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Do You Have a Colicky Baby – or is it Something Else?

colicky baby

We’ve all heard the horror story of the colicky baby.

In-laws love to regale us with tales of how our significant others cried nonstop as infants; friends find new and inventive ways to describe sleepless nights caring for their wailing children; or we’re simply attempting to survive the aural onslaught ourselves without going completely mad.

It is believed that up to 40 percent of infants suffer from colic, which is colloquially defined as screaming and/or high-pitched crying in infants without any apparent cause.

In addition to fatigue, bewildered parents are often left with intense feelings of guilt and shame as a result of their inability to help.

A colicky baby is generally diagnosed by his or her adherence to the Rule of 3: crying for 3 hours per day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks a month. It typically develops between 3-6 weeks of age, and can last until a baby is 3-6 months old.  Often manifesting more prominently at nighttime, babies often clench their fists and draw their arms and legs toward their stomach, while screeching inconsolably.

Unfortunately, treatments are few for colic, and largely involve positioning and motion, such as rocking, gentle swinging, and car rides. Luckily, it is largely believed to be a self-limiting ailment, and ultimately benign.

Persistent crying in an infant could be a sign of an illness or infection, however, and seeking the advice of a pediatric specialist is always advised.

A colicky baby generally has a good appetite, sucking reflex, and is otherwise healthy. If your child’s cries are accompanied by any of the seven following red flags, seek medical attention:

  • Unexplained weight loss and/or trouble eating
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Rash or eczema
  • A nagging cough
  • Stools with mucus or blood
  • Lethargy

Organic causes and conditions occur in less than 5 percent of babies with excessive crying, but could include:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). This condition is caused when stomach acid backs up into a child’s esophagus causing painful reflux. Symptoms include spitting up and crying during feedings.
  • Heart defects. One in 100 babies is born with a heart defect. Signs include blue lips and rapid breathing.
  • Lactose intolerance or cow milk allergy. Children who have a family history are more likely to suffer from these reactions.
  • Blood, bladder, or other infections. A skin rash accompanying unrelenting cries could signify an infection. See your doctor.

If your baby has been diagnosed with colic, but your instincts are telling you otherwise – don’t delay. Make an appointment with a pediatric provider and put your mind at ease.

Remember, KinderMender is here to serve you throughout 2017. We are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Visit one of our three Maryland locations in Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Laurel.

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