Family Health Guide

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Colic: Diagnosis

Colic is one of the most common infant conditions (according to some experts, up to one-third of all babies suffer from it), yet is perhaps the one that doctors know least about. If you find that your baby’s crying is starting to follow the “rule of threes” or he just seems to cry excessively, discuss it with your doctor. He may be able to pinpoint an underlying factor that he can treat, which may make a difference in the amount of crying you have to endure.

Keeping a colic diary, outlining what seems to triggers the crying (if you can tell), how long it lasts and which comforting measures work best, may help you and your doctor get an accurate read on the situation and provides clues to your doctor as to why your baby might be crying and what to do about it. You may also be surprised by the correlations you discover.

Issues you may want to track in your colic diary:

  • What seems to trigger the outbursts?
  • Do the crying jags occur at the same time each day? How frequently? How long do they last?
  • Are they staying the same, getting better or getting worse?
  • Does he spit up? How often? How soon after feeding, and with how much force?
  • If you're nursing, is there a link between what you eat and how much your baby fusses?
  • If you're bottle-feeding, is there a relationship between her crying and the type of formula, bottle, or nipple you use? What changes have you tried?
  • Does he gulp air or pass a lot of gas?
  • How frequent are his bowel movements? Is his stool soft or hard? Does it seem to ease in response to a feeding change?
  • Which soothing strategies have you tried? Which ones work? Which don't?

You may even want to videotape some crying to show your pediatrician.

Fathers should attend the appointment too, if possible; while some mothers tend to downplay the problem, dads usually tell it like it is.

Keep in mind, too, that it can take time to evaluate a colicky baby; you may be in for multiple medical appointments.