All babies spend a lot of their time crying. Learn your baby’s cries. Crying is your baby’s way of communicating with you. Each time he cries, he is not asking just to be fed. He may want company, his position changed or he may be tired. Learning what certain cries mean will help you meet your baby’s needs more completely. Don’t be afraid to hold your baby as much as you want. It will not spoil him, but it will satisfy his need to be close to you.
When babies cry, they take in a lot of air, which can cause gas. Therefore, it is common for crying to cause gas as opposed to the gas causing your baby to cry.
Colic is a term used to describe an infant who, although happy and content most of the day, has periods of fussiness unrelated to hunger or a wet diaper. These periods of fussiness generally occur in the evening and can last for hours. Fortunately, colic is self-limiting. It usually begins at about 2 weeks and typically subsides by 2 to 3 months of age.
What can be done in the meantime?
The treatment of colic is no more exact than its cause, but there are some basic things you can try. Some of these methods work for some babies, some of the time.
- First, make an appointment to see us to make sure your baby is healthy and has nothing more than colic.
- Feeding time should be quiet and unhurried. Your baby should be fed slowly in an upright position with frequent burping. Make sure your infant is not hungry and is getting enough to eat by reviewing the diet with us.
- Breast-feeding mothers should eliminate coffee, tea and all caffeinated soft drinks during this time.
- Remove cigarette smoke from your colicky infant’s environment. Newborns exposed to passive cigarette smoke are three times more likely to suffer from colic.
- Gentle rocking motions are found to be soothing to some colicky infants, as parents find out when they take their colicky baby for a ride in the car. Any motion, from rocking the cradle to walking your baby in a stroller, is often a magical antidote for a colic attack.
- Your crying infant’s mood might change dramatically when he hears new, repetitious sounds, such as the noise of a vacuum cleaner or clothes dryer.
- Increasing physical contact makes your baby feel warm and secure. A hot-water bottle, filled with WARM water and placed on your baby’s stomach might help. There are several infant carriers that allow more contact and let the parents do chores or take care of other children. Holding your colicky baby too much will not spoil him.
- Play soft music in your baby's room.
- Try wrapping your baby snugly (swaddling) after feeding and before sleep.
- Parents should get all the help they can. Ask a relative or neighbor to take over for a while to care for your baby. Lack of sleep will cause a new mother to lose her strength and confidence, and a tired mother should not feel guilty about leaving her newborn for a while. Having a grandmother take the infant out in a stroller for an hour each day can make a world of difference.
- If your baby is fussy after every feeding, especially if the fussiness is accompanied by arching of the back, gagging and spitting, your infant may have reflux, a condition your doctor may need to treat. Call us if you notice this behavior in your infant.
Above all, be patient. Colic is not your fault, and it won't harm your baby. If your frustrations become overwhelming, call us.
Tips: If Your Baby Won't Stop Crying
Never, ever shake a baby.
Of course this seems like common sense, but the inability to cope with a crying baby has left many parents and caregivers at the end of their rope, resulting in dangerous consequences. Shaking a baby can cause serious and sometimes fatal injurines or permanent disabilities.
If you find yourself becoming impatient, frustrated or overwhelmed when your baby is crying for a long period of time, consider the following steps:
- Place your baby in a safe place such as a crib or playpen, and take a time out.
- Call a friend or relative for emotional support.
- Take a deep breath and count to ten.
- Play music or sing, which will help soothe both you and your baby.
- Always support your baby's head and neck. Sudden movements may startle an infant when their neck muscles are not strong enough to support their head.
- Be aware of overstimulating an infant, especially near bedtime or naptime. Vigorous or loud play can upset the natural winding-down process that prepares a baby for sleep.
- Remember this too shall pass. Consider where you and your child will be in a year or longer, when you can look back on your baby's first months at home and know there will be many more joyous experiences to remember.
- Call your pediatrician - there may be a medical reason why your baby is crying.
Updated February 2016
Caring For Your Newborn