Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Do colicky babies have sensory processing problems? | Family Anatomy

"Colic" is just a description of a babies behavior...lots of crying for a certain amount of time. This term is not a clinical diagnosis. So often I see that babies with reflux or other digestive problems get labeled as colicky until they get treatment (e.g. formula change, medication, positioning, etc). But sometimes, especially with the babies born extrememly prematurely, there is still a fussiness about the baby including a poor ability to calm down once upset. Typically, we expect a baby to become organized when an adult attempts to calm them such as picking them up and/or rocking them, feeding them, repositioning, etc. The following link suggests that many babies with colic later become diagnosed with sensory processing problems. I tend to agree. I see this pattern often since I work with children under the ages of 3 years old.

Do colicky babies have sensory processing problems? | Family Anatomy

My personal experience with my son's fussiness was resolved with multiple reflux medications as well as eliminating from my diet the foods he was found to be allergic to that he was consuming through my breastmilk. So, by no means do I think every child with fussy behavior will one day have sensory processing problems. Yet, I do think fussiness that can't be explained by other things may lead to a later diagnosis of SPD. For more information on sensory processing in infants, visit:

This link provides strategies on calming a baby. It also gives descriptions of why a baby could be crying which better helps a parent to read the infant's signals allowing the parent to have more accurate attempts in calming the baby. Sometimes for a baby who over-responds to sensory input it might be taking away toys, whereas sometimes our instinct is to shake a rattle to give the baby a distraction. But this can make it worse, which in turn causes the baby to become more upset.

1 comment:

  1. I am also a pediatric OT, and have the experience of my two children. My daughter was colicky only in the evenings, and it seemed to be worse on the days that she had more stimulation. I noticed that she stopped being colick at the same time that I saw her able to turn away from stimulation to keep from getting too stimulated. She has absolutely no sensory problems past that point. My son was not colicky at all, and he has some very mild not worth diagnosing sensory problems. Interesting. My OT website is I will check out yours too