Drive Time: Soothing My Fussy Baby
Marcie B., Nebraska
“If you have a hard-to-settle baby for reasons you can’t just figure out, life is tougher at first. It may help to put a smiley face on the calendar on those days when your baby was happier and look back over the calendar to see the positive trend…Enjoy your baby’s moments of contentment, do your best to soothe his distresses, and know that he’s no happier about his unhappiness than you are!” – The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition), p. 118
I remember reading this section about fussy babies from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding when my daughter was just a few weeks old and, for the most part, a content, calm baby. Whew! I thought. What a relief that my baby wasn’t so fussy and inconsolable.
Fast forward a few weeks.
We suddenly (it seemed to me) hit a string of days where the early evening hours arrived and my daughter was – you guessed it – fussy and inconsolable. She wasn’t calmed by nursing. She wasn’t soothed by being carried back and forth across the main floor of the house. She screamed even louder when I slipped her into the sling, which normally had been a cocoon of peace and comfort for her.
There must be something new going on with her, I thought. I remembered a social media post I saw on the LLL USA Facebook page about the Magic Baby hold, a technique that seemed to work well for fussy, colicky babies. I gently cradled my daughter in my arms so she was facing toward the floor and softly swayed back and forth. She started to quiet down and soon relaxed. Success? For about two minutes.
There have been a number of times since that moment when my partner or I used the Magic Baby hold and it worked wonders. This was just not one of those times. I thought, too, of the infamous “witching hours”, that late afternoon or early evening stretch where baby is unhappy and unsettled for apparently no obvious reason. Perhaps that was what we were experiencing.
On that particular day, I just knew we had to get out of the house for a change of scenery. I was tired and feeling short tempered and really just needed a break from holding my daughter. So, we went for a drive. At first, it seemed that driving around wouldn’t be any more successful than my other attempts. My daughter fussed and cried as I made my way through traffic and several stop lights. Once we hit the outskirts of town, though, she began to quiet down. Before I knew it, five minutes of silence had passed. Then 10 minutes. I drove around for about a half hour, and I could feel myself relaxing, the tension leaving my shoulders and back. When I arrived home, my daughter was still asleep and stayed asleep for another hour after we went inside. I think she needed that nap as much as I needed her to take it!
Evening drives became part of our “toolbox” for a while. Sometimes that’s what she needed to settle, and sometimes it wasn’t. Before I knew it, she had moved past this stage, and we didn’t have as many fussy evenings. It was so helpful, though, to have those resources from La Leche League when I didn’t know what else to do.
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