My newborn just doesn't stop crying. Is it colic?

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Dr Paul Sinclair, paediatrician, answers: 

Newborn babies cry a lot because that is their only way of communicating their needs. Babies cry because they are hungry or lonely, or because of discomfort or pain.

In my view colic describes a symptom of a crying baby, and not a pathologic process, that needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. It is important through careful history taking, examination and limited investigation to establish why this baby is crying excessively.

The doctor needs to look at how baby is being fed, breast or otherwise. This is critical. When baby cries, how baby sleeps and in which position they sleep best is critical, as are other symptoms and signs, such as:

  • Number, consistency and colour of poos.
  • Vomiting, possetting and burping.
  • Maternal medication and diet, also looking at how your baby is gaining weight as she may just be hungry.
  • Nasal congestion, throat or ear infection or coughing.
  • Skin reactions or rashes, particularly in the face or nappy area.
  • A urine test to check for infection.
  • Previous anti-colic remedies you may have tried.

There are many reasons for excessive crying and may require a few visits and trials of therapy to establish the cause and therapy that works. Do not be fobbed off with “colic remedies” that generally just sedate your baby. Keep looking for a cause and start basic – a hungry baby with a stressed mom who is under-producing milk is a frequent problem.

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