Does your infant have a regular fussy period each day when it seems you can do nothing to comfort them? This is quite common, particularly between 6:00 p.m. and midnight—just when you, too, are feeling tired from the day’s events. These periods of crankiness may feel like torture, especially if you have other demanding children or work to do, but fortunately, they don’t last long. The length of this fussing usually peaks at about 3 hours a day by 6 weeks old, and then declines to 1-2 hours a day by 3-4 months old. As long as the baby calms within a few hours and is relatively peaceful the rest of the day, there’s no reason for alarm.
If the crying does not stop- but intensifies and persists throughout the day or night, it may be caused by colic. About one-fifth of all babies develop colic, usually between the 2nd and 4th weeks of age. They cry inconsolably, often screaming, extending, or pulling up their legs, and passing gas. Their stomachs may be enlarged or distended with gas. The crying spells can occur around the clock, although they often become worse in the early evening. Unfortunately, there is no definite explanation for why this happens. Most often, colic means simply that the child is unusually sensitive to stimulation or cannot “self-console” or regulate his nervous system. (Also known as an immature nervous system.) As they mature, this inability to self-console—marked by constant crying—will improve.
Generally this “colicky crying” will stop by 3-4 months, but it can last until 6 months of age. Sometimes, in breastfeeding babies, colic is a sign of sensitivity to a food in the mother’s diet. Rarely, the discomfort is caused by a sensitivity to milk protein in formula. Colicky behavior may also signal a medical problem, such as a hernia or some type of illness. Although you may simply have to wait it out, several things might be worth trying. First, of course, contact us to make sure that the crying is not related to any serious medical condition that may require treatment. Then consider trying the following: