Very simply, babies fuss for the same reasons adults fuss: they hurt either physically or emotionally, or they need something. 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 is held. At the other extreme is the baby who hurts – the inconsolably crying baby who merits the label “colicky.”
1. FUSSES TO FIT While in the womb, the preborn baby fits perfectly into his environment. Perhaps there will never be another home in which he fits so harmoniously – a free-floating environment where the temperature is constant and his nutritional needs are automatically and predictably met. The womb environment is well organized. These babies miss the womb.
Birth suddenly disrupts this organization. During the month following birth, baby tries to regain his sense of organization and fit into life outside the womb. Birth and adaptation to postnatal life bring out the temperament of the baby, so for the first time he must do something to have his needs met. He is forced to act, to “behave.” If hungry, cold, or startled, he cries. He must make an effort to get the things he needs from his caregiving environment. If his needs are simple and he can get what he wants easily, he’s labeled an “easy baby”; if he does not adapt readily, he is labeled “difficult.” He doesn’t fit. Fussy babies are poor fitters, who don’t resign themselves easily to the level of care they are being given. They need more, and they fuss to get it.
3. BABY HURTS (see Colic)