If your normally healthy baby cries on average more than 3 hours per day, for
more than 3 days per week and for at least 3 weeks, it's generally put down to a
condition called colic. Colic is a common and quite normal condition that will
eventually go away on its own. It's an upsetting condition for mother and baby
as the continued crying can easily get you down.
All newborns cry, need attention and show a degree of fussiness about when, how
long and how they like to be cuddled, but when a child who is otherwise healthy
cries like this, you can but wonder why.
It's likely that up to 40% of all infants have some degree of colic. It usually
starts between the 3rd and 6th week after birth and ends by the time the baby is
3 months old. If the baby is still crying excessively after that, other health
issues could be to blame.
Here are some key facts about colic:
• Babies with colic have a normal sucking reflex and a good appetite, and are
otherwise healthy and growing well. If your baby isn't feeding well and/or
doesn't have a strong sucking reflex you should consult your doctor.
• Babies with colic like to be handled and cuddled. If your baby seems
uncomfortable or distressed when cuddled and/or is difficult to console you
should consult your doctor.
• Babies with colic may bring up bits of milk from time to time, but if your
baby is actually vomiting and/or losing weight, you should consult your doctor.
• Babies with colic usually have normal stools, and so if your baby has
or blood in the stool you should consult your doctor.
Medical professionals don't have the exact answer about what causes colic, but
will give you suggestions and helpful tips that could help to relive the
severity of the condition or even solve the problem altogether. Milk intolerance
is normally one of the causes that's suggested, and it's worth looking into if
the baby is bottle fed. In the case of breast fed babies, it may be recommended
that the mother changes her diet but cutting different things out one by one
(e.g. caffeine or dairy products) and then re-introducing them to see if there
is any affect on the babies colic.
In general babies with colic will also have wind, but it's not clear if the wind
causes colic or if babies develop wind as a result of swallowing too much air
Other speculations imply that colic occurs when food moves too quickly through a
baby's digestive system or is not completely digested. Additional theories are
that colic is due to a baby's personality, that some babies just take a little
bit longer to get adjusted to the world, or that some have undiagnosed gastro
issues. It's also been found that infants of mothers who smoke are more likely
to have colic.
There is no single treatment that has been proven to make colic go away, but
there are ways to make life easier for both you and your colicky baby.
If your baby has stopped feeding and is not hungry, don't try to continue
feeding, instead, try to console your little one. It's a natural concern for
parents that they don't want to spoil it with too much affection, but you'll not
be doing any harm by cuddling your baby and giving them the attention that they
need to develop at this time. You can also try some of the following:
• Walk around holding your baby in various positions.
• Hold your baby whilst rocking in a rocking chair, again trying various
• Try burping your baby more often during feedings, trying the over the shoulder
and the sitting up positions.
• Place your baby across your lap on his/her belly and rub your baby's back.
• Put your baby in a vibrating or swinging seat.
• Take your baby for a ride in their car seat in the car. Car motion has an
amazing calming effect.
• Some babies respond positively to sound and music, so play some different
types of music until you find one that works, or put the TV on in the same room.
• Sometimes the sound of a washing machine, tumble dryer or vacuum cleaner can
provide the baby with the soothing sounds that will calm them down.
• Some babies aren't ready for the freedom and brightness of the outside world
and bundling them up in a light cotton sheet or towel and putting them in a
darker room (re-creating some of the conditions of the womb) may work wonders.
Your baby will eventually grow out of this condition, but in the mean time,
caring for a constantly crying baby can be extremely frustrating. It should be
remembered that your moods and feelings project to the baby, and so you too need
to take steps to relax and take care of yourself. Remember that colic is
nobody's fault, so try not to blame yourself. It's not a failure to take a
friend up on a little time off. Consider letting them take you baby on a short
walk or similar, giving you an opportunity for a relaxing bath or even a massage
or facial, (your baby will benefit from it too). It's OK to put the baby down in
the crib to take a break before making another attempt comfort him/her. If, at
any time, you feel like you might hurt yourself or the baby, you should put the
baby down in the crib and call someone for help immediately.
You should contact your doctor if:
If the baby has a temperature of 38° Celsius (100.4° Fahrenheit)
If your baby is crying for more than 2 hours at a time, and is inconsolable
If your baby isn't feeding well
If your baby has diarrhea
If your baby has persistent vomiting
If you're unsure whether your baby's crying is colic or a symptom of another
If your baby is less awake or alert than usual you should call the doctor
straight away for advice.
