Some babies are supersensitive. They jump when the phone rings and cry when they smell strong perfume. It should come as no surprise that some babies also get hyper from caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) or from stimulant medicines (diet pills, decongestants, and certain Chinese herbs) in their mom’s milk.
While many babies are unfazed when their mothers drink one or two cups of coffee, even that small amount of caffeine can rev a sensitive baby up into the “red zone.” The caffeine collects in a woman’s breast milk over four to six hours and can make a baby irritable within an hour of being eaten.
Stomach Acid Reflux:
Do Colicky Babies Cry from “Heartburn”?
Pediatricians have also examined stomach acid reflux (also known as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux, or GER) as a possible colic cause. This condition—where acidic stomach juice squirts up toward the mouth, irritating everything it touches—is a proven cause of heartburn in adults.
Now, for most babies, a little reflux is nothing new. We just call it by a different name: “spit-up.” Since the muscle that keeps the stomach contents from moving “upstream” is weak in most babies, a bit of your baby’s last meal can easily sneak back out when she burps or grunts, especially if she was overfed or swallowed air.
Most newborns don’t spit up much, but some babies “urp” up prodigious amounts of their milk. Fortunately, most of these babies don’t suffer any ill effects from all this regurgitation. The greatest problem caused by their vomiting is often milk stains on your sofa and clothes.
On the other hand, infants with severe GER are plagued with copious amounts of vomiting, poor weight gain, and occasional burning pain. (In some babies, stomach acid travels just partially up the esophagus, causing heartburn without vomiting.)
When should you suspect reflux as the cause of your baby’s unhappiness? Look for these telltale signs:
She vomits more than five times a day and more than an ounce each time.
Her crying occurs with most meals, during the day and night.
She often wails right after a burp or a spit-up.
The bouts of crying are no better by the time she’s three months old.
She may have episodes of back arching, hoarseness, wheezing, choking, and/or excessive and even painful hiccuping.