Fussy Baby or Colic?

Bringing my baby home and enjoying each precious moment with her was something I always dreamed of.  What I didn’t dream of was the crying spells that lasted hours.  I didn’t know if this amount of crying was normal, she was sick, or I was doing something wrong.
I read various books and websites on the matter as well as babysitting my nephew, who had colic.  I saw his symptoms and felt the pain of listening to him cry for hours on end with nothing appeasing him.
At first I didn’t think our baby had colic but after a particularly rough week and another hour long crying spell, I gave in and called her pediatrician.

What is Colic?

When I got to his office he checked her out and said she was fine and didn’t fit the description for colic.
Colic is unexplained crying in a healthy baby and follows the rule of threes.  Which is, more than three hours of crying, three or more days a week for more than three weeks.  Colic generally appears around 3 weeks of age, peaks around 6 weeks and goes away on its own around 14 weeks.

Colic Symptoms

Babies are usually comforted by being held, feed or changed.  However, these methods may not work on babies with colic.  Some symptoms are continued spells of crying, arching the back, tightening their fists, holding their breath and loud, demanding cries.
Some people believe that colic is related to stomach or digestive issues but colic is not a sickness.  However, bloated tummies and trapped gas can make the crying worse.

When to See the Doctor

Contact your pediatrician if your baby is running an extreme temperature, throwing up/losing weight, or bloody stools.  These are not symptoms of colic and can be a sign of illness.
Tips for Colic
You can’t cure colic but there are a few methods that help. Place the baby on their tummy across your legs and gently rub their back or back pats, play soothing music or a noise machine (my daughter liked the ocean noise) taking a walk, rocking in a quiet room, and the soothing vibrations of car rides.
Colic can be very trying and it is important to remember that it is not your baby or your fault.  Feeling stressed during the crying spell is normal and take a break to recharge when you feel overwhelmed.

Fussy Baby

Every baby has a level of fussiness but some babies are more difficult than others.  I had a fussy baby that bordered on colic and I needed something new to try and the doctor gave me a few suggestions.

Try a New Formula

I breastfeed my baby but supplemented with formula.  I was using a regular infant formula but my doctor gave me a sample of Gerber Good Start Gentle. The proteins are broken down and easier for the baby to digest and it has a blend of antioxidant ingredients.  I was very hopeful that this would help avoid some of the after feeding fussiness.
After trying the formula, my daughter’s spit up reduced in volume and frequency.  The crying was also better but at times she still seemed like she was in pain when she was crying.

Tummy Soothers

I also started using Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water.  Gripe Water helps infants with colic, gastrointestinal discomfort, teething pain, reflux and other stomach issues by acting as a digestive acid.
I like Mommy’s Bliss because they use healthy ingredients with no alcohol, Paraben-free, and 100% natural.  My daughter would be in the middle of a crying fit and as soon as the liquid hit her mouth she would slow her crying because she liked the taste.  As it claims, it really is fast acting and she would never fight me when I would put the dropper in her mouth.

Recognize Patterns

I found it helpful to chart the time of day and duration of her crying fits.  For my baby, late morning and mid afternoon were areas of greater fussiness.  I adjusted my routine and during those times I sat with her in a quite room or I would go outside.  Our daughter loves sitting outside, the warm air and gentle breeze would relax her.
When my parents-in-law would watch her, this was their go-to move.  They take her on a daily walk and an afternoon on the patio.

Plan Properly

One of the biggest stressors for me during her crying fits was running late.  I felt like I couldn’t set her down without her crying.  I would put on make-up and do my hair balancing my baby in my lap.  This made for very frenzied mornings and I made a few simple changes that helped out.
Before I would go to bed I would set out clothes, prepare lunches, load her diaper bag and my bag. I also woke up thirty minutes earlier and gave myself a cushion. Believe me I always use the cushion to do something in the morning, like coffee with my husband or tummy time with the baby!  I love sleep but I would rather miss the 30 minutes of sleep and have an enjoyable morning with my family without the rushing around and stress.
We also became better prepared when leaving the house.  Before becoming a mom I would love to leave the house with only my car keys and wallet. But when I had a baby, I quickly learned that it was better to bring something and not need it, than to find yourself in the throws of a fit without supplies.
We pack our diaper bag with a bottle of water, formula, gripe water, pacifier, toy, light blanket, two changes of clothes, two burp rags, two bibs, wet wipes, diapers, regular wipes.
Many babies get fussy because they are hungry, wet, too hot/cold or want attention.  This bag of tricks took care of all of that and I had the gripe water in case the others didn’t do the job.


Wellness Visits

If you are unsure whether your baby has colic, ask your pediatrician at your next wellness visit.  This is a great opportunity to talk to the doctor about your baby’s symptoms and concerns you are having.  Our insurance covered wellness visits, so we had no out of pocket charge.  You can make an immediate appointment, but you will have to pay a deductible. For me this was an extra expense to hear that she was just fussy.   You know your baby best, so if you want a doctor’s opinion and advise, make the call.

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