Why is my baby so restless?

Dealing with a tiny baby who is struggling to settle can be very stressful. We explore what the problem could be.

14 October 2013
by Dr Iqbal Karbanee

The first question that must be answered is simple: Is my baby ill? If they have cold and flu symptoms, fever, loose stools or other signs of sickness, the causes of illness must be appropriately treated and managed. While not all symptoms require immediate medical attention, babies under six weeks must be seen by a child specialist if they have a fever. Babies at this age are very vulnerable to disease but do not necessarily show signs of illness, they may simply have feeding difficulties or appear lethargic. It is difficult for a parent to determine the severity of the illness from these seemingly minor symtoms, it is therefore vital that you take your baby to a paediatrician or nearest emergency room for an assessment if they have a temperature exceeding 37.5 degrees.

Colic 101

Colic should be considered if a baby under six months cries for more than three hours a few times a week. While this encompasses the medical definition of colic, every baby is different and there is a wide spectrum of severity of colic. This ranges from mild abdominal discomfort to full blown prolonged episodes of crying.

The starting point for parents is to get an accurate diagnosis. The baby who is restless and crying for long periods must be examined by a doctor to ensure that there are no other causes of this behaviour. Once the diagnosis has been established, the next step is for parents to understand that colic is not a disease, but a phase your baby is going through, and that this phase will eventually pass. This understanding is critical. Knowing your baby is actually okay and is not suffering from some major illness will help you to relax, which enables you to cope with a colicky baby.

While the exact cause of colic is not always well understood, possible causes include gastro-oesophageal reflux, food intolerance and milk allergy. There are medications which your paediatrician will prescribe that can help with the symptoms, and recently the use of probiotics has been found to be useful.

The trouble with teething

A baby’s gums become hard and itchy a long time before the actual teeth appear. This change on the gums can cause discomfort and sometimes even pain. Local treatment with gels and powders does help ease the discomfort, but may not be enough to pacify your baby. If teething causes severe discomfort and sleep disturbance, pain treatment may be required. Speak to your Clicks pharmacist about a teething formula and pain medication that is suitable for your baby’s age.

Clicks support: ClubCard members can access Dr Iqbal Karbanee’s website at www.paediq.com for expert advice on a range of baby topics. Simply use your ClubCard number to login.