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What Is Colic?

Colic is the term used to describe uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy infant during its first three to four months of life. “We typically diagnose colic if the baby is crying at least three hours a day, for three or more days per week and for three weeks or more,” says Dr. Mary Ann Wilkinson. “We don’t know exactly why colic occurs but it is thought that these babies are unusually sensitive to stimuli and are unable to self-console or regulate their nervous systems.

COLIC, BREASTFEEDING AND FOOD INTOLERANCE

Sometimes colicky babies are responding to a discomfort in digestion. A colicky baby can be sensitive to foods in the mother’s breast milk, so it may helpful for mothers to eliminate milk products, caffeine, spicy and gas producing foods to see if this improves the baby’s digestion, Dr. Wilkinson suggests. If formula is used, switching to a hypoallergenic formula may be worth a try to decrease gas and ease digestion, she adds.

COPING WITH COLIC

  • Don’t over-feed or under-feed your baby.
  • Make sure to burp the baby well after each feeding.
  • Breastfeeding moms can try to avoid caffeine, milk products, gassy and spicy foods from their diet to avoid passing these onto the baby in the breast milk. Formula fed babies can be given a hypoallergenic formula.
  • Use a pacifier
  • Try various “motion” techniques to soothe the infant, such as walking him around in a baby carrier or stroller, driving him around in the car in his car seat, putting him in a swing or bouncy seat that vibrates, or using “white noise,” from a fan or white noise machine, to soothe him. Swaddle the baby to give him the feeling of being in the womb.
  • Decrease environmental stimuli by turning off TVs, stereos, radios and by turning down the household lights.
  • Get a break. Ask a relative, neighbor, friend or babysitter to watch the baby and get away for a while.

Meet Dr. Wilkinson - CHOC Pediatrician

Dr. Ann Wilkinson is the current Chief of Staff at CHOC at Mission Hospital. She is completing her second term as Chief of Staff at the end of this year. Dr. Wilkinson completed both her internship and pediatric residency at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance. Dr. Wilkinson started out in medicine as a pediatric oncology nurse prior to medical school at UCSF and has been a pediatrician in South Orange County since 1992, currently practicing at Sea View Pediatrics.

Dr. Wilkinson’s philosophy of care: “I believe being a doctor for children is truly a family affair, requiring a joint effort between the doctor and parents to raise a healthy and happy child.”

EDUCATION:
University of California, San Francisco Medical School

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
Pediatrics

Dr. Wilkinson

How to Help Babies with Reflux

Some baby spit-up is a fact of life for parents of infants, but a baby who spits up a lot or often may have reflux, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician says.

Reflux is a condition wherein food comes back up into the esophagus from the stomach. This sometimes happens to babies because their gastrointestinal tract is immature and has not fully developed yet.

Quick Tips to Calm Your Baby

Sometimes called the “witching hour,” late afternoon and early evening can be frustrating for parents and babies alike.

This part of the day is a common time for even the calmest of infants to suffer some fussiness, says Liz Drake, a CHOC Children’s clinical nurse specialist.

Knowledge is the best medicine. Learn more about your child's health in these features from the experts at CHOC.

Screen Time Insomnia
Screens, including TVs, computers, tablets, iPhones and video games, can emit a blue light that can be a strong signal to your brain that it’s daytime or wake time. If the screen is being used at night, it can send your body a signal that makes it difficult to know it’s nighttime and sleep time.


Identifying Child Abuse
"If a baby isn’t cruising, crawling or getting around, a bruise would be worrisome unless there is an explanation,” says CHOC pediatrician and child abuse expert Dr. Wong. Another sign of abuse may be bruises in unusual places, like the abdomen or buttocks.


Current Diet Trends & Kids
A vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish, seafood and shellfish but includes eggs and dairy products. “It can be really healthy for children and teens. Vegetarian diets include a lot of healthy foods like fruit, veggies, whole grains and protein-rich foods like eggs, tofu, and dairy products.


 

The experts at CHOC Children’s and CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital in partnership with the Orange County Register have developed this site to provide you with the information you need to help keep your children healthy. From immunizations to broken bones, we’re here to provide answers to some of parenting’s most common, and not-so-common, questions.

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UC Irvine

CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine