Further Reading

My baby is crying and crying! Is my baby colicky?

By Maria Diaz, MD FAAP

Yes, your baby may be colicky. Colic babies cry excessively and inconsolably for no good reason. They are not hungry, sick, wet, or tired. They are otherwise healthy babies.

These episodes are usually at night. The crying turns into screaming, and babies are very hard to calm, which can make parents feel desperate and frustrated thinking there is something really wrong with their baby. About 40% of infants have colic. Colic usually starts when a baby is around 3 weeks old, gets worse by 6 weeks, but may resolve by 3-4 months of age. The general rule is the crying lasts at least 3 or more hours a day, at least 3 times a week, and for at least 3 weeks in a row.

Colic babies clench their fists when crying, their face turns red, and they flail their legs. Sometimes they feel better after passing gas or having a bowel movement. The cause for colic is not known but the following can make the crying worse:
• Food allergies or sensitivities like cow’s milk
• Gastroesophageal reflux with frequent spitting-up, poor eating, and irritability during and after feedings
• Immature digestive tract where breastmilk or formula is not well digested
• Overfeeding, underfeeding, or infrequent burping
• Family stress or anxiety
• Tobacco exposure during or after pregnancy

What can you do?
Try to stay calm and take a deep breath. If your baby has a fever, is not feeding well, has diarrhea or vomiting, or is less awake or alert than usual, call your doctor immediately. Try to console your baby, but don’t do multiple things at the same time. Don’t overstimulate. Perhaps play soothing music, swaddle, use a pacifier, make white noise with a vacuum cleaner or a dryer, or just go for a ride.

If you think your baby is having tummy issues, place your baby across your lap on his or her belly and rub the back. Make sure you burp your baby more often during feedings. If you are breastfeeding, watch what you eat. You can also try gas drops, probiotics, or switch formulas, but ask your doctor first.

Do not shake your baby when crying. Shaking a baby can cause serious damage to the brain and death. Remember this is going to pass, is just one of the many challenges of being parents. Always call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.