July 02, 2015

Q: If my daughter is not swaddled, she will only take a few drinks and then cry. Is there something wrong or is she just a picky baby?

A: Since every baby is wonderfully unique, there’s a wide range of “normal” behaviors. It could be that your daughter just prefers to be swaddled when she’s eating, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, she might be having some discomfort, and her behavior could be an intolerance to the type of infant formula she’s getting or it could be an indication of colic. Colicky babies often need to be swaddled much of the time, and it’s not uncommon for them to cry while nursing. Colic is a mysterious and challenging condition and, sometimes, mothers and pediatricians never discover the underlying cause. They just have to wait for the baby to outgrow it.

If your daughter has developed an intolerance or an allergy to a particular ingredient in her formula, she might be experiencing gastrointestinal distress when she drinks it, and swaddling helps ease her discomfort. I think it would be wise to tell your daughter’s pediatrician about her behavior or give the doctor a demonstration.  If the pediatrician agrees that your daughter is having some discomfort while eating, you might be advised to change her formula. If she’s currently getting a dairy-based formula, the doctor might recommend switching to a soy-based formula to see if your daughter is happier while she’s eating it.

Until you and the pediatrician get it all worked out, follow your mommy instincts about what your daughter needs to be comfortable, and continue to swaddle her while she’s eating.

Answered by Dr. Rallie McAllister