How to Know if You Have a Colicky Baby

How to Know if You Have a Colicky Baby

Babies cry. That may sound like a no-brainer, but even the leading pediatric associations felt the need to put out stats to assure parents that crying is a completely normal part of infancy. In fact, the only way your baby can communicate with you is through whimpers and wails. 

However, there is a distinct difference between normal crying and colic. And that difference can be overwhelming. 

Dr. Megan Dillman and our team at MD² don’t want you to find yourself at the end of your rope trying to soothe a colicky baby by yourself. Here, we give you the best information so you can recognize colic and nip it in the bud before you and your bundle of joy lose any more sleep. 

When it’s colic

Colic is when a healthy baby cries for a very long time for no apparent reason. What’s a very long time? Think of it this way: It’s normal for a baby to cry for 2-3 hours a day during their first six weeks. Your baby may have colic if:

Colicky crying is usually louder, more high-pitched, and more urgent-sounding than your baby’s “regular” crying. It can be difficult or even impossible to soothe a colicky baby. Other symptoms may include:

Colic may even interfere with how quickly your baby grows and gains weight. 

The causes

Colic usually comes on suddenly and takes many parents by surprise. Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes colic, and there are no known risk factors, but there are a few theories about where it comes from. Some say that a colicky baby simply struggles to adjust to their new world. The lights, sounds, and smells can be jarring, especially in the first few weeks of life. 

Others point to an inability to soothe themselves, overstimulation, a still-developing nervous system, problems with gas, and/or a milk allergy or intolerance. 

What to do about it

Though colic usually goes away on its own by age 3-4 months, it can be incredibly stressful for parents. It’s important to know that you don’t have to wait out a colicky baby — there’s help for even the fussiest baby. 

If you suspect your baby has colic, we begin by discussing their symptoms and health history. Dr. Dillman performs a physical exam and asks specific questions about the nature of your baby’s crying fits. We may even use additional diagnostic tools, such as blood tests or X-rays, to rule out underlying health conditions. 

If we determine that your baby has colic, we begin creating an action plan with you. It may seem like a helpless situation, but there are many ways to approach colic. 

For instance, if you bottle feed, we may have you start by changing the type of bottle you use. A curved bottle lets you hold your baby upright, which can keep your baby from becoming overly gassy. You may also try:

We may also recommend switching formulas if you bottle feed or making changes to your diet if you breastfeed. 

Above all, we want you to know that no two babies are the same. What works for your friend’s colicky baby may not work for yours. We encourage you to keep trying and let us be an active member of your baby’s care

We also recommend that you recognize you need a break every once in a while. You can’t help your baby get through this phase if you’re not at your best. Allow friends and family members to pitch in and help you as much as possble. 

Having a colicky baby can be stressful, but you don’t have to do it alone. Don’t spend another day hoping your baby will get through this phase. Call or click to schedule an appointment with Dr. Dillman today. 

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