Dec 12, 2016

Dr. Gellner: Babies: the reason they cry and how to help manage their crying. I've got the support you need on today's Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Let's be honest, new babies cry a lot. It's a good thing they're really cute because sometimes they cry to the point you want to cry along with them. There are a few main reasons why they cry. First, their digestive system is still maturing. It wasn't getting used in the womb and now their bodies have to learn how to process breast milk or formula. The muscle where the esophagus and the stomach meet is really weak, and sometimes what they eat doesn't know it's only supposed to go one way. This can be irritating to some babies.

We advise parents to do reflux precautions, which are feeding smaller amounts more frequently, keeping baby propped up for at least 30 minutes after a feeding, and don't feed the baby when they're lying flat. And while this often helps babies, if your child is really uncomfortable during feeds or after feeds, and they're losing weight because they're spitting up so much, or they stop breathing during feeds, you need to talk to your baby's pediatrician about more severe reflux issues.

Next, babies get gas a lot. Parents are always telling me that their baby can clear a room and are way too gassy. Well, the main reason for that is babies swallow air when they cry. They swallow air when they eat. They're trying to coordinate this whole suck, swallow and breathe at the same time thing. Gas drops can only do so much. To help your baby not be so gassy, make sure they take frequent burp breaks while feeding. Make sure they have a good seal on the bottle or breast when they eat. And if they're on formula, they may need to try a formula that has the milk protein broken down for some babies that have gas. If they're nursing, moms need to remember if a certain food gives you gas, it will give your babies gas and adjust your diet accordingly.

Finally, some babies are just naturally more sensitive. They may or may not have true colic. What doesn't bother one baby may turn another into a screaming banshee. Babies are all trying to figure out their new environment. There are new noises and lights and uncomfortable soiled diapers to deal with.

While you can't change your baby's temperament, soothing your baby before they get overwhelmed can help. Figure out what works best for your baby. Some like to be snuggled, some like to be swaddled, some like a swing, some like a pacifier, some like white noise. Every baby is different and it can take a while to figure out what your baby likes.

Trust me, I had a colicky baby and it made me feel frustrated. Here I am, a pediatrician and I can't stop my own baby from crying. He's much older now and completely fine. We've all survived. Regardless of the reason, the most important thing to remember is babies can cry, a lot, and it's usually okay. This is the time when most of the cases of shaken baby occur because it's really hard to deal with a crying baby. So remember put your baby in a safe place and take a time out. Get help when you are overwhelmed and always be sure to talk to your pediatrician if you are at your wit's end.

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