Why is my baby so cranky?

Why is my baby so cranky?

When your baby is crying, cranky and clingy, it usually indicates that they are about to make a major leap forward in mental development.

When my baby was still very new, everything she did seemed remarkable to me. She latched without fuss. Amazing! She pooped 5 times a day. Wonderful! She slept 6 hours the night before. Great! She rarely ever cried or fussed. I thought I was just the luckiest mother ever with an easy baby.

All that changed when she entered her 5th week. The mild tempered, easy going baby who slept most of the day and night had morphed into a crying, clingy little monster who would sleep for no more than 2 hours without waking up to scream for something.

That was really nerve-wracking, especially when I didn’t know why she was changing and what I was doing wrong. Making everything worse were the well meaning relatives who fussed and tutted everytime the baby started to cry: “See you should have put her in a buai sarong, babies sleep better in them!” “Give her water to drink at night instead of milk, she will learn not to cry!” “Maybe your breastmilk is not enough, try some formula!” Based on all the advice received, no one really knew what was going on.

Then I discovered the Wonder Weeks  app. It is based on a parenting book by Dutch husband and wife academic team Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij who had spent 35 years studying and documenting interactions between mothers and babies.

They discovered that difficult periods characterised by the three Cs: Crying, Crankiness and Clinginess, usually indicate that a baby is about to make a major leap forward in mental development.

A leap in your baby's mental development means that suddenly there are many great changes in his head. Suddenly, his brain perceives things it wasn’t capable of perceiving before. These leaps happen very frequently in the first year, and changes the life of your baby drastically. So there’s a good reason why they are upset.

However this is a positive thing as it means that your baby is progressing. As babies all undergo these fussy phases at around the same ages, this app gives you something like a timeline or calendar on when the fussy periods happen, the behaviors baby will display and the skills they are mastering, all of which are surprisingly accurate. So much so that some parents call it a crystal ball into their baby!

If your baby is displaying any of the behaviours below, a leap may be happening:

  • Eats less
  • Sleeps less or wakes up a lot of the times
  • Seems to go back in his development instead of forwards
  • Cries more
  • Is cranky
  • Clings to you all the time
  • Is not satisfied, no matter what you do.

So although I couldn’t do anything to stop the crankiness, it was certainly a great relief to know that this was all normal and not a result of anything I was doing wrong. And true enough to the timeline, very soon my baby’s “stormy” weeks became “sunny” again!

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Hanna Lee

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