New babies are either asleep, awake and quiet, or awake and crying. Your baby may cry for a variety of reasons including pain, hunger, discomfort, fatigue, tiredness, loneliness, tension, boredom, or because of a wet/dirty diaper. Sometimes, though, babies cry for no obvious reason. Over time, you will begin to recognize your baby’s different cries.
When your baby is around two weeks old, his or her crying often increases and may escalate until six to eight weeks of age. Increased crying is sometimes confused with colic, but often occurs when your baby begins to sleep longer.
To try and calm your baby, you can try the following:
- Check to see if he is wet or dirty and change the diaper if necessary
- Consider whether he may be hungry and try feeding if you think this may be the problem.
- Try burping him. A gas bubble in the stomach may be causing discomfort.
- Consider whether he may be hot or cold and adjust clothing accordingly.
- Make sure no strings or threads have worked themselves around a finger or toe.
- Try holding your baby, making face to face contact, and talk or sing to him
If you have fed, changed, and cuddled your baby and the baby does not quiet, try placing your baby on his or her stomach. Remember to reposition your baby on his or her side or back if he or she goes to sleep in this position. Another calming technique that’s commonly practiced is called swaddling, which involves wrapping your baby snuggly in a blanket.
Be especially alert to unusual cries, like piercing or shrieking sounds or persistent crying that is not typical of your baby’s crying patterns. In these instances, you should call our office.
If your baby cries inconsolably for up to two to three hours or more, he may have colic. If your baby has colic, he may pass gas or pull his legs up to the chest. Bowel movements will appear normal. Colic often occurs at about the same time of day, around late afternoon, early evening or late at night. Between these crying periods, your baby seems relaxed and normal.
In most cases, no cause is found. Sometimes, however, colic may be the result of formula or milk intolerance. Research has shown that colicky babies simply require more parental comfort, as they do not comfort themselves easily. Fortunately, colic typically fades as the baby matures and disappears by two to four months of age.
Measures to comfort your colicky baby include swaddling, gentle rocking or swaying, car rides, and “white noise.” For example, your baby may respond positively to the noise of a vacuum cleaner or running water. Some say that a probiotic may help soothe the tummy, but medications rarely help.
Most importantly, be patient. Enlist friends, grandparents, and other family to help you. Have one of them watch your baby so you can take a break from the crying.