What Is Colic?
Colic is frequent, prolonged, and intense crying or fussiness with a healthy infant. Colic usually does go away on its own when the baby reaches three to four months old. Colic may be found in one out of every four newborn babies. For most parents, colic can become frustrating due to the fact there seem to be no obvious reasons why the baby is crying, and all attempts at consoling do not seem to produce any relief. These episodes often occur within the evening, when parents themselves are often tired.
Certain steps may be taken to lessen the duration of crying during a baby’s colic episode, it is essential to realize this is not caused by you, and you need to reduce your stress levels and boost your confidence when dealing with these episodes. There are certain steps that you may take to reduce the severity and the time of a baby’s colic episode, in order to cut down on your stress levels, and help you build your self-confidence, in order to build up your connection with your newborn.
Colic is when a healthy baby cries for a long while, for no obvious reason. It is common during the primary six weeks of life. This is a condition that normally goes away on its own when your baby reaches the ages of three to four months.
Colic is defined as when a baby’s crying:
Lasts for more than 3 hours a day
Happens more than 3 days a week
Occurs for more than three weeks
Colic often begins suddenly, with loud and mostly nonstop crying. This constant, extreme crying can be very stressful and difficult for parents.
Babies with colic are often fussy, gassy, and don’t sleep well. But in most cases, they grow and gain weight normally.
Colic will go away on its own as mentioned before when the baby reaches ages between three to four months old.
Causes of Colic
The exact cause of colic is not known to experts.
Colic may occur when babies, are sensitive and have trouble adjusting to their environment. After birth, newborns must get used to lights, loud noises, and other new things around them. But babies have different personalities (temperaments). Some infants can handle these things well. Other babies don’t adapt as easily. Crying could also be a method for a baby to point out his or her feelings.
Some babies seem very sensitive to stimulation. They can’t calm themselves (self soothe). Their nervous system is still developing and it is still immature. As babies get a touch older, they are better ready to control their nervous system. As this happens, colic goes away.
Other causes of colic may include:
Being sensitive to gas. Even though it has been suggested that gas may be the cause of colic, there is no support for this theory. In fact, treating gas has no effect on colic. Health experts also don’t think that colicky babies make more gas than other infants. Sometimes a colicky baby could seem to pass more gas than other babies do. But that’s likely because he or she swallows more air while crying for extended periods of your time.
Having a milk allergy or intolerance. Being allergic to milk or having an intolerance to the protein in cow’s milk may cause the baby to suffer from stomach pain. But often these also cause loose stool (diarrhea). A baby will react if they can not tolerate cow’s milk. There is no evidence that changing to a different non-milk formula may have any effect on colic. All families are at risk of having a baby with colic. Any baby can become colicky.
What are the symptoms of colic?
Healthy babies may have colic if they cry or are fussy for several hours a day, for no obvious reason. This often happens from six p.m to midnight.
The baby with colic has a cry that is normally louder, more high-pitched, and more urgent sounding than regular crying. These babies sometimes may be hard to calm down.
Babies who have colic may show symptoms such as:
- Burping often or passing a lot of gas. This is likely because of swallowing air while crying. It doesn’t cause colic.
- Having a bright red (flushed) face
- Having a tight belly
- Curling up their legs toward their belly when crying
- Clenching their fists when crying
The symptoms of colic can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is colic diagnosed?
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam.
You may be asked questions such as:
- How long and how often does your baby cry?
- Have you found anything that seems to trigger the crying?
- What comfort methods help to calm your baby if any?
To find out if your baby has any other health problems blood tests and X-rays may be required.
How is colic treated?
There are many tips for helping to appease and affect a colicky baby. Talk together with your child’s healthcare provider to seek out out more about colic and what you can do.
If your baby is bottlefed, it’s going to help to use a curved bottle. This allows you to hold your baby in an upright position.
To reduce the quantity of air your baby swallows during feeding, burp your baby often. Using a bottle with a collapsible bag or liner can also help.
Learning the way to understand your baby’s cry can help in handling colic. Also, remember that it’s normal for babies to cry out for a particular amount of time a day. What works for one baby might not work for an additional.
Other suggestions to try include:
Make sure your baby isn’t hungry. But don’t force-feed your baby if he or she isn’t interested in the bottle or breast.
- Change your baby’s position. Sit your baby up if lying down. Let your baby face forward if you are carrying or holding your baby facing your chest. Babies like to see different views of the world.
- Give your baby interesting things to look at: different shapes, colors, textures, and sizes.
