The first myth
Whenever baby has cramps in their tummy parents ought to give gripe water,herbal teas,hot pads,antacids and in high quantities.
Cramps don’t occur if stools are normal. However, if the motions are loose, bloody, mucousy or hard then the baby’s tummy might be the source of the problem. Since milk intolerance or protein allergy can make the baby sick, changing the formula to a specialized hypoallergenic formula or modifying mom’s diet when nursing might solve the problem. But these changes will only be effective if the baby’s digestive system is the true source of the crankiness. If the stools are normal, usually soft, yellow to light brown, and if the baby is gaining weight, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Colic babies have to much gas in there tummy. Cranky babies are often given drops or antacids in the hope of neutralizing excess gastric acid. But in the absence of symptoms such as spitting up, these measures usually don’t work. Babies who spit up a lot, however, may be suffering from GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disorder, a cause of painful heartburn. GERD babies sometimes display peculiar behavior. Those babies with GERD can be turned into angels when their gastric acid is tamed with thickened feeds and antacids such as Zantac or Mylanta.
It helps to observe your baby’s behavior when feeding, especially if the baby is unusually cranky. If spitting up or pulling back occurs, antacid treatment should help. Otherwise, look for another explanation for the cry.
The baby is cranky because she’s constipated. She’ll feel better if she can relieve herself more often.
Constipation as a cause of crankiness? True constipation, the presence of hard, formed stool is not common in infants. Although some babies wait several days before relieving themselves, especially when nursing, the stool produced is usually soft. These babies are usually relaxed and happy, despite having passed their last stool some time ago. This is not constipation! Parents often fear their infant is constipated when they observe straining, grunting and purple faces when defecation is attempted. Another surprise awaits the anxious parent: the stool finally produced is usually soft, not the granite boulder anticipated after all that labor. Is this constipation? No. It’s just that these babies haven’t yet learned to relax their rectal muscles when pushing normal stool out. It’s like trying to force a door open that’s still latched shut. After a few weeks, virtually all babies catch on and the purple faced bowel movement is a thing of the past.
Babies are truly constipated when infrequently passed stool is large and formed, looking more like the stool of an older child or an adult. True constipation can, indeed, result in cramps, excessive gas, fullness and discomfort while feeding. Usually increasing fluid intake, changing the formula . When these simple remedies fail to work, the baby needs to be evaluated for other conditions such as Hirschsprung’s Disease and hypothyroidism, among others. Often, the cause is genetic. Just ask mom about her bowel habits.
Although it’s common to blame constipation for almost everything, must cranky babies are not constipated even when their movements are infrequent. If your cranky baby doesn’t pass large, hard stools, look for another answer.
The fourth myth
Babies who are always cranky must have something wrong with them.
Despite exhaustive efforts by parents, some infants are just plain miserable! Don’t blame the frustrated parents. Some babies who are cranky with no apparent reason may have inherited an irritable temperament. Every baby is born with a different threshold for crankiness. Have you ever noticed that some babies always seem relaxed while others jump out of their skin when you look at them? Nothing appears to soothe some infants, neither singing, cuddling or rocking seems to work. These babies are a source of great frustration, parents feeling guilty and inadequate. Nothing could be further from the truth since these parents usually expend much more energy in the care of their babies than those whose babies are “laid back.” These cranky babies eventually become mellower and parents learn to deal with a slightly whiney personality as the child matures.
And then there are those infants who are happy most of the day until they enter the “witching” hours, usually between 6 P.M. and midnight. This group can drive parents to drink. For no apparent reason, witching hour babies cry inconsolably for several hours during the evening. Nothing soothes them and yet nothing is wrong with them. They merely cry at the top of their lungs until the period of “witching” passes, reverting to their former peaceful, happy state. Most pediatricians feel that this merely represents an immature arousal cycle in the infant’s developing central nervous system. The good news is that this irritable condition, usually inherited from one or both parents, is short lived, a few weeks at the most. Questioning the grandparents almost always reveals that one of the parents was a “difficult” baby. The cure for this type of “colic” comes with time since, by six to eight weeks most babies learn to enjoy life a little more. So do the parents.
It’s important to rule out all organic causes of discomfort in your baby. If he is healthy but continues to be cranky, don’t despair. Time is on your side and even the most miserable baby, after a few weeks, should become much happier. So should you.