Does your infant have a regular fussy period each day when it seems you can do nothing to comfort her? This is quite common, particularly between 6:00 p.m. and midnight, just when you, too, are feeling tired from the day's trials and tribulations. These periods of crankiness may feel like torture, especially if you have other demanding children or work to do, but fortunately they don't last long. The length of this fussing usually peaks at about three hours a day by 6 weeks, and then declines to one or two hours a day by 3 months. As long as the baby calms within a few hours and is relatively peaceful the rest of the day, there's no reason for alarm.
If the crying does not stop but intensifies and persists throughout the day or night, it may be caused by colic. About one-fifth of all babies develop colic, usually between the second and fourth weeks. They cry inconsolably, often screaming, extending or pulling up their legs and passing gas. Their stomachs may be enlarged or distended with gas. The crying spells can occur around the clock, although they often become worse in the early evening.
Unfortunately, there is no definite explanation for why this happens. Most often, colic means simply that the child is unusually sensitive to stimulation. As she matures, it will decrease, and generally it stops by 3 months. Sometimes, in breastfeeding babies, colic is a sign of sensitivity to a food in the mother's diet. The discomfort is only rarely caused by sensitivity to milk protein in formula. Colicky behavior may signal a medical problem, such as a hernia or some type of illness.
Coping with Colic
You may find it reassuring that there's a time limit to colic, but that doesn't stop the crying now. You may have to wait it out, but there are several things that might be worth trying. First, of course, consult your pediatrician to rule out any medical reason for the crying. Then ask him which of the following would be most helpful.