The cry of a newborn can be one of the most distressing things to parents. Infants typically cry more during the first 3 months of life than in any other time. In some cases, we can define these crying episodes as infantile colic.
Colic follows the “rules of 3”. It is defined clinically as crying for no apparent reason that lasts for more than or equal to three hours per day and occurs on more than or equal to three days per week in an otherwise healthy infant less than three months of age. Colic is sometimes also referred to as “the period of purple crying”. Colic is equally common between males and females, breast and formula-fed infants, and full-term and preterm infants. Colicky crying usually occurs during the evening.
It is very important that a newborn with new onset excessive crying receive a physical evaluation by a health care provider in order to rule out potential causes of the fussiness, aside from simple infantile colic. There are a few helpful first-line management strategies for infants who have been diagnosed with colic by a health care provider:
- Parental support and education: look to the light at the end of the colicky tunnel-colic usually resolves by 3-4 months of age! Things will get better. If you are concerned about your infant, follow up with your pediatrician and discuss your worries. It is important to keep an open channel of communication with your pediatrician in order for you to get reassurance and have a resource for strategies to help you manage during this trying time. Your baby does not have colic because of something you did wrong. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lay the infant in a safe place (on infant’s back in the crib) and take a five-minute mental break in the next room. It is also a good idea to reach out to family and friends for support during this time. If possible, ask a support person to watch your baby for an hour in order for you have some self-care time-trust me, it can go a long way!
- Feeding techniques: Research has shown that sometimes adjusting the way a bottle-fed infant is fed can reduce colicky episodes. Try feeding the baby in a vertical position and burping your infant frequently throughout the feed to reduce the amount of swallowed air. It may be helpful to consult with a lactation consultant regarding management of any breastfeeding issues.
- Ways to soothe: Try different soothing techniques and see if any of them work well with your infant.
- Walk in stroller or ride in the car
- Gently swaying/rocking the infant
- Hold the infant in a front carrier or baby wrap
- Use an infant swing (but please do not let infant sleep in the swing-that is not safe!)
- Give infant a warm bath
- Gently massage the infant’s tummy
- Swaddle the infant
- Play “white noise” (vacuum cleaner, clothes drier, dishwasher, white noise sounds on Youtube, or sound machine)
As always, it is important to consult with your pediatrician for any concerns you have regarding your child. When there is a change in a child’s behavior such as excessive fussiness or crying, a physical exam by a pediatrician is necessary in order to rule out causes of excessive crying other than colic.
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care opened in 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. With multiple locations in San Antonio and Dallas, they are open seven days a week with extended evening hours and see walk-in patients or through an online check-in system. They accept most commercial insurance and Medicaid plans. More information about Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care can be found at www.littlespurspedi.com.