Does My Baby Have Colic?


“My baby cries SO much! How do I know if something is really wrong?

Babies cry for lots of reasons: because they are hungry; because they want their
diaper changed; because something is poking them; because they need to burp or
pass gas; because they want to be picked up and held; because they want to have a
change of scenery or perhaps just because they are babies and don’t know what they
want! Sometimes they cry and you can not figure out what they want or need! This
is frustrating for new parents….and for baby too.

Medical professionals often suspect colic “if a baby cries more than 3 hours a day,
more than three days a week, for more than three weeks”. This is not too helpful to
the parents who are home with a screaming baby….even for one day crying for more
than three hours!!

Most babies go through phases in which they cry more. Newborns are born to be
demanding….it is survival. They must demand feeding frequently to get the mothers
milk supply to come in (first week) and then at regular intervals to keep up with
growth. Newborns demand to be close and beheld because to not be would go
against their will to survive. Since crying is a form of communication, new parents
(especially first time parents) have to learn the language of their baby. In the first
month this means trying “everything”. Going through a list in your head….or written
down for those who are so sleepy they can not even remember what day it is!
Remember 20% of all parents with a baby think their baby may “have it”, the
dreaded “colic”. Most often, they are first time parents, since they have limited
experience and tend to be more anxious and less confident.

Try This:

Is baby hungry?….offer breast, or if bottle feeding offer, formula or
breastmilk by the Paced Bottle Feeding Method:

This method results in a happier, less gassy baby…while breast IS best, Paced
feeding is better than having the baby suck the feeding down as fast as possible.
Paced Bottle Feeding results in less gas, less overfeeding, and a more satisfying
experience for the baby.

Does baby have a gas bubble? Breastfeeding babies may not need burping,
but some do….so try. If there is an air bubble, it may come up later with breast milk,
or formula with it. Some babies really need to not be laid flat after a feeding. Amore
up right or reclined position helps them to avoid regurgitation of ½ of their
feeding….which they often do with little or no effort!

Does baby need a change? Some babies do not like being wet or soiled….of
course they do not like being changed either!

Perhaps there is too much stimulation. Loud noises, music, visitors. Often
baby will “shut down” and sleep during big events….only to be up all night crying.
Babies have different levels of comfort with stimulation. Look for patterns and then
help your baby by avoiding over stimulation. Some babies love those white noise
machines or the Lub Dub recording of the mothers heart beat….better would be
your heart beat! Remember, on the biological level, survival is being with your

Does you baby like being swaddled? Held? It is normal…all infants mammals
respond with great protest if mom is not close by….learn to carry your baby and
recruit dad, grandparents, aunties, to do the same. You will not spoil your baby!
Babies who have their needs met as babies actually grow to be more confident

Is your baby too warm? Often fear of the baby getting cold will cause parents
to over heat the baby. Dress the baby in layers. Hands and feet are usually cooler
than the rest of the baby. If the baby’s scalp is perspiring….he/her is too hot!

So what else can you do? After you have looked for all of the possible logical causes consider these options:

Distraction: Go for a walk with the baby. In a stroller perhaps…place the baby on a
light weight baby blanket so it is easier to get the baby out of the stroller and into
bed. Babies love being out side.

Motion: Swings, rockers, baby chairs that vibrate, even a car ride can do the trick!
One mom told me she set up the car seat on top of the dryer trying to mimic the car
where the baby loved to sleep!

Colic Holds: Hold the baby in a position that the tummy is supported, like across
your forearm. This can help the baby to pass gas also.
Infant massage: Some babies love massages and will sleep 2-3 hours after a
massage. Sometimes it is mom who needs the massage!

Bath: The bath is a love/hate relationship….sometimes they start off like torture, but
once settled in the warm water….they love it. Try taking a bath with your baby…you
both will feel better. This is a common trick to getting an older child ready for bed. The routine of the bath prepares them for getting ready to sleep.

Probiotics: A study published in December 2017 has helped medical care providers
realize that probiotics can help some babies with colic. Most health insurances will
pay for probiotics, if they are ordered by your health care provider. The increased use of antibiotics in birth has increased the need for babies to be supplemented with
normal bacteria that helps with digestion. Both mom and baby can take probiotics.

Get help and support from other mothers: Mom’s groups, breastfeeding support
groups, even just meeting other mothers at the park or play ground can help you
learn things that other mothers have done to help with a fussy baby.

Rosanne Gephart, MSN, NP, CNM

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