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Study: Fussy Babies Linked to ADHD Risk

Researchers Say Excessive Crying, Sleeping Problems in Infants May Be Linked to Behavioral Problems

What Is ‘Excessive’ Crying? continued...

Reach out to other parents who may have tips and advice, she says.

“Many babies are overstimulated and they cry more and don’t sleep as well or digest as well and may be distracted during feeds. So almost any parent feels that they must not be doing something right and need to do more and it can be a vicious cycle,” she says.

Family risk factors do have a role in this, Glass says.

“New parents often don’t have the kind of extended family support that is needed or that extra pair of hands to hold a fussy baby a little bit longer, and they may become more anxious about trying to get the baby to sleep at night,” she says. “When parents can be helped, everybody calms down.”

“Other factors can lead to fussy babies, including prenatal stress or stress during birth,” she says. Regardless of the cause, “help with early behavioral problems tends to have a positive effect on children and parents.”

Schedules for Babies

So how do you know if your baby is just being a baby, or if he or she has regulatory issues and may be at-risk for behavioral problems in the future?

“If babies are fussy and cry for six or more hours a day and have difficulty feeding and sleeping, it can be stressful in the house,” says Atlanta-based pediatric nurse Jennifer Walker, RN, co-author (along with Laura Hunter) of The Moms on Call Guide to Basic Baby Care.

Some fussiness during the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. is expected, she says. “Babies have a need to get a certain amount of energy out every day.”

Find out what type of routine or schedule is normal for an infant at certain ages and stages, and see how your baby measures up.

For example, “anything goes during the first two weeks, but from two weeks to three months, you can expect a feeding every 2.5 to three hours and two 4.5- to five-hour stretches of sleep at night. After that the goal is a nine- to 12-hour stretch each night,” she says.

Sometimes some simple troubleshooting is all it takes to go from fussy to easy going.

For babies under 3 months of age, a swaddling makes a big difference in their ability to fall asleep, she says. “Keep feedings to about 30 minutes.”

“Babies cry for a lot of reasons, not just hunger, so feeding on command may not be a good option,” Walker says. “Most fussy babies will grow out of it, but we can fix their schedule and sleeping.”

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