Unsettled Baby – Ideas from Parents

Have you tried …

  • Winding/burping regularly (preferably high on the shoulder with a nice straight body to allow the wind to escape more easily).
  • Avoid pressure on tummy except for during “tummy time”.  (Tummy time is important and newborns should have this at least once a day: http://www.plunket.org.nz/your-child/newborn-to-6-weeks/play-and-learning/)
  • Sleep pattern in place.
  • Avoid “crying it out” as crying worsens gastric reflux and is distressing to family. Bad sleep behaviours do not develop and sleep patterns are easily established once gastric reflux is adequately controlled.
  • Breastfeeding mums may like to try drinking fennel tea, which could have a calming effect on baby.
  • Other breastfeeding mums find that their baby’s symptoms improve if they avoid eating certain foods (citrus fruit, chocolate, coffee/tea etc.), or dairy products.  See: Food and Reflux.
  • Wind preparation like Weleda colic powder (this can help with wind if baby wakes early and is uncomfortable. 10 ml boiled water or Weleda colic powder in 10 ml of water can wash the oesophagus, bring up remaining wind and allow baby to return to sleep).
  • Breastfeeding mums may like to try a ‘dairy free’ diet, bottle-feeding mums may like to try an alternative to standard cow’s milk  based formula. (Please discuss which formula to choose with your Health Professional (doctor, Well Child Provider or dietician) or phone Nutricia on 0800 258 268 to speak to a Dietician.)  See https://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/food/foodandreflux/
  • Pacifier/dummy? (Consider latch and milk supply issues if breastfeeding especially in first four to six weeks. https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/what-can-you-do-when-your-baby-cries ) Sucking gives comfort but feeding continuously may exacerbate or encourage more GOR episodes.
  • Using disposable nappies?
  • A rocking/nursing chair?
  • Some mothers have found a variety of Complementary Therapies helpful e.g. Colimed drops, Weleda Colic Powder, Aloe Vera Juice, Slippery Elm Powder etc.  (Please ensure all medications, natural or mainstream are prescribed/recommended/approved by a registered practitioner and administered using prescribed instructions.)
  • The “Colic hold”?
  • Swaddling baby to settle or sleep?  (See: http://www.changeforourchildren.co.nz/safe_start_programme/issues/swaddling for more safe swaddling information)
  • A change of scenery, swimming trip etc.?
  • Some time out for yourself?
  • My idea relates to an unsettled baby without gastric reflux. Our third baby wouldn’t settle easily at night so at the Plunket nurse’s suggestion I would massage her each night after the others were in bed when we could both be relaxed. It didn’t work straight away but after a few nights she started to get the hang of it and by the time a week was up she would show great pleasure at our quiet time of the day together… a massage, a feed and off she’d go at 8 pm instead of 10 or 11.
  • A bit of ‘white noise’ in the room? Our bub likes it when the dehumidifier is going outside his door!
  • Increased carrying time.  (See: purplecrying.info/sub-pages/soothing/common-sense-and-well-tried-soothing-methods.php)

NB:  Raising the head of the bed is no longer recommended and some studies have shown that “head elevation may not always be of clinical value“.  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-2284.full.pdf and http://www.changeforourchildren.co.nz/files/docs/infant%20positioning%20and%20reflux.pdf https://www.plunket.org.nz/your-child/welcome-to-parenting/sudden-unexpected-death-in-infancy-sudi/ Some health professionals still recommend raising the head of the bed and we would advise that you should only do this after discussion with your own health professional.

© Gastric Reflux Association for the Support of Parents/babies (GRASP) and Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust (GRSNNZ) 2004. Used, edited and added to by GRSNNZ (and parents) with permission.  Updated January 2020.

Page may be printed or reproduced for personal use of families, as long as copyright and Crying Over Spilt Milk‘s URL are included. It may not be copied to other websites or publications without permission and acknowledgement. This information (unedited) was also provided (by GRASP) to health professionals in New Zealand to use ” to continue to support and inform families with babies/children with Gastro-oesophageal Reflux.”