It's hard being a Mom when your baby keeps crying. It's even harder when you don't know whether your baby's behavior is due to his temperament or a potential health issue.
Trusting your mother's intuition is always a good idea when it comes to fussiness in babies, as is seeing your doctor any time that you are concerned about your baby's well-being. Your baby’s doctor can help figure out what's going on and provide solutions to ensure your little one stays healthy and happy.
Pinpointing a Cause
One way to gauge whether there is something more behind your baby's discomfort is to observe how he acts when you feed him or shortly afterward. Notice if he gets upset when you try to nurse or offer a bottle, or whether he seems uninterested in eating even when you know he's hungry. You'll want to pay attention to these potential signs of trouble too.
Baby reflux. All infants experience some degree of gastroesophageal reflux. It's what causes stomach contents to occasionally flow back into your baby's esophagus or mouth (in other words, baby spit-up). But some babies have more severe reflux problems. They may frequently spit up lots of liquid, forcefully vomit, choke or gag, arch away from the bottle or breast, seem irritable during or after feedings, or have trouble putting on weight.
Gassiness. Your little one's stomach may look bloated or feel hard or tense. He may pull up his legs or lock them out straight, clench his fists, and pass gas.
Signs of colic. If your baby keeps crying even though he isn't hungry, tired, or in need of a diaper change, he could have colic. Colic tends to follow a pattern of threes: crying for more than three hours per day (usually in the evening), for more than three days per week, and for more than three weeks. Up to 25 percent of newborns suffer from these crying jags, which generally start a few weeks after birth1. Colic often improves by the third or fourth month.
Itchy rash. Tiny red bumps on your baby's face, scalp, hands or feet may be a sign of eczema. The bumps may itch, ooze and crust over, or feel like dry, scaly skin.
Hives. Raised red welts or hives on your infant's skin suggest that your baby is having an allergic reaction, possibly to something in his diet or to pet dander, a medication, plant pollen, or any number of things. Hives typically occur soon after exposure to an allergen.
Respiratory problems. A chronic cough, persistent runny nose, and raspy, wheezy breathing may indicate allergies.
Constipation. Your baby's stool might look like little rabbit pellets or a hard ball. You also may notice some blood. Don't judge whether your baby is constipated by how frequently he has a bowel movement. Sometimes, healthy infants may go several days without one.
Infant diarrhea. The stools of breastfed babies are typically runny and seedy. Stools of formula-fed infants tend to be a little thicker. If your baby has diarrhea, you will notice frequent watery, foul-smelling loose stools. Because infants who have diarrhea may become dehydrated, you should call your baby’s doctor. In fact, if your baby is experiencing any of the symptoms above, talk to your doctor.
What's going on?
If your baby keeps crying, it is important to determine the cause. Any number of things could be affecting your baby's behaviour, which is why it's important to see your doctor. One condition to consider is cow's milk protein allergy. You might not be familiar with this health issue, yet it affects 2.2-2.8% of infants and is a common childhood food allergy2-4. Infants who have a cow's milk protein allergy may react in many different ways to the protein found in cow's milk. Most babies experience mild-to-moderate allergic reactions like colic, reflux, diarrhea, constipation, gas, skin rashes and upper respiratory problems. A smaller number have more severe problems, such as breathing difficulties, failure to thrive and anemia5. The most serious allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis, causes a mix of potentially life-threatening health issues—low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, distressed breathing, intense stomach pain, vomiting and hives—within minutes or hours of exposure to an allergen. Fortunately, this sort of allergic reaction is rare.
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cow's Milk Protein Allergy in Babies
1. Roberts DM, et al. Am Fam Physician. 2004; 70: 735-40. 2. Sicherer SH et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006; 117(Suppl 2): S470-5. 3. Schrander JJ et al. Eur J Pediatr. 1993; 152: 640-4. 4. Høst A et al. Pediatr Allergy Immunol . 2002; 13(Suppl 15): 23-8. 5. De Greef et al. World J Pediatr. 2012; 8 (1)19-24.