- Talk to your baby. Sing softly to your baby.
- Rock your baby.
- Walk your baby.
- Give your baby a warm bath.
- Place your baby in an infant swing on a slow setting.
- Let your baby lie on his or her belly on your lap, and softly rub your baby’s back.
- Go for a ride in the car. The motion of the car often soothes babies.
- Try using something in your child’s room that makes a soothing sound, such as a fan, a white-noise machine, or a heartbeat CD. The sound of a vacuum or washing machine may also calm a fussy baby.
- Hold and cuddle your baby. Babies can’t be spoiled by too much attention. But they can have problems later in life if they are ignored and their needs are not met as infants.
- Try using a pacifier.
- Keep any stimulation to a minimum.
If your baby is bottle-fed and these methods don’t work, your child’s healthcare provider may recommend a one week trial of a non-milk based formula.
If you breastfeed your baby, the health care provider may suggest that you avoid foods that are likely to cause an allergic reaction. This means that you should not have milk, eggs, nuts, or wheat for a period of time.
Dealing with a colicky baby is stressful. It may help to let someone care for your baby from time to time. Ask an adult family member, friend, or a responsible babysitter. It’s important to take a break. Taking care of yourself and reducing your stress level may help your baby as well.
Home Remedies For Babies With Colic
Take your baby off cow’s milk. Some studies have shown an improvement in colic after dairy products have been removed from the baby’s diet. The culprit seems to be a protein in cow’s milk, which is present in many infant formulas, and in the milk of breastfeeding mothers who eat dairy products. The protein may be responsible for colic in about 5 to 10 percent of babies who suffer from the condition.
Changing the baby’s formula (there are many soy-based formulas available) or staying off dairy products yourself if you are breast-feeding, is worth a try. If your baby’s crying does not seem to improve after two weeks, you can assume that the milk was not the problem.
Add fiber to your baby’s formula. Some studies have suggested that colic may improve in certain infants when the fiber is added to their formula. In these studies, researchers added Citrucel, a bulking agent that draws water into the stool, to the babies’ formula.
Anywhere from one-half teaspoon three times a day to one-half teaspoon six times a day seemed to do the trick. Start by adding small amounts of fiber to the formula, and build up to higher doses. Although not the answer for every baby, adding a little fiber is safe and worth a try.
Chamomile tea. Chamomile combines antispasmodic and sedative properties and may relieve intestinal cramping and induce relaxation at the same time. In fact, chamomile contains 19 different antispasmodic constituents, as well as five sedative ones.
To make a cup of tea:
Place 1 teaspoon of chamomile flowers in a cup and fill with boiling water. Cover and let stand for ten minutes. Strain and, while warm or at room temperature, give to the infant in a bottle. A nursing mother may also drink the tea unless she is allergic to pollens. Prepackaged chamomile tea bags may be used instead of flowers.
Soy products. That carton of cow’s milk looks innocent enough, but it can be the problem source for five to ten percent of colicky babies. Many studies have shown an improvement in colic after dairy products have been eliminated from babies’ diets.
The culprit seems to be the protein in cow’s milk. Try eliminating dairy products for two weeks and switch to soy products, both for baby and for you, if you’re breast-feeding. If you don’t notice any improvement, assume milk isn’t the culprit.
Basil. This aromatic herb contains large amounts of eugenol, which, among other things, has antispasmodic and sedative properties. Place 1 teaspoon of dried basil leaves in a cup and fill it with boiling water. Cover and let stand for ten minutes. Strain and, while warm or at room temperature, give it to the infant in a bottle. A nursing mother may also drink the tea.
Mint. Mint has antispasmodic properties, which may help reduce intestinal spasms in colicky infants. Place 1 teaspoon dried mint in a cup and fill with boiling water. Let stand for ten minutes. Strain well and, while warm, feed the baby in a bottle. Nursing mothers may want to have a cup of mint tea, too.
Although it has never been definitively proven to be effective, peppermint-flavored water is a century-old remedy for colic. Scientists have discovered that the active ingredient in peppermint oil is a calcium-channel blocker, which may ease intestinal distress, a common problem associated with colic.
A peppermint stick soaked in water may be used as an alternative, but note that many sticks contain sugar. Never use straight peppermint oil to make tea. It’s too potent for a baby.
Remember one in four babies may suffer from colic. Always check with your doctor to make sure there are no other reasons for your newborn to cry. It is also very important you accept this temporary situation and do your best to remain calm and stress-free.
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