Expert Q&A: Crying and Colic
What about when my baby starts teething and cries a lot?
A teething baby often likes to suck, chew, and gnaw on things. Teething rings can help, or often I’ll have parents get a washcloth wet, then twist it or roll it up and put it in the freezer or fridge, and once it’s cold let the baby chew on that. Or you can try freezing a mini-bagel and let them chew on it -- but depending on how young they are you have to be careful, keeping an eye on baby so that they don’t bite off a big piece.
I will say to be careful with topical solutions, be careful that you don’t overdo them. I’d recommend checking with your physician before you use them.
When should I let my baby "cry it out"?
It depends on the age of the baby you’re talking about. In the first two or three months of life you just can’t spoil your infant, so by all means pick them up, walk with them, calm them down.
After that you do want to let them start learning how to soothe themselves. If you know they’re not wet, they’re not hungry, and nothing else is wrong, you can let them cry awhile and blow off steam. It’s OK to put them down and leave the room and relax yourself -- it’s OK to leave them and give yourself a break. Just leave them in a safe place and take a break and give them a little time.
What do I do if my baby cries so hard they seem to stop breathing?
Crying is not dangerous to your baby. It’s not going to cause brain damage and they’re not going to stop breathing. There is, however, something called breath holding spells, where a baby may cry so hard that they stop breathing for a moment or two and then start breathing again. If this happens, you do want to see your pediatrician to see if there’s something go on, but a breath holding spell is all it usually is. If they really seem to stop breathing or turn blue, call your pediatrician, but it could also be that the baby just cried so hard that mucus got stuck in their throat and they didn’t know how to clear it for a moment.
Breath holding usually applies to toddlers. Some hold their breath until they pass out, and of course it really upsets the parents! It’s not very common in babies, but I have seen it. You do need to see your pediatrician and get this evaluated. It’s not dangerous but it can be very scary for parents. Children do grow out of it.