Understanding Baby Colic
If you are a parent or spend any amount of time talking to parents with infants, it is likely you’re going to hear about baby colic. Understanding colic can help parents identify and treat colic more quickly which leads to a healthier environment for the entire family.
What Is Baby Colic?
Baby colic is intense, prolonged, and frequent crying in infants. Colic can be incredibly difficult for parents because their child appears to be in distress with no causes and nothing that alleviates the fussiness. Also, baby colic frequently appears in the evening hours as infants (and parents) are tired and worn down.
Baby colic can initially present around six weeks of age, and then significantly reduces between three and four months old. While colic will eventually resolve as infants grow, the interim period can be incredibly difficult for parents to navigate.
Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to lessen the effects of colic and maintain a healthy and positive relationship with your child.
What Causes Colic in Babies
The precise cause of colic is unknown, which can make it even more difficult to identify at times. However, it is assumed that wind or indigestion may play a role in whether or not a baby is likely to experience colic at some point during their development.
Some studies entertain the idea that a baby’s stomach is merely sensitive to various elements found in breast milk or formula. Lactose intolerance symptoms are similar to those of colic, but no research supports the link between the allergy and colic.
You’ll likely hear many wife’s tales as far as colic is concerned. However, there is no link between the order in which a child is born or whether they are breastfed or formula fed. Research does support that babies of mothers who smoke are twice as likely to experience colic at some point.
Symptoms of Colic in Babies
Crying is a common and normal thing for babies to do. Crying can help to identify when an infant has any unmet needs, such as sleep, hunger, or the need for a clean diaper.
It can often be challenging to identify when normal crying becomes fussiness, but doctors will typically refer to crying as colic when it occurs in threes. This means that the crying occurs for three or more hours, three days a week, for three weeks. At this point, a physician can determine that your child isn’t simply irritable and that they are suffering from colic.
Also, colic often presents with some or all of these factors:
- Extreme crying. Cries of discomfort or pain rather than hunger or sleepiness.
- Crying for no reason. Offering food or changing diapers doesn’t alleviate crying.
- Routine crying. Colic often occurs at the same time of day.
- Extreme fussiness. After the crying has subsided, the infant remains irritated.
- Facial discoloration. This can include facial redness or a whitening around the mouth.
- Body tension. Often seen in clenched fists or the tightening of other muscle groups in the body.
Sometimes colic appears to be relieved after the infant has had a bowel movement or passed gas and their abdomen becomes less rigid.
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How Is Baby Colic Diagnosed?
The diagnosis for colic is primarily based on ruling out other medical concerns. Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination of the baby and determine whether or not there are underlying issues such as a virus or an intestine obstruction. If the baby is determined to be otherwise healthy, then it is likely that colic is the culprit for the distress.
Treatments and Remedies for Baby Colic
Because colic is seen as a normal part of some baby’s development, there is no medication prescribed for the condition. Instead, treatment is focused on making the child as comfortable as possible.
Some options include:
- Wrapping a baby snuggling in a blanket to keep them warm, secure, and less likely to cry.
- Frequent, smaller feedings.
- Sit the baby upright while feeding.
- Breastfeeding mothers to avoid certain foods, especially spicy foods.
- Offering a pacifier.
- Dim lights.
- Holding the baby.
- Warm bath.
- Gentle massage.
- Going on a walk.
- Lactase drops.
- Simethicone drops.
- Exclude cow’s milk.
Of course, you’ll need to discuss the options with your doctor to ensure that you are providing the best care for the baby during this difficult time.
Colic, while not harmful to a baby’s health, can undoubtedly be a stressful time for both child and parent. If your child shows symptoms of distress, please talk with your doctor to rule out any other possible conditions.
Remember, taking care of a colic-y baby can be difficult. Reach out to family and friends when you need to take a break.
For more information, talk to your doctor about treatment options and additional resources.