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Causes of a Fussy Baby

author image Sarah Thompson
Sarah Thompson has been a writer since 2006. She has contributed to Ohio-based publications such as "CityScene" and "Dublin Life" magazines, as well as Columbus' top alternative weekly, "The Other Paper." Thompson has also written for several online outlets, including Smashing Magazine and Web Designer Depot. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, sexuality studies and visual communication design from Ohio State University.
Causes of a Fussy Baby
A crying baby. Photo Credit: Yelena Kovalenko/iStock/Getty Images

Fussy babies tend to experience the same symptoms: crying inconsolably, clenching their fists, grimacing and drawing their legs up toward the abdomen. Sometimes fussiness indicates hunger, sleepiness or a needed diaper change. However, sometimes your baby may become fussy with no cause and no instant fix. This can be the signal of different underlying problems ranging from simple to serious.

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A common cause of fussiness is teething. Teething generally occurs when your baby is six months and will continue until she is about 3-years old. Other symptoms include swollen gums, excessive dribbling, poor appetite, rejection or increased interest in breast or bottle-feeding and chewing on fingers or objects. Symptoms may worsen with the first teeth, as the feeling is new, and with molars, because of their size. To alleviate pain, try baby pain relievers as recommended by a doctor or distraction by cuddling and rocking her. You can try baby teething gels if she is older than four months.

Ear Infection

The biggest indicator of an ear infection in a baby is a change in mood and an onslaught of fussiness. Ear infections tend to arrive after a cold or a sinus infection and are accompanied by fever, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and your baby’s tendency to tug at his ear. Sometimes a whitish fluid or blood may leak from his ear, which is a surefire indication of an ear infection, but it will clear up once the ear is treated by a physician.

Stomach Virus

If your baby has become fussy and is also experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills, she may have a stomach virus. The second most common American illness, and experienced by most infants about twice a year, the stomach virus is highly contagious. Babies contract the virus many ways, including ingesting contaminated items, sharing contaminated products with others and ingesting fecal matter. Contact your physician as soon as you suspect a stomach virus. Also contact a doctor if your baby experiences persistent vomiting and a distended abdomen, as this could indicate a more serious infection.


Colic is, for most babies, the worst pain they have experienced. It is most common in the first few weeks to four months of infant life and rarely goes past six months, according to the Colic Calm website. Colic is caused by different reasons in different babies, but generally the causes include allergic reactions, acid reflux, immature digestive and nervous system, or gas-producing foods. In addition to fussiness and prolonged crying, usual symptoms include intense cramping, abdominal bloating, and gastric or intestinal pains. Contact your pediatrician for the complete range of colic treatments, which may include medicine and dietary changes.

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