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Baby's Crying

Excessive, Persistent Crying

Baby CryingThe term Colic means excessive, persistent crying in seemingly normal healthy babies. For many years practitioners have generally used a 'rule of thumb' approach to diagnose colic. This being that the crying goes on for more than 3 hours per day for at least 3 days in a week and has been going on for at least 3 weeks. However, usually by 3 to 4 months of age, babies' colic episodes are subsiding. In the meantime, parents can end up feeling helpless, as the whole situation can feel something like 'surviving' a continual storm, until the storm patterns have worn themselves out!

Research shows there are four main characteristics that describe a colic episode:

  • The onset of crying is sudden as though it 'comes out of the blue'
  • The cry is loud and high-pitched, frantic like, indicating the baby is extremely distressed
  • The baby may pull her little legs up to the belly, and has tension in the body. She may hold her breath for a moment before the next burst occurs. Baby's face becomes red and her fists may be tightly clenched
  • And ... the baby is inconsolable, as though she cannot hear and feel your warmth and reassurance.

Certainly there can be medical (biological) reasons why babies cry excessively, such as:

  • Acid reflux (milk regurgitating up into the oesophagus) which causes 'heartburn'
  • Undernourished
  • Intolerance or an allergy to specific types of milk formulas
  • Certain foods in breastfeeding mothers' diets, although it is not conclusive. Some research has found that excessive amounts of caffeine (such as in coffee, soft/soda drinks, energy drinks) can irritate infants.
  • Drug intake by mothers during pregnancy
  • Low birth weight infants.

However, there is little evidence that can 'pinpoint' a specific cause for those babies who do not present with medical symptoms. Some possible non-biological factors contributing to a baby's excessive crying can be: