The Culprits Behind The Ceaseless Crying

"Help, my doctor said my baby has colic and I don't know what to do!" my friend's Facebook posting read. Whenever I hear about someone who is struggling with a baby who has colic, my heart does a tug of sympathy as my mind flashes back to the arrival of my second daughter.

Baby crying in crib |

Colic: it's that long-suffering yet just-common-enough syndrome in babies that doctors have the tendency to wave off as "just one of those things" that the baby will eventually grow out. What about until then? What can you do?

Colic is hard

"I'm still not sure what was wrong or if there was more to her crying episodes."

As I said, my second daughter definitely suffered from the ever-mysterious colic. She had it, all right. Oh, did she have it.

For hours upon hours she would scream endlessly, arching her neck away from me, refusing to be held, too miserable to find comfort in my arms. I felt like a bad mother for not being able to hold my own child. To this day, my husband and daughter have an extra special bond from the time he spent walking her around the house, him cradling her in the football position, the only way she could seem to find any repose.

I tried everything I could think of to help. I cut out everything out of my diet; no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine of any kind (I breastfed her). We tilted her mattress to help keep her upright. Still, nothing helped until eventually she settled down around 3 months old. I'm still not sure what was wrong or if there was more to her crying episodes.

Regardless, parents with colicky babies will always hold a special place in my heart and in preparation of my fourth baby and the hope of avoiding a repeat performance, I did a little digging on some of the common culprits of colic in babies.

Common colic triggers

Unfortunately, there is no one cause for colic that doctors have been able to determine. Some causes of colic can include: 

  • Cow's milk intolerance
  • Smoking during pregnancy or an environment that has second-hand smoke
  • Breast milk allergies, such as nuts, eggs or even caffeine
  • Fruit with seeds in it, such as raspberries
  • Reflux
  • Premature babies/an immature nervous system
  • Excess gas
  • Over-feeding
  • Low birth weight

What you can do

"Although it's rare, colic may often be mistaken for a different condition."

If you suspect your baby is suffering from colic, start a journal, documenting how often the crying is happening, when it's occurring and for how long. Also note any factors before the crying happened, like if it was immediately following a feeding or a bowel movement. If you are breastfeeding, log your diet to see if you notice a trend in certain foods increasing or decreasing the baby's fussiness. I definitely found that certain foods, like even a sip of caffeine, made my daughter's colic considerably worse. Before I found out that seeded fruit can be an especially brutal cause of gas to a newborn baby, I was going through cartons of raspberries and blueberries in my quest to lose the baby weight. You can imagine my horror when I discovered that I was actually the cause of so much of my daughter's pain. #mommyfail

Secondly, take your baby and your information into for a visit with your pediatrician. Although it's rare, colic may often be mistaken for a different condition, like an ear infection or even a hernia. The doctor can also help you determine if your baby may be allergic to his formula or try to switch you to a brand that may work better. Lastly, in some cases, the colic may be the result of reflux that is so severe it can require medication to help your baby keep her feedings down.

In the end, colic is such a hard time for both Baby and parents. No one likes to see their child in pain and the sleepless nights will wear on you both. Take time to give each other a break, if you can, and when all else fails, take heart that in most cases, colic disappears by 3 months of age, something I found to be very true.

Still, just in case, remind me not to eat any raspberries this time around, OK?

More on babies

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Photo credit: Ross Anania/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Tags: baby feeding

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