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Coping with a ‘colicky’ baby

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My newborn daughter cries continually, no matter what I do. I try holding her and comforting her, but she keeps crying. Am I doing anything wrong? What does this mean for her health?

If you are concerned about the health of your newborn, it is always best to be safe and have the baby examined by a pediatrician. However, many new parents experience what you are describing in the first few weeks following their baby’s birth. Be sure that your baby eats and naps often, as she could be reacting to hunger or sleepiness. If your baby continues to cry with the same intensity, she may have colic.

Colic is defined as a condition of a healthy baby showing periods of intense, unexplained crying that lasts more than three hours a day, more than three days a week for more than three weeks. Colic usually disappears by 3 or 4 months of age. While there is no single cause for colic, several factors may be contributing to your baby’s discomfort.

Many formula-fed infants cannot properly digest cow’s milk or lactose and, as a result, cry from the discomfort. Babies are also prone to acid reflux and excessive gas, due to their underdeveloped digestive tracts. If you or your doctor suspects that the formula is causing the problem, you may be able to decrease your baby’s distress through trial and error. If you are formula feeding, try switching to a soy formula for a week to see if the infant seems more comfortable.

Burping a baby frequently during feeding also decreases air swallowing, which means less gas and discomfort.

Remedies for medical and digestive causes of colic include acid-reflux medication, herbal teas, and anti-gas drops. However, you should never treat your infant without first talking with her pediatrician. Not all teas or over-the-counter medications are safe for babies.

If the problem does not appear to be food related, parents may want to try changing the baby’s sensory stimulation. Some infants do not like a very lively environment and are hypersensitive to loud noises and bright lights. White noise, such as static from a radio, is sometimes helpful. Many infants also respond well to classical music playing softly in the background. Try lowering the lights to help calm the baby.

Finally, many new parents find that their baby enjoys the movement of taking a ride in a stroller or car. If the weather is pleasant, consider taking the baby out to soothe the crying.

Some parents may find that they cannot stop colic completely. While a constantly crying baby can be frustrating, it does not indicate that you are a bad parent. Rest assured that you will have many joys ahead with your child. You just need to get through this difficult period. If you feel tense from the constant crying and need a break, ask a friend or family member to watch the child for a little while, so that you can clear your mind or catch up on some rest.

Updated 4:31 pm, July 9, 2018
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