A new program in King County, Washington is providing support to families of fussy newborns. The Fussy Baby Network connects parents of overly fussy newborns with support and resources.
Erin MacDougall and her husband reached out to the Fussy Baby Network when their daughter, Sadie, was eight weeks old and cried at a more frequent than normal basis.
“It was 15 times a day when we would have explosive crying sessions,” said MacDougall. “It’s very difficult to describe to someone, if they’ve never experienced it directly, when you have someone crying at the top of their lungs at you all day long. I don’t know how anyone would not feel like you would lose your control.”
MacDougall was at a loss of ways to soothe her daughter and felt helpless in the situation.
“I just kept holding her and loving her and hoping it would be OK, it was very hard,” MacDougall said.
While all newborns cry, The Fussy Baby Network estimates that one-in-five babies is fussy and this impacts the parents’ attitudes towards the child and prevents bonding.
The Fussy Baby Network’s support program begins with a visit to the family’s home to identify needs and possible ways to help.
“It’s really centered on whatever the parent’s urgent concern is” Clinician Emily Anderson explained. “It’s really, really painful to be with a baby who you’re trying to help and they’re just not responding. Our message is: we don’t want anyone to worry alone.”
The network helps parents look for ways to soothe their crying child and provides emotional support to give parents hope that they can connect with their child.
After eight months of participating in the program, MacDougall began to see improvements with her daughter. Sadie now has a strong bond with her parents and older sister.
“I feel like it saved me” MacDougall said. “I don’t know if I would have made it past the deep anxiety and frustration I was experiencing.”
MacDougall encourages other parents to get support early to avoid becoming overwhelmed. “Parents need so much more help than they’re getting to thrive as a family and when you have a fussy baby; you need layers upon layers of more help,” MacDougall said.