Crying is a baby’s way of communicating. It conveys a variety of messages which, with experience, you will come to recognize. At times an episode may reflect the need for a diaper change, at others, it may signify hunger or discomfort. There will be periods when you will be unable to comprehend the cause for the tears. This is not uncommon. It does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with you, the milk, or even the baby. It may just be normal.
Some babies between 3 weeks and 3 months of age will have a fussy period which lasts for hours. They may draw up their legs and pass gas. They faces may get beet red. They may be very difficult to comfort. Some may respond simply to being picked up and held. For others, rocking or a car ride may break the spell. For these episodic attacks there is usually no magic cure. We are on your side. We know that the noise can be annoying, especially if it occurs when you are trying to do something else (like sleep!) Furthermore, no one likes to see any child cry in apparent distress. Nonetheless, if these episodes are based on colic or gas we want you to understand the following important points:
1. There is no magic medicine. If there was, everyone would know about it.
2. Colic, and the crying associated with it, does not cause the baby physical harm.
3. The colicky baby does not run a fever or act sick in between spells. He continues to feed well and act bright and alert.
4. Aside from offering you reassurance and empathy, we urge you to try the following approach: Do whatever simple physical act you can to relieve the baby. Examples are playing soft music, swaddling, swinging and repetitious noise. To try to cut down on the episodes, burp the baby over your shoulder after every 1/2-1 ounce, or between breasts during breastfeeding. Extend the time over which the baby is fed.
5. Occasionally, when your baby does not respond to various measures, he may only need to be left alone awhile. Crying will cause fatigue and he will then rest.
6. GET HELP. Allow Dad, a neighbor, or Grandparents to take over care for a short time daily.
If these measures are not successful please call. Despite our recommendations and interest be prepared for some frustration. More often than not, the real treatment is tincture of time.
Hiccups are common and of no concern.
The best air temperature is a comfortable one — 68-72 degrees. In very hot weather, a diaper will suffice. There is a greater tendency to overdress (and hence, overheat) than to underdress. Overdressing can cause sweating and an irritating heat rash.
Out of Doors:
Provided the weather is comfortable, and the baby is dressed appropriately, the newborn infant may go outside almost any time after the first week. Avoid crowded places. Do your best to keep the baby shaded; this is particularly important in Florida. Keep the baby’s head covered with a cap and refrain from sun exposure during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 3 :00 p.m. – especially near the water. To protect the eyes, we also recommend sunglasses with UV protection.
For the first month especially, we like to recommend as little exposure and handling as possible by visitors outside the immediate family. This is done to minimize the exposure of the newborn to a variety of infectious diseases. Children other than brothers and sisters should probably not have intimate contact with the baby at first.
This will normally begin between 5-8 months. Drooling and thumb or finger sucking may occur months before this. Teething may cause some local discomfort, which may cause the baby to be somewhat irritable. It does not, however, cause fevers, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, runny nose, etc. In short, it doesn’t make the baby SICK. Here again, there is no magic medicine. Teething rings may be helpful, as may an occasional dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol). In general, however, nothing but time is required. Teething biscuits and cookies can be dangerous since babies can choke on them. Medications to rub on the gums are not generally helpful.
Signs of illness:
We want you to call us if your baby that has the following problems:
1. Lethargy and listlessness (i.e., lying around, sleeping much more than usual, with or without fever.)
2. Vomiting repeatedly (not just spitting) especially if the vomitus is green or projectile (very forceful) vomiting.
3. Refusal to eat several times in a row.
4. Labored, distressed, or rapid breathing.
5. Changes of color — especially blueness of the lips and fingernails, or yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes.
6. Extreme irritability.