Babies were supposed to coo and smile, right? If you’re wondering why you’ve got an angry baby on your hands, here are a few big reasons.
I’ll never forget when my oldest child started being so angry, around 12 months old.
I lived in Australia at the time, and called my mom back in Florida. I told her I was certain that my beautiful baby went to sleep happy then woke up hating me.
It wasn’t like she was more whiny than normal, because that is pretty easily linked to lack of sleep or proper routine.
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No… she was straight up angry.
This went on a few weeks. Turns out, she had a food sensitivity and the milk was upsetting her tummy. But, for many moms with their angry babies, it isn’t about food sensitivities.
Look, when babies are well fed, well-rested, and not over-stimulated they are generally not angry, so THERE IS HOPE.
Read on for strategies to turn your angry baby into a calm and peaceful one.
Habits That Make Babies Angry
Some babies are more spirited than others. Some are “angel babies” or “textbook babies” and are more or less easy to calm.
Here are some habits that contribute to baby being angry and irritable, day or night.
Some moms seriously underestimate the amount of time in a day that babies need to sleep. It’s actually shocking how much sleep they need.
If your little one has gone more than an hour or two (up until about 3 months of age) or more than a few hours (up until about a year) without sleeping… they are probably angry because they’re tired.
Keeping baby up longer will not make baby sleep better, it will make them sleep worse. If your baby yawns, rubs their eyes, stares off into space, or has been up for a while then assume they’re tired.
In that case, do not do a long wind down routine, do not run errands, put baby immediately in bed.
Pain & Discomfort
It goes without saying that pain and discomfort make babies angry. Pain and discomfort makes all of us angry.
Maybe you have hyper-lactation or baby has reflux, there could be some teething going on, or even an ear ache.
⭐ The general rule of thumb is this: if you offer pain relief to baby and they start acting normal… start digging deeper.
It’s a good idea to eliminate pain, discomfort, or illness as reasons for baby’s mood before you start making some big changes. If baby has an ear ache, for example, you won’t get very far with sleep independence.
Fast, simple, and free strategies to implement if baby can’t get to sleep, won’t *stay* asleep, or is unsettled in general.
When the lights, sounds, and loving cuddles from siblings gets too much, babies can become angry and agitated. Babies love being around family members and often thrive in the fresh air!
But, like adults, it can get overwhelming. If you notice baby starts looking away from those playing with them or crying, you can try a few things.
- Tell the sibling to move physically away a bit, to give baby some space
- Turn the lights down slightly. Bright lights are good associations to help reverse day night confusion, but if there is noise, bright lights, loud siblings, etc. all together it can be too much.
- Establish a consistent wind down routine for baby. Don’t just take a baby from a loud room to a quiet one and put him in the crib. Instead, do a wind down routine to help baby transition from active play into sleep mode.
Because you won’t leave baby alone
Here’s one situation that often occurs and it confuses moms. Here’s what happens
Mom puts baby to bed, and baby is crying. Mom picks up baby and tries to rock her and shush and hold her to calm her down. Baby starts arching her back angrily, and gets fussier and fussier.
Mom gets distressed and then says, “Okay, forget it, we’ll try again later,” and then calls naptime quits.
THIS IS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN.
Babies arch their back and fight moms at bedtime because they are trying get to sleep. They are working off steam and, typically, if you put baby back down and let them get back to it, they’ll drift off to sleep in no time.
Babies need sleep and if they are trying to get to sleep and mom keeps interfering because she’s worried baby’s cries are damaging them… you’ll create a cycle of exhaustion.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
Baby’s hot or cold
I’ll never forget when my baby started waking up every night for days. He was inconsolable and I was getting frantic!
Finally, one morning I had a thought… could he be cold?
That night, I gave him an extra layer or two. And guess what? No more night wakings! Generally speaking, babies need about one more layer than we adults do.
If baby is too hot (it’s a SIDS hazard) or too cold, they’ll be upset. The optimal temperature as per the American Academy of Pediatrics is between 68 and 72 degrees.
Baby needs a better, more consistent routine
Moms may not like routines, but babies do.
You don’t have to watch the clock all day, but still, babies like predictability. And, truth be told, when you get into a good routine, baby’s mood improves so significantly that you end up liking the routine too.
Age appropriate routines have the following habits
- Feeding times that are regular and predictable
- Nap times that are predictable, without too much gap between
- An early enough bedtime that baby gets all those before midnight restorative hours of sleep (babies often wake up earlier in the mornings the later they go to bed)
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
FAQs on angry baby behavior
Babies can get agitated, overwhelmed, and over-stimulated which can result in their appearing angry or out of control. This can be overtiredness, pain, over-stimulation, or frustration. The key to preventing this type of behavior (medical issues aside) is enough food, enough rest, and enough nurture.
Yes! The key is to make sure that you are meeting your baby’s need for food and sleep in a healthy way so they are content. When baby is content, you are content. If you are worn out and frustrated and baby is crying a lot, you may need some support to help you calm down and be the mom you want to be.
Babies are human from conception! They will have physical reactions and physiological reactions as soon as they are born, and emotions will come as a result of that. They will smile when happy by 2 or 3 months, cry when frustrated, etc.