Common Causes of Concern in the First Few Months

One of the most distressing problems to confront new parents is an infant who cries uncontrollably and who seems inconsolable. The parents become frightened as the child appears to be in distress, they become frustrated because they cannot solve the problem and calm the baby down, and they are tired because the crying keeps everyone from getting a restful sleep. The resulting tension, fatigue and anxiety in the parents unfortunately can compound the problem and make the child cry more.

Colic is many things to many people. It has been attributed to immature intestines, gas pain, poor bowel habits, and problems with formula or breast milk. Colic, however, is almost never related to these, rather it is caused by excessive infant fatigue which is compounded by continued stimulation and inability to rest, as well as parental anxiety and fear. Colic is easily prevented once you are aware of the cause. Some babies with milk intolerance or severe spitting up can be extremely fussy as well, and if you suspect this may be an issue with your newborn, please make an appointment for evaluation in the office.

A newborn requires a great deal of rest. They will sleep two-thirds to three-quarters of the day, or even longer. Without sufficient rest, they will be unable to eat properly, and will have actual physical distress. This sleep deprived and over stimulated state is called “frazzled” by many people.

An infant thrives on the warmth, tenderness, confidence and assurance of their parents. If the parents are nervous, fatigued, upset or just plain worried, these feelings will be communicated to the infant and will make it difficult or impossible to comfort them. The best way to avoid these negative feelings is to get plenty of rest!

A newborn infant has no way of knowing which of those objects, sounds, colors or voices in their environment are important and which ones are not. They will do their best to concentrate on all of them at once. Obviously, this is exhausting for them. Thus, the more stimulation in an infant’s environment, the more tired he will become. Infants are like newborn puppies and kittens; too much handling by too many children or adults will make them sick, weak and unable to nurse effectively.

From the foregoing it can be seen that the easiest way to prevent colic is to prevent fatigue both for mother and child:

  1. Minimize your baby’s exposure to other people. They are not a new doll that should be passed from person to person to hold. Keep their wellbeing your first priority.
  2. Do not take them out into crowds. For an infant, more than two or three people is a crowd.
  3. Allow them to sleep in a quiet, undisturbed area of the house. Do not wake them so that others may see them and do not wake them to go to the store or a friend’s house.
  4. Get plenty of rest. You will be more prepared to handle the demands of your child if you are rested than if you are fatigued and bordering on exhaustion.
  5. Have confidence in yourself and remain confident in your ability to care for your child. No one is better qualified to take care of your infant than you are.

Your baby will thrive on the attention that you give them. Those quiet times during the day and night when they are awake and quietly looking about are extremely important. When they are being “quiet and good” make every effort to hold, talk and play with them. These are the times that they will learn the most from you (and you will have the most fun with them).

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