The Crying Game

To determine why baby is in distress I ask questions about crying. This is only one piece of information, as I will also need to know your baby’s eating and sleeping patterns, birthweight, and progression of weight gain – to rule out hunger, tiredness, overstimulation, or some more serious conditions. Often distress is a combination of several things. The worst thing about gastrointestinal problems in babies is that it sets out a series of events and emotions that make the existing problem worse and difficult to deal with, for the osteopath and family alike. Especially if dealing with a severe case of Reflux (GERD), it is only natural to question your own skills.

If parents say: “my baby is crying all the time”, the first thing to suspect is gastrointestinal problem – Reflux, Wind, or Colic. All three conditions are often difficult to differentiate. Often reflux and wind are mistaken for colic. The term colic refers to severe pain in the abdomen caused by wind or obstruction in the intestines, and medical profession often uses this umbrella term “colic” to describe all three conditions. The colic (Link to colic text) as a diagnosis is a collection of symptoms. If your doctor says: “it is colic”, get a second opinion from gastroenterologist, especially if other members of the family have gastrointestinal problems – because reflux runs in families.

When does the baby usually cry? If your baby cries after feeding, it is probably wind or reflux. If your baby cries at the same time every day, it could be colic, but other problems need to be ruled out first. If crying is erratic and without pattern, it could even be your baby’s temperament – some babies cry more than others.

What the baby’s body look like when the baby cries? If your baby pulls the feet up to his chest, it is probably wind. But if your baby goes rigid, arches the back and neck, it could be a reflux, but also it could a part of his acquired motor pattern that needs to be looked at.

What comforts the baby when the baby cries? If burping or cycling his legs eases the crying, you most likely helped your baby to pass a wind bubble. If siting the baby upright , as in a car seat or a swing/rocker seat helps, it could be a reflux. Motion and white noise might be able to distract the baby with colic, but often one can do very little to console a colicky baby.