Common Newborn Care Worries: Understanding and Dealing with Colic 

young mother holding her crying baby son in her arms

For parents-to-be who have spent the last nine months decorating the baby room, collecting a closet full of diapers, and choosing out the cutest baby clothes, the reality hits all at once. Usually, in the first few weeks, when an equally daunting pile of questions and worries begin to hurl sleep out the door. 

Having a newborn in your midst is thrilling but it can also be terrifying, especially for new parents. It is not uncommon to want to call your doctor at every turn as you encounter doubts and common conditions. Of course, when in doubt, call your doctor or go to your nearest pediatric urgent care, but below find some information that might put you at ease or give you a little background information on one of the most common newborn concerns: crying. 

What is Colic and When Should I Worry? 

Pediatricians and physicians will define colic as a healthy baby crying for no obvious reason. It doesn’t help much to ease the doubts of parents but a clear reason for colic has not yet been identified. According to John Hopkins, colic is most common during the first six weeks of life. 

Consistent and relentless crying is not only worrying for parents, but it quickly becomes stressful, robs parents of sleep, and easily evaporates the ability to think straight. The worst part is the incessant questions of “what am I doing wrong?”  or “is my baby in pain?” 

Colic is characterized by crying that:

  • Lasts for more than 3 hours a day
  • Happens more than 3 days a week
  • Occurs for more than 3 weeks

How Do I Identify Colic Crying? 

Crying is the main way that your baby communicates. As you listen closely, you will begin to recognize different types of cries. Your baby’s cry when hungry will vary slightly from their cry when they are scared. 

Common reasons for your baby crying include:

  • Hunger: Your baby might cry because he is hungry and needs to be fed. 
  • Sleepiness: Babies cry when they are tired, sleepy, and fussy. 
  • Full: Perhaps your baby was overfed and they are a little uncomfortable.
  • Dirty diaper: When their little behind is dirty, your baby will let you know. 
  • Pain: If your baby is actually experiencing some discomfort. 

Colic crying will be continuous and will not appear to be caused by any of the above reasons. Colicky crying is often described as louder, more high-pitched, and contains an urgency to it that can be very confusing for parents. As a pediatric urgent care clinic, Pediatrics on Demand has seen plenty of colicky babies and understands the concerns of parents. 

Parents can help their babies by trying to soothe them. Every baby is different, but a few things that have proven to be effective include: 

  • Rocking your baby 
  • Walking your baby
  • Warm baths
  • Singing or humming softly
  • Present your baby with fun toys or interesting shapes that draw their attention

So What’s the Good News? 

The good news is that colic will typically go away on its own. Data suggests that by 3 months of age, most colic cases have subsided, with most going away by 6 months of age. On the bright side, most cases won’t last more than a few weeks. On top of it all, colic is not harmful or dangerous. 

Common Theories About What Causes Colic 

While there is no set cause identified, there are a few common threads and theories that have emerged over the years as people have sought to understand this: 

  • Tummy problems. One of the common theories revolves around some form or degree of indigestion, gas, or gastrointestinal discomfort. Others suggest that the increase in gas in colicky babies can be due to the swallowing of more air during crying. 
  • Food allergy or intolerance. John Hopkins also suggests that a milk allergy or intolerance can cause discomfort. 
  • Temperament. Other theories include the idea that it might be a question of individual temperament and what appears to be difficulty adjusting to the world, i.e lights, noise, new people, etc. 
  • Problems with adjusting. Some babies might experience difficulties calming down after they are excited or have experienced something new. It could be classified as a different type of baby sensitivity as well and might just be a question of the baby learning to cope and calm itself down. 

How Will I Know if My Baby Has Colic? 

If your baby exhibits the above symptoms and is crying more than normal, it may be due to colic. Bringing your baby in can be a good way to ease your doubts and ensure that there is no underlying reason for your baby’s crying. Your pediatrician or healthcare provider will examine your baby and obtain a medical history that might help determine whether colic is the cause. 

Parents can also look out for other signs that there is something else going on by observing whether your baby is…

  • Not taking food in well
  • Not ingesting as much milk as normal
  • Suffering from diarrhea or vomiting 
  • Having Difficulty breathing 
  • Crying in strange or unrecognizable sounds

When In Doubt, Bring Your Baby In for Newborn Care 

We know it can get difficult to know when you should be worried and when it is a normal bout of crying or an instance of colic. It’s why Pediatrics On Demand is ready to answer your questions and examine your baby!

Looking for a trusted pediatric clinic for newborn care? Call Pediatrics on Demand, today!