I have a month old baby who sometimes screams in pure agony. I want to emphasize it's not just crying but screaming in agony, like he's being poked with a needle. In the episode that just happened:

  • it was after he had a meal, so he's definitely not hungry
  • I always burp 10-15 minutes while and after a meal so there should be minimal air in his stomach
  • is swaddled, but still screams after re-swaddling
  • diaper is clean
  • checked his body all over and nothing is causing physical pain
  • not responsive to pacifier, I rub it on the side of his mouth, but he's not rooting and still screaming
  • put him on the side or give tummy-time but still screams, seems even more angry sometimes
  • hold him and swing for a while but screams through that
  • play white noise or shhh-ing him but screams through that
  • make him do bicycle legs but still screams and is resisting and kicking against it
  • raise him up and down to simulate weightless-ness. This actually does quiet him, but it's really hard on my back and knees. He starts screaming after I stop so it does buy me a few seconds of calm but I have back and knee problems that prevent me from doing this often.
  • pick him up and try burping him while walking around the room, but he's still screaming, and possibly even more angry

I brought this up to his doctor and she says sometimes he might be over-stimulated and needs to just calm down by himself. So my last resort is just to let him cry it out, this takes about 10-15 minutes.

I looked up colic which follows the rules of 3 (more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 times a week, more than 3 weeks) so it technically isn't colic because these screaming episodes last about 10-15 minutes and happens about twice a day, about every other day.

I guess I can just let him cry it out put what really bothers me is the intensity. It looks like he's suffering the worst pain imaginable: His face is completely red, he's crying so hard that he's choking between sobs, eyes completely shut with tears coming down, he's screaming so loud my ears hurt (I have to grab my ear plugs before going to his room) and my neighbors probably think I'm a baby torturer.

Anyone else experience this? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • raise him up and down to simulate weightless-ness. This actually does quiet him, but it's really hard on my back and knees. May I suggest looking for some kind of newborn swing set / bungee jumper? Like this youtube.com/watch?v=9VcfnqJ3YPk but for newborns, so your back (and your ears) doesn't get so strained.
    – walen
    Jun 20 '17 at 11:10
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    I'm sorry to close this, especially as there are answers, but I believe (as a physician) that this is a medical question. Your doctor should have discussed the possibile causes of abdominal pain in infants (e.g. intussusception) with you. In any case, this is not a routine crying issue, and should be treated as a medical problem (by testing and a second opinion if needed). Jun 20 '17 at 15:23
  • The OP mentioned that a doctor has already seen the baby; a recheck is probably important, but if the baby is healthy then that may not help the OP solve his/her problem. In my situation, my doctor did all of the tests and found nothing wrong with the baby, and only then did he suggest the possibility of a milk sensitivity. This strikes me as an issue similar to colic--a colicky baby should be thoroughly checked out by a physician, but the baby can be perfectly healthy and still cry inconsolably for long periods, and most parents would love some advice about how to deal with this.
    – magerber
    Jun 20 '17 at 16:23
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    @magerber - You have supplied the answer you want people to read. A baby "screaming in agony" needs medical care, regardless of what the first doctor said. To treat this as a benign condition is an error we don't wish to make on this site. If we err, it should be on the side of caution. Jun 20 '17 at 21:00

Welcome to SE!

If you have gone through the whole checklist of things it could be (and it looks like you have), and you've already asked a medical professional for advice, then there isn't much more you can do. Newborn babies cry, and it's sometimes really tough to listen to. Even more so when you are tired and unsure what to do.

Other than overstimulation / overtiredness, and especially since it was after a meal, it could be reflux. Our baby had this and it's very painful. Often newborn esophagus flaps aren't fully mature, so acid can creep up and irritate the esophagus and throat. There are over-the-counter medications that can help (in Europe it's called Gaviscon baby), but for sure ask your pediatrician if this might be the cause.

From looking at your list, you've tried a lot of things, but a couple more to try:

  1. Wear the baby in a wrap and walk around
  2. Go outside, sometimes the change of scene / noise is helpful
  3. Give him a bath, or take a bath with him

EDITED TO ADD: As discussed in the comments above, the most important first step is to go back to the doctor and have her recheck your baby. It is pretty easy to assume that a new parent is overly worried about normal newborn behavior. But, as @anongoodnurse mentioned, this is not normal crying behavior, and the most important thing is to make sure that your baby is completely healthy.

However, assuming that your baby is found to be healthy and is still having crying jags like you mention, I have a suggestion for you to try. My younger son did exactly this until we found out that he was having a bad reaction to milk products. What made it more difficult to discover was that I was breast-feeding him. But if I drank milk, or ate cheese or yogurt, and then breastfed him, about 10 or 15 minutes after he finished eating he was screaming in pain.

I temporarily cut all dairy products out of my diet (I still prefer the taste of soy milk in my tea, something I started back then), and he stopped crying. If I accidentally ate something with dairy, I would pump and dump. We also supplemented with soy-based formula.

My older son had colic (inconsolable crying from dinnertime to bed time every single night for about 6 weeks--gads was that awful!), so I knew that this was something different.

BTW--he just turned 20 and has no trouble with milk products anymore.

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