Croup is a common respiratory condition in young children which generally occurs
in the autumn and winter time. Croup is caused by a swelling and narrowing in
the voice box, windpipe, and the breathing tubes that lead to the lungs. This
condition is distinctive by the harsh 'barking seal' type cough, hoarse voice
and possible difficulty in breathe.
The onset of croup is normally first noticed a few days after the start of a
cold and is usually caused by the same 'common cold' viruses. Croup is a
contagious condition and the germs spread from one person to another through
coughing, sneezing and general close contact. Regular hand-washing and limiting
contact with others can help prevent spreading croup to others.
With age, children's lungs and windpipes mature, and they are less likely to get
The symptoms of croup are often better in the daytime then at night, and
sometimes children have croup attacks that wake them up in the middle of the
night. Although a little scary, croup is rarely serious, and children usually
improve within 2 to 5 days with rest and care at home.
As a precaution, and to check if enough oxygen is reaching the blood, your
doctor may place a small clip called a pulse oximeter on your child's finger,
toe, or earlobe. This is because when croup makes breathing harder, oxygen finds
it more difficult to get into the blood and this can cause related
Even though your child's coughing and troubled breathing can be frightening,
home treatment usually eases the symptoms.
During a croup attack any crying and/or panic can make the swelling in the
windpipe worse and therefore even harder to breathe, so try to stay composed to
project an air of calm and tranquility on the situation. This will, in turn,
calm the breathing pattern of the affected child.
Using a humidifier directly onto the child's face during a croup attack can
help, because breathing in moist air can relieve the symptoms. Alternatively,
fill your bathroom with steam from hot water, and sit in the bathroom with your
child for 10 minutes. Even the cool night air seems to help, so you could dress
him/her up warm and go outside for 10 minutes.
After an attack it's a good idea to put a humidifier next to the child to keep a
moist air flow near by. If the attacks reoccur during the night, you may
consider sleeping close to your child to be on hand immediately. Do not smoke,
especially in the house.
If the symptoms of the croup attack do not improve after 30 minutes, call or see
your doctor. If the attack is in the middle of the night and you are very
worried, consider taking your child to casualty. Or call the 'doctor on call'.
If your child has severe difficulties in breathing you should call for an
It is important to keep your child well hydrated with water, flavored ice treats
(ice pops), or crushed ice drinks several times each hour.
If your child has severe croup or is not responding to normal home treatment,
return to your doctor for further advice. It's not advised to give normal over
the counter cough medicines for croup, so check with your pharmacist or doctor
before administering any medicines, especially for under 2's.
Jaundice in newborns (Hyperbilirubinemia)
Bilirubin is a bodily substance that is made when the body breaks down old red
blood cells, and, when there is too much bilirubin in the baby's body, they get
a condition called jaundice. During pregnancy, a mother's body gets rid of
bilirubin from the baby through her placenta. After birth, the baby's body must
get rid of the bilirubin on its own through urine and stool.
The symptoms of jaundice are generally easily visible as the condition makes the
baby's skin and the white part of the eyes look yellow. The yellowing normally
first shows in the baby's face and chest,
and the baby may have an unusually
high-pitched cry, and /or they also may be sluggish and cranky.
Jaundice is not usually a problem and, even in perfectly healthy babies, a
degree of jaundice almost always appears by 2 to 4 days of age. It usually gets
better or goes away on its own within a week or two without causing problems. In
breast-fed babies, mild jaundice sometimes lasts until 10 to 14 days after
birth. In some breast-fed babies, jaundice disappears and then returns. It's
possible that jaundice could last throughout breast-feeding, but this isn't
usually a problem as long as the baby gets enough milk by being fed at regular
In very rare cases, too much bilirubin in the blood can cause damage to the
brain, leading to hearing loss, mental retardation, or behaviour problems.
Your doctor will probably ask you to keep checking your baby at home to make
sure the jaundice is clearing up. Your baby will need a follow-up examination
within the first 5 days after birth. It's important to call your doctor for
immediate advice if the yellow color gets brighter after your baby is 3 days
old. Sometimes babies with jaundice are put under a type of fluorescent light,
because when the skin absorbs the light it helps the baby's body to process the
bilirubin so that the body can more easily expel it in the stool and urine. The
treatment is usually done in a hospital, however sometimes this can take place
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