It is normal for babies to cry without an obvious cause. However, if you are concerned that the crying is excessive or that the child might be in pain, contact your childís physician. There is a chance that your child might have colic.
Although scientists have studied colic, no one has yet figured out what causes colic. According to pediatric nurse, Cecilia Lyons of Warsaw, NY, some theories state that colic can be caused by an immature digestive system or even stress in the house. There is a possibility that it is related to Attention Deficit Disorder. However, these are not official medical diagnoses. These are just theories.
Despite the fact that there is no obvious cause for colic, there are some consistent symptoms. The infant will cry for over four hours a day. In most instances, the crying will be in the evening, although for some the childís fussiest time is in the morning. Very often the crying will be rhythmic, and the babyís arms fling to the beat. All this crying causes gas, so the babyís stomach gets cramped which causes more pain and more crying. Pediatricians are not certain whether the gas is a cause or effect of the crying. The reality is that a colicky baby has gas which makes her even more uncomfortable. Is the situation hopeless? No, donít give up.
There are several suggestions Ė perhaps one or more will work with your baby. Remember, above all, that your child is not crying to frustrate you. She is crying because she is in pain. You can gently lay the baby down and move her legs in a bicycling motion. This will help move the gas around in the baby's stomach and relieve some of the pain. Another method of dealing with the gas is holding the baby in ďthe colic hold." Pick up the baby, and place her facing outward on your arm. Her legs should be straddling your arm. Your palm should press against the babyís stomach and your fingers should hold her chest. This puts a warm pressure on the babyís stomach that can be very soothing. Also, putting her in the ďface outĒ position will prevent her from becoming bored, since she can still look around at her surroundings.
If these suggestions donít work, try dimming the lights. You also might try to put on some calming background music. If the house has a washer and dryer, put the baby on her stomach on top of the dryer. Lay a towel down first so the baby has a comfortable mat. Turn the dryer on and place your hand on the babyís back for support. This procedure relaxes the baby: the heat from the dryer comforts her and the vibrations from the dryer provide a gentle massage. But remember, do not leave the baby, even for a moment.
Many times, the infant will calm down when walked in a front pack or a stroller or taken for a drive. There are simulators on the market that can be attached to the infantís crib to imitate the movement of a car. Or you can make an audiocassette of your infant crying, and play the tape. Some children will stop their crying when they hear their cry on tape. Do not try any medication unless you have consulted your physician.
When you are at your witsí end and feel that you canít take it anymore, get help. There may be times when you feel like grabbing the baby and shaking her until she gets quiet. This feeling is a very normal reaction to the screaming, but it is important to take control and not act on these feelings. Never shake a baby, no matter how great your frustration, because it can cause serious brain damage and even death. Instead, put the baby down in a safe place, like a crib. After making sure that nothing in the room or crib can harm the baby, shut the door and go into another room for a few minutes so you can calm yourself.Take a shower so the noise is dulled and you can relax a bit. The crying will not harm the baby, and it is crucial for you to be in control of your emotions.
If you canít put the baby down in a safe place, or you canít seem to escape the noise, call a friend or family member who will talk to you until you are calm enough to deal with the situation again. It might be hard to talk on the phone with a baby screaming in your arms, but talking to others can help you calm down.
If at all possible, try to get a baby-sitter for a few hours a week so you get a break from the noise. Even an experienced parent can find the experience very challenging. Fortunately, the situation is not hopeless. For some reason that scientists donít even understand, colic suddenly disappears when the infant is approximately four months old.
Many people are worried that this rough start in life can have negative lingering effects. There has been no proof of this. The colicky babies develop normally and seem just like the other children around them. So hang in there. In a few months, you can proudly say, "I survived colic!"