During the month following birth, babies try to fit into life outside the womb. Birth and adaptation to postnatal life brings out the temperament of a child. Therefore, crying is the only way to have his/her needs met. There is a wide spectrum of types of crying. At the quieter end is the baby who fusses to be picked up, but is easily comforted and satisfied as long as he/she is held. At the other extreme is the inconsolably crying baby. Fussy babies are poor fitters. They do not resign themselves easily to the level of care they are being given. They need more and they fuss to get it.
Here are a few suggestions on how to manage a fussy child:
- Younger babies might be taking two naps a day, but toddlers are often seen resisting taking a nap. Parents can play around with different nap times to come up with a new sleep schedule.
- Toddlers are hyper-independent and are likely to scream if parents set forth limits. Parents should think of activities where a child can roam around freely and play, like parks and malls or at play centers.
- Parents should learn to ignore the child’s fussiness and focus on positive behavior. If the toddler correctly communicates what he/she needs instead of whining, parents should not hesitate to comply with his/her request. By ignoring the whining and focusing on the positive, the child understands that positive behavior is the best way to get the item or attention he/she wants.
- Keeping toddlers interested is key to prevent the child from being too fussy. Be it bath time or play dough time, the more the child is distracted from the things which make him/her fussy, the better.
Most toddlers go through a phase of eating a very narrow range of foods. This is a normal part of their development. This is called neophobia or the fear of new foods. Most children will experience neophobia around the age of two. This is just a passing phase.
Parents may try the following tips for making mealtimes run smoothly:
- Parents should make meal times a family affair. Eating the same food as the toddler will teach him/her to eat new food by watching the parents.
- Meal times should be relaxing and enjoyable.
- Eat away from distractions such as TV, games and toys. Distractions will make it more difficult for the child to concentrate on eating. The child needs to learn that meal times are for eating and playing can be done later or before.
- Parents should make positive comments about the food they are eating. Positive comments like, “These are yummy”, will make the toddler more willing to try them.
- A good thumb rule is to give the child a small portion of food, the size of his fist. Toddlers can be overwhelmed by big platefuls and lose their appetite.
- Parents may try to involve the toddler while laying the table or while shopping for food. This will encourage a positive attitude to food and mealtimes.