I just saw a book where the author (an MD) claims that a colicky baby cries, not because he is in pain, but because he has a message to tell or his crying is leading to his speech development. That may be the case in some instances, but considering our experiences with our oldest son, 36 years ago, I couldn’t disagree more.
Our son’s crying spells began when he was about 20 days old. No, he wasn’t allergic to formula; he was breastfed. He wasn’t sick at all; he didn’t even catch a cold until after he was a year old. He never developed a diaper rash either, until we took him on a trip when he was nine and a half months old.
After coming home from the hospital, our son put on weight regularly and normally; he also began sleeping through the night when he was a month old. Yet, he cried, writhing in pain throughout the day and especially in the evening around 5 or 6 PM when his father returned home from work.
Every day and evening, as he screamed, he pulled his knees up; his stomach and belly got hard and swollen; and he passed gas, non-stop. Now, can anyone do that if he is not in pain?
His pediatrician shrugged the whole thing off. “Since it is your first child, that’s normal,” he said. Did that mean we were nervous parents? I don’t think so. I was in my late twenties and my husband in his thirties. We considered ourselves mature adults on the conservative side. Still our baby cried uncontrollably, throughout the day, and even more vehemently, in the evening.
It is true that I could never leave a crying baby alone. “Let him be. Leave him in his crib; close the door and go about your business,” was the norm in those days. If I ever tried that advice, I probably didn’t last more than fifteen minutes. So our first child ended up getting carried around the house throughout the day by me, and in the evenings, by his father. To this day, because of our son’s colic, I am grateful to Swanson’s TV dinners.
To be on the fair side, our baby gave us a little break if we took him on a car ride or rocked him tirelessly. By the time his fourth month was about over, colic decided to leave our house.
As to the concept of colic becoming an indication of speech development, that is false, too, at least in my experience. Our younger son talked earlier than his older brother and he was more verbal, too; and he never had colic.
Nowadays, effective or not, there are so many therapies against colic: herbal remedies and teas containing chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, lemon balm, cardamom, angelica, peppermint, and yarrow; dimethicone as regular medicine; antispasmodic and sedating drugs dicyclomine and dicycloverine, although with probable and serious side effects; chiropractic spinal manipulation; and yes, an electronic cry analyzer.
It is a fact that all babies cry. They must, because crying is their way of communicating with us. They tell us of their needs with their crying. A crying baby may be telling us he is hungry, tired, cold, too warm, and uncomfortable in tight clothes or dirty diapers, or he needs to be held, loved, and consoled.
A crying baby who is sick has a different tone to his voice. He usually sounds high-pitched and frightened. When a baby cries like that, make sure you call the doctor or take him to the hospital. That baby might be telling you that his health needs immediate attention.
If you have a colicky baby, never lose your patience. Never, ever, shake a baby or any young child. Better yet, call a hotline, his grandparents, your friends, your next door neighbor, anybody you can reach who can give you some comfort.
If your newborn baby is having a crying spell, wrap him up in a bundle and see if he quiets down. Some babies are consoled when they are wrapped.
If that doesn’t work, let him suck on a pacifier.
Put on some soft music or turn on an appliance with a buzzing sound.
While you are trying to soothe and reassure the baby, keep talking to him. It is remarkable how much comfort a baby can found in just hearing your voice.
Give him extra cuddling.
Change his position if you are holding him or if he is lying on his bed.
Entertain him. At about three months, a baby starts being aware of his environment. At this stage, mobiles, soft toys, and even television may come in handy.
Having the baby on some kind of a schedule that is not too tight or too loose and is comfortable to both the baby and the parents is a good idea, also. While most babies determine their own routine and do better finding their own way, others are happier on a stricter feeding schedule.
While you bathe, feed, clothe, and comfort your baby, make sure you take care of yourself and get enough sleep, too. A parent who doesn’t get enough sleep or cannot find personal time for herself (himself) will suffer more and so will her (his) baby eventually.
May you all enjoy happy, healthy, and contented babies.