Crying is a primitive and piercing sound that is bound to get any mom or dad’s attention. When our baby cries, we naturally react to stop the crying and then try to find the cause of the discomfort. However it is important to understand why our baby is crying before responding to stop the crying.
When searching for the reason, eliminate basic needs first:
- discomfort caused by a dirty nappy, cramps, bloating, reflux, constipation, etc
- medical conditions
When you have ruled out all these possible causes but the crying doesn’t stop, it is understandable that you may begin to feel desperate and at a loss for what to do for your baby. It is important to know you are not alone. In the first 12 weeks of life many babies spend some hours each day fussing and crying. This unexplained crying in the early days has been commonly known as ‘colic’. For many years it was thought that the crying was caused by abdominal discomfort or cramps but recent research shows that it is more a factor of the young brain’s inability to deal with stimulation.
Your baby’s ability to filter out stimulation in the world develops over time. In the first two weeks, we hypothesize that your baby’s brain protects him from excess sensory info. During this time your baby is probably an angel, crying very little and sleeping a lot. But at around ten to fourteen days, this protection dissolves and your baby’s brain must start to filter out sensory stimulation on its own. Of course, being immature, it can’t and so your baby reacts to the world with sensory overload. From being that angel who slept all the time, he suddenly is more alert and fusses. He may cry for an hour every evening or as much as three hours day or night. This daily crying usually peaks at around 6 weeks and by 12 weeks the fussy period is over. The best way to prevent excessive crying in the first three months is to limit stimulation and keep your baby’s world calm.
For the baby who continues to fuss past three months and is very difficult to settle and sleeps poorly, it is understandable that his mother would be concerned and may feel desperate.
If your baby is very unsettled and you are at a loss as to what is going wrong, its worth taking the time to do the Fussy Baby Checklist or read this article on COLIC.