Calming Fussy Preemie Babies

Lynsey Keep, RN
family hug

Every baby is precious to his or her parents, and in the case of preemie infants the urge to protect and keep the infant safe can be even more overwhelming following a difficult start in life, so calming fussy preemie babies can be an issue.

Wrapping Up in Cotton Wool

A newborn infant receives lots of kisses and cuddles, and in the first few weeks of life is overwhelmed with displays of affection from family and friends. For a preemie baby particularly one who is wired up to monitors and pumps, the ability to do these natural things may be hindered by a physical divide between infant and parents.

To not be able to hold a newborn tight and shower him with affection can be truly heartbreaking. As a consequence of having a 'miracle baby', many parents go overboard with affection when they are finally able to. We all want the best for our children and to protect them as much as we can, but when a child has survived difficult times and possibly faced death there is an urge to want to wrap him up in cotton wool so that he come to no harm.

It is important to remember the short and long term consequences of doing so, as often is the case that parents then struggle to calm fussy preemie babies, and this can be a strong issue to contend with.

The Natural Approach: Calming Fussy Preemie Babies

Preemie babies can get stressed easily particularly when the routine which is instilled in the neonatal unit is no longer there. Feeding, bathing and sleeping routines are strictly adhered to, and preemies often get used to these patterns, even after a short time.

Initially some parents feel inferior to the experienced nursing staff and often doubt their ability to sooth and pacify their newborn at times when she may be distressed. The secret to calming fussy preemie babies is for parents to remain 100 percent calm themselves. All infants preemie or otherwise have amazing instinct and can detect the slightest anxiety or stress.

Parents of preemie infants need to take on a sturdy and robust approach to parenting and agree from the time the infant goes home that they will adjust quickly to a routine which is not reliant on hospital care. If the infant is unsettled in the first few days then this is only to be expected. However, within a week the fussy cries and poor routine should be well under control. Parents should stick to their original plans. If they planned before the premature birth that baby would sleep from day one in the nursery, then so be it. Do not allow what has happened before to deter well made plans.

The important thing to remember is that the infant will not be particularly affected by what has happened in the hospital environment. However, he or she may have grown used to the beeping of alarms and other familiar sounds that would have been heard frequently since birth. If this is the case, then the infant may actually be more phased and upset by a lack of noise and tip-toeing around may not be the answer.

Fussy: What is Fussy?

Fussy preemies are not uncommon. We probably call them fussy because they do not always conform to the 'text book' baby, but then again how many babies actually do? If fussy relates to feeding, then it is simply a case of perseverance with the chosen technique. If the infant appears unsettled for a while, it will do her no harm, and the same applies to sleeping. A change of environment unsettles anybody, especially a newborn, so allow some settling in time, and eventually things will be just fine.

The best advice is not to view the infant as fussy, just a little unsettled after a traumatic time. Even older children can be fussy, and there is usually a good reason for this, which can be dealt with once the underlying cause is identified. Remain calm and focused, and baby will settle in just fine.

Calming Fussy Preemie Babies