way to cope when she’s being crazy. But if you’re a mom who has an unhappy baby, just know you’re not alone. In a world where Instagram shows all the smiling, cute babes dressed from the most amazing small shops while skipping through a field of flowers, just know that mine is probably naked because she drooled all over her Walmart pajamas while crying for 2 hours straight. #noshame

I’ve learned staying at home can be a little isolating. I love social media as a way to connect, but it is hard to stop comparison from sneaking in. “Why can’t Zoey just be happy like that baby is?” Y’all, the posts we see on Instagram are LITERALLY 1/200th of a second. We have no idea what was happening the other 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59.8 seconds of the day. So I don’t share Zoey crying as a way to belittle or mock her. I do share it as a way to find some humor in it (lest I spend all day crying, too), but I share it to share real life. I share it to let people know our reality lest you get caught in comparison, as well.

ways to handle a fussy baby

So how do you cope with an unhappy baby? 

Oh man. Do y’all know how many times I’ve looked at Dan and just said, “I can’t handle this anymore?” But ya know what? I do.

Tamper expectations 

I’ve pretty much stopped trying to do anything productive while Zoey is awake. Emails, blogging, and anything business related is relegated to Zoey’s naptime and after she goes to bed. Since she went down to 1 nap, I do put her in her crib with some toys for about 30 minutes so I can get some things done while Oliver is napping, but other than that, I don’t even. Trying it just leads to frustration and anger right now, so it’s easier on me to just not even go there.

Just let em cry. 

Let’s be clear that this doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, kid just has to cry a little bit. If she’s fed with a clean diaper and isn’t injured, she can hang on for 5 minutes while I eat lunch. It’s no my favorite thing to have her hanging off of me and crying, but the alternative is not eating, so. I do what it takes.

Get out of the house. 

I’m sure not all babies are like this, but Zoey does a lot better when we get out of the house! She doesn’t love the car, but different scenery stimulates her enough to detract from the constant whining (usually). We go for a lot of walks or even just head out to the backyard. In the beginning it was really easy to use her fussiness as an excuse to stay in the house. But if only for my sanity, it’s important to leave the house!

how to handle a fussy baby

Let her lead. 

I’ve been trying this the past few days, and it’s been really helpful. So Zoey just cries if I put her down. So I sit down with her in my lap and let her decide to stand up and go play. It usually takes her a few minutes and she comes back a few times, but it’s worked a lot better than just putting her down, because she’ll track me down within seconds.

Stop trying to find reasons they’re unhappy. 

I think this was the biggest point for me. Like I said, it’s so easy to just find reasons they’re unhappy. But after doing all of the things and going through all of the reasons, it just leads to frustration when you can’t fix it. When Tylenol doesn’t fix the teething and changing the diaper doesn’t fix the annoyance and going dairy free doesn’t help the screaming, it just gets really annoying. Honestly, it’s easier to just admit she’s unhappy and take care of her than try to fix whatever could possibly be making her unhappy (which is everything).

Get some alone time. 

This is also huge for me! A few weeks ago, I started trying to make sure that I got out of the house on my own or with friends at least once a week. This has helped me recharge so much! I felt bad at first taking this time, but I need it! It makes me a better mom, wife, and I’d go so far as to say, person. Tamper down that guilt, leave the crying kiddo with dad, and get out of the house! If your child is anything like mine, she’ll do so much better with daddy, anyway.

How to Help A Fussy Baby

If you have a fussy and unhappy baby- solidarity, mama! I’m told they’ll outgrow this, but until then, just know you’re not alone! And make sure you’re following along on Instagram to see all the ridiculous reasons Zoey cries!

Have a phenomenal day!

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4 Comments

  1. Sarah

    April 12, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    I have had a generally unhappy baby since the day we got home. There have been a lot of tears and confusion. It’s hard to see all of your friends posting about how happy their baby is even with 103 temp or how they will go to any stranger and smile the whole time. Meanwhile my child literally wakes up crying and won’t even go to her grandmother. So many times I have made excuses for evie and apologized to people for how she is. I don’t think I should do that. She is who she is right now and she really is a great tiny human! Thanks for sharing this. It helps to know that I’m not alone!

    1. Alex

      April 13, 2018 at 7:11 am

      Definitely not alone, Sarah!! I’ve apologized for my daughter so many times, too, but it’s just a reality of their little personalities right now, absolutely nothing we need to be apologizing for! 💛💛

  2. Kimberly C

    April 29, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    You are doing an awesome job as a mama! Some LO just cry more than others and that is okay. My oldest was super busy so we tried everything. Years later, we discovered Happiest Baby on the block. It was a lifesaver when #2 rolled in.

    1. Kimberly C

      April 29, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      Fussy* mom brain

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