Fussy, Crying, Colic Baby
Sometimes you are faced with a fussy crying colic baby. What do you do? How can you make him stop crying? You're already tired from interrupted-sleep, having uncontrollable, non-stop crying will make you wired!. Whatever you do, don't shake your baby. Shaking him won't help: it will make him cry more and worst of all, it may cause brain damage. Read about his shaken baby syndrome here.
Most babies will have a time in the day when they are fussy. A baby who cries ALL the time is sometimes called "colicky". Wikipedia describes a colicky baby as one who cries intensely for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days per week, and for more than 3 weeks in a month. Photo by Inferis
Colic is a catch-all phrase that you give to a baby who cries a lot for no apparent reason. Doctors don't know why babies are colicky. In the past they thought it was because the baby had gas and was uncomfortable - but there is no real evidence to support this. So in short, people don't know why colicky babies are colicky.
You can try these methods to calm a fussy or colicky baby:
Infants and young babies do 3 things: eat, sleep and poop. So, when a baby is crying, start with the obvious.
- Eat: In addition to the usual feeding schedule, your baby may need extra food because he is in a growth spurt. Text books will tell you when to expect growth spurts, but let me tell you the inside secret: within the first year of life, growth spurts seem to occur anytime!
Growth spurts include physical growth, emotional growth, and developmental growth. So don't think it's just him getting bigger and taller. Your baby may need extra nourishment when he is trying to roll over, sit up, or is teething. Similarly, your baby is "growing" when he begins to recognize himself as an individual separate from you, or he may learn to be scared of the dark. These milestone qualify as growth spurts too.
- Sleep: After a day of activity & fun, you may wonder why? why? why? your baby is crying. Shouldn't he be tired and fall asleep? Just think: don't you get cranky when you're tired?
Some (most?) babies don't know how to calm themselves so that they can drift into sleep. So you will need to do whatever it takes to help him relax and enter into dreamland.
If you have been on the run all day, he may simply need the warmth of your body and the rhythm of your breath. Hold him and help him re-set to a quieter pace. If you have been stuck in the house all day, take him for a walk in the stroller, or a drive around the block. The change in scenery may be enough to ease him out of the blah's and into the zzz's.
- Poop: Your baby may need a diaper change. If he has had a bowel movement, then he will likely be uncomfortable and need a change. He may have a bum rash and need a diaper change even if it is only urine. Changing a diaper may relieve his discomfort and quiet him. (click here to read my thoughts and tips regarding diaper rash).
Keep in mind that breastfed babies tend to poop more often than bottle fed babies. Also, breastfed babies have poops that do not smell terribly bad - okay, it's not roses - but there have been times when I couldn't smell the poop.
A basic diaper only cost about 25 cents each (really!) so don't get all worried about changing a diaper that doesn't need to be changed it. Give it a try, you have nothing to loose except 25¢.
Not as Obvious
There's probably a thousand reasons why babies cry and it may not be obvious what is wrong. Give these a try:
- he may have gas and needs to be burped
- he may be too cold and need to be wrapped in a blanket;
- he may be too hot and need one layer of clothing removed;
- he many need to feel secure and confined: swaddle him in a blanket;
- he may be itchy or a tag may be scrapping against his skin: change his clothes;
- the diapers may be skewed and the velcro is scraping him, re-adjust the diapers;
- maybe there is a hair wrapped around his toes or some other annoying element. Check him up & down to make sure there is nothing obtrusive.
- he may need a lovey to calm him: a special blanket, a teddy bear, or maybe a pacifier;
- he may be over-stimulated: turn off the TV, radio, and stop dangling toys in front of him. Just let him have some quiet time.
- he may be teething, have thrush, or have an ear infection
Sometimes all it takes to calm a baby is to let someone else hold him for a while. Pass him to another family member and take a breather yourself. You deserve a break too.
Some babies are delicate and will cry and fuss at the littlest change in pattern. Other babies are more robust and can "roll with the punches". Regardless, be sure to calm your baby when he is fussy. Helping him calm down will allow him to grow up to become a secure, confident child.
Don't leave your baby to cry and sooth himself - at best he will cry himself into exhaustion and then fall asleep. A baby left to fend for himself will not be able to develop the skills to calm himself. Such a baby will likely grow into a needy, clingy child. So, take the time to love and attend to him now so that he can learn, progress, and launch into a confident childhood. You cannot "spoil" a baby because his needs are basic and true. [You can spoil a child whose wants are unreasonable, demanding, and manipulative.]