Your baby's intense cries are high pitched and the infant's face is flushed. It seems as if the episode has gone on for hours.
Is it crying or colic?
"Crying is a baby's way of communicating," says Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, pediatrician. "It will stop when the caregiver figures out what the baby wants, such as food, or to be held, or to have diapers changed."
Colic, on the other hand, may begin suddenly and for no apparent reason.
Although crying can happen at any time of the day or night, colic "tends to be worse in the afternoon and evening and is difficult to console," notes Dr. Shu. Episodes can be brief, or can last three hours or more. "Babies often draw their knees to their chests, and their stomachs and may become rigid," she says, "leading some people to think that colic is a problem of the digestive tract."
Colic is "most common between about three weeks and three months of age," says Dr. Shu, co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights, and medical editor-in-chief of www.healthychildren.org.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), colic resolves itself by the age of three months in about half of the cases. The AAP reports that as much as 26 percent of babies are diagnosed with colic. It's one of the most common reasons for a visit to the pediatrician.
When to visit the pediatrician
Contact your pediatrician if you notice changes in your baby's eating or sleeping pattern or see changes in behavior, the Mayo Clinic advises. To provide the pediatrician with as much information as possible, track your baby's eating and sleeping patterns in a journal.
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