Helping and Coping With an Unsettled Baby

6 min read

Helping and Coping With an Unsettled Baby

I will confess

- I once thought I was some kind of genius super mum. When Billy was a newborn, he was pretty much ALWAYS happy. He breastfed easily apart from the odd distractions and he smashed his milestones - reflux? Nope. Colic? Nope. Gas? What Gas? We almost had a home run if it wasn't for his horrid sleep - but that was totally manageable with a happy go lucky baby to keep me company all day - and if he was unsettled at all, generally I could just 'boob' him and all was fixed - perfect!

Fast forward

to our newest creation - Wowza. I love you my child, but boy did my theory on boobing a baby and they will be happy went out the window! They really can continue to cry no matter what you do to try and help, reflux and colic really is a deal - and - darn it, I'm no genius super mum after all!

Please don't get me wrong, there are plenty of moments of perfection among the many moments of shit - but all in all, a totally different kettle of fish! - 

It’s no secret that unsettled babies are very common.

Whether it's gas, wind, reflux, silent reflux, colic, anxiety, birth trauma or other - so many Mums and Dads find themselves in a struggle until they either hopefully A) Find a remedy or cure or B) Their beautiful mysterious baby grows out of it.

Being in the struggle myself, I thought I would put together my top tips on how I've coped with my simply gorgeous, but unsettled baby, to help prepare you in case, or give a tip or two if you’re with me!


- Brace yourself and accept that your baby will need more attention than you ever imagined. I feel like once you accept it, it's much easier to cope with and things stay a lot calmer.


- As hard as it can be sometimes, remind yourself that this is not forever, it will pass, and soon be forgotten - heck you might even produce another one! It truly sucks because you really want to enjoy every moment with your new addition you have been looking forward to, but it's hard to when they're screaming or on the verge of it all the time. Take in the good times when they happen - soak them right in, and know there will be plenty more.

Establish a Cause

- Try to narrow down on the problem your baby is experiencing - if anything it will make you feel better that you are trying and if you figure out exactly where the issue is coming from, then you can work to solve it and make baby's and your life much better. Is it gas, wind, reflux, overtired, all four or something else? You may never figure it out, or you might just establish something you can treat and make their life, and your families' a whole lot more relaxed.

Which brings me to..

Treating the Problem

- or at least try - try all the things (that are safe), something might work, something might have the 'placebo affect', or, sadly nothing might work, but you will feel better having tried anyway. It's bloody tough seeing your baby upset, or worse, in pain.

Here are some of the things I have been doing that I have found to help with my unsettled baby!

Treating Gas

Warm baths; tummy massage; try to alter your diet if breastfeeding avoiding foods such as beans, broccoli, cauli, spicy foods, onion, pork, caffiene, chocolate, cabbage. Try some remedies from your pharmacy like Probiotics, Rhuger, Gripe water/Infacol/Colic Calm, Chamomile Tea (1tsp) Fennel or Dill infused water (1tsp).

Treating Wind

Burping regularly before/during/after feeds; get baby checked for lip and tongue tie and have it released if required; try different feeding positions if you have a forceful let down ie lay back with baby over you to slow the flow; try not to overfeed and overload their digestive system - some hunger cues can look like wind cues and continually feeding your baby can sometimes make things worse; rhuger, gripe water, infacol etc as recommended by your pharmacist/gp.

Treating Reflux

Keep baby upright after feeds - I have LOVED my snugglebug wrap for this, Taylor basically lived in it for day sleeps for three months. If baby is ok to go in bassinet, elevating the head end slightly can help (under the bassinet legs is recommended, not under the matress). Rhugher is a good natural remedy to try, and there is also Pharmacy only medication such as Gaviscon for Infants if it is not helping. A pacifier can help ease symptoms, as they can help baby to keep creating saliva and swallow, soothing the burning sensation NB: my advice with pacifiers is to try and use them only to help after feeds, and aid settling. Don't fall into the trap of just silencing your baby as it may be something else they are trying to tell you .. hunger, wet/dirty nappy, hot/cold etc, it can also negatively impact on breast milk supply if the pacifier masks babies hunger and feeds are subsequently missed.

If your baby has gas as well as reflux, try to do tummy massage well before or after feeds to prevent pushing up any of the feed making the reflux worse. I found Osteopathy also really helped, as well as changes in diet. 

For the breastfeeding Muma avoiding caffiene, dairy, soy, gluten, nuts acidy foods such as tomato, lemon, orange, spices can help lessen symptoms. Cows Milk Protein is a big contributor to reflux in babies. 

See your GP if unsure or still nothing is helping. - Reflux is often diagnoised as a symptom of some outside factor (ie an intolerance to food Muma is eating), worsened in babies due to their esophageal sphincter being immature, weak or not quite working as it should - they say this can peak at 4 months of age then appear to subside.

Over/Under tired

Little babies are very prone to being over or undertired, resulting in catnaps and unsettled temperment. Keeping an eye on the time your baby has been awake for and their cues of needing sleep will be helpful in avoiding overtired meltdowns. Remember that the vast majority of babies are unable to get themselves off to sleep un-aided, so it perfect to rock, feed, bounce, walk, drive baby for a nap.

For General Calming/Temperamental Babies

Since 'boobing' was 99% of the time not wanted and generally made matters worse, I found when he was really upset my snugglebug front wrap was the go to, and if he would take it, the pacifier. I love white noise and swaddling for calming - even if not for sleeping, white noise and a swaddle combo can work incredibly well to settle a baby from crying. Hold baby, move around, go for a walk with the buggy or drive, if feeling overwhelmed there is no shame in calling on someone to help, even just to hold baby for a little so you can get some breathing space and start again xx.

Update 17/09/2018 - I thought I would pop in an update on our journey thus far. We got to a point where nothing was helping our little guy enough for him to be a happy settled baby, and it was clear he was in pain. I decided it was time to do a complete elimination diet under medical supervision. As a result I have been completely free of Dairy & Gluten (and meat as a follow on for me) - and you know what, things have definitely settled with Tay and he is no longer in pain. I am yet to 'challenge' both of these foods as I am, for now, just enjoying a happy pain free babe - and let's face it, they're not essential food groups with the amazing alternatives available today - and even I feel better without them in my body. 

I hope you have found some help here, or even just a sense of feeling that you are not alone in it all. It does pass - I can tell you this as we are coming out the other-side now as I knew we would, and you know what, they say un-settled, temperamental babies can turn out to be the giggliest, cheekiest fun lovers - so hold on Mumma x

If you want to find some more support and other mums to bounce ideas, advice, laughs and questions around with - come join us in Milkbar Mum Chat on Facebook, together, we've got this!

xx Laura

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Breastfeeding Articles

A Guide to Sterilising
A Guide to Sterilising

4 min read

Expressing A Starting Out Guide
Expressing A Starting Out Guide

4 min read

Breast Pumps - A Troubleshooting Guide
Breast Pumps - A Troubleshooting Guide

5 min read