Colic or Reflux or Just Overtired? What’s Making your Baby Unsettled?

Many parents seek help and relief for their “unsettled baby” who “cries all the time” and report that the baby has “colic” or “reflux” and sometimes both! I immediately ask the parents if the colic or reflux has in fact been diagnosed by a paediatrician or their General Practitioner. Often the answer is “no” and the parents are only surmising that due to all of the well meaning advice from friends and family that this is the obvious diagnosis.

Upon finding that the colic or reflux hasn’t been diagnosed by the health professional I set about investigating whether the poor little baby is actually just overtired and needing more sleep. An overtired baby can trick the parents into rightly thinking that they have reflux and colic by the way they respond to the delayed bedtime. First lets look at the usual signs of colic and reflux and then see how they mask overtiredness.

Colic: Is usually described as at least three hours of crying/screaming for at least three days a week, from about the age of three weeks until about the age of three months. Colic babies generally do a lot of screaming at different times of the day which is not generally consistent on any day, go red in the face while crying/screaming, roll up into a ball or pull their legs up, may or may not burp after a feed and do not respond to the usual methods of calming when really upset.


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