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Temperament and Colic

Two aspects of an infant's personality may contribute to the development of colic. Temperament traits that may play a role include distractibility and adaptability. When a baby is easily distracted and hypersensitive to stimuli, he or she may be prone to overstimulation and quickly start crying. If a colicky baby does not adapt well to transitions (such as from the awake and sleep states), crying may occur.

Is There a Link Between Colic and Temperament in Babies?

Temperament is the genetic aspect of your baby's personality that is already present from the moment they are born. Two aspects of an infant's personality could play a pivotal role in developing colic:
  • Distractibility
  • Adaptability.
When a baby is easily distracted and hypersensitive to the sights and sounds around them, they are prone to becoming irritated quickly. When a baby like this is overstimulated, things can escalate quickly into an intense crying session.
Once a baby with colic descends into a crying session, they become so upset that it may take hours to console them. What makes colic so difficult for parents is that most of the efforts to calm a crying baby are fruitless and frustrating. In fact, the techniques often used to calm a baby with colic (such as rocking, singing, hanging mobiles with lights, and music) can all be overstimulating.
Depending on the controllability of the sights and sounds around them, caregivers may be able to minimize the amount of stimulation the baby receives. This is one way that might help both you and your child.
If a baby does not adapt well to the transitions from the awake and sleep states, parents are likely to find that the crying episodes tend to increase in the evening as things are slowing down. Falling asleep is a big transition to get through. Going from crying to calm is another difficult transition. Unable to adapt to these transitions well, the baby might cry until they simply cannot cry anymore for the day.
For these babies that do not transition to sleep or out of a distressed state easily, it is a bit more difficult. The parents of these children need to hold on to every bit of patience they have and use that to get through each crying session. In these cases, it is very important to remember that the crying is not due to anything you have done or not done. Your baby is simply going through a difficult developmental period -- it will eventually stop. Just hang in there.
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