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Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Crying


Crying In A Small Child Who Looks Sick

Such a child should be shown to a doctor. He may have an infection like an earache, a cold with a blocked nose, a flu-like illness with headache and body ache, a chest infection like bronchiolitis or infection of the meninges and raised intracranial pressure due to a tumour. The crying may also be due to abdominal pain. These conditions are discussed under their respective headings.

Crying In A Child Who Appears Otherwise All Right
Hunger remains one of the commonest causes of crying. Even a toddler may cry for this reason. But all crying is not due to hunger. If in doubt, feed the child. Otherwise, look for other possible causes.

A child may cry because he is feeling hot or cold, or has a wet nappy, or wants to be picked up and cuddled or shown things in the home or has been overstimulated by adults around him or is just feeling tired. Some small babies quieten as soon as they are wrapped up in a sheet or blanket.

Other causes of crying are pain at the site of an injection or a child having been hit by an older sibling. Do not leave the latter alone with the baby again, but also do not punish him.

Infantile Colic
Babies may also have sudden bouts of crying for no apparent reason. The onset of these bouts is usually between the age of 2 and 4 weeks. They can occur at any time of the day or night but are more common after about 6.00 in the evening. The baby suddenly starts crying. Nothing seems to work. The child screams at the top of his voice, draws his thighs and legs towards his abdomen, may pass some gas or have a distended abdomen. Colicky cries are slightly shorter than those caused by hunger.

These attacks usually stop by the time the child is 3 months old, and are termed evening colic or 3 months’ colic. Highest rates of infantile colic are seen in babies of older first-time mothers with non-manual occupations and more years of education. Whether the rate of colic is actually higher or whether such mothers are more likely to report the problem is not yet clear.

MANAGEMENT: Don’t allow the child to cry unnecessarily. If a child keeps crying, he swallows more air, which probably makes him cry more because of anger and distension of the abdomen. Do not hesitate to pick him up for fear of spoiling him. A small child’s need has to be met — be it for food or more human contact. Make the child feel secure, loved and wanted. You will have enough time to discipline him later.

Children can cry because of habit. Even small infants can take advantage of our ‘goodness’. So if the child was playing on his own, you do not have to pick him up or talk to him. If he suddenly starts crying while you are in the kitchen, you need not leave everything behind and rush to him, unless you hear an unusual cry. Attend to what you are doing, then go to pick him up and meet his need. You do not have to be unduly apologetic for the delay. An older child can learn to manipulate, if you or other relatives let him have his way all the time (see Sleep And Sleep Problems).

Although it has not been proven that certain foods eaten by a breastfeeding mother can upset her baby, it may be worth omitting milk, egg, fish, peanuts and peanut butter, soya preparations, wheat, caffeine, garlic, onion and cabbage from your diet for a few days. If you find a marked improvement in the child, you can again try and introduce these food items in turn and see if you can find a correlation between any particular food and colic in your baby.

Also try:

  • The colic positions - put baby on his tummy across your knees; hold him against your chest, or hold him on his tummy across your forearm with his legs on either side of your arm.
  • Rocking him with or without soft music in the background.
  • Sharing his care with someone else. Never shake a baby vigorously in anger or irritation — you may damage his eyes as well as his brain. Let someone else handle him if you are feeling exhausted.
  • Dicyclomine if your doctor advises it, but not too often. If elders at home recommend a home remedy, it may be worth trying it after you have cleared it with your doctor. I do not recommend the routine use of drugs, or gripe waters or ‘digestive’ medicines. I am against the use of pacifiers. A crying child needs our attention and not a pacifier. A pacifier also interferes with successful breastfeeding. It is also a possible source of infection. 
  • Half a teaspoon of sugar water. It has been found to have a pain-relieving effect on colic. Sugar water given before a minor painful procedure like a skin prick has also been found to be helpful. Given a minute before the procedure, it not only reduces the duration of crying, if any, but also reduces the increased heart rate induced by pain. The sugar water seems to do this by some sort of morphine effect, because any benefit of sugar water is negated if the infant is also given naloxone — an antimorphine drug.

7 March, 2016

Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Calcium Deficiency
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Convulsions or Fits or Seizures
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
Eye Problems
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Head Injury
Influenza (Flu)
Joint Disorders
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
Menstrual Problems
Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Short Child
Skin Conditions
Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
Tracheoesophageal Fistula
Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)

Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
Guide to Child Care
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand

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