Colic: Answers To Your Common Questions

What is colic?

Colic is the medical term used to describe a baby who is excessively crying despite otherwise being perfectly healthy. Your baby is considered colicky if he/she is crying for more than three consecutive hours a day, for at least three days a week, for at least three consecutive weeks.

What are the symptoms?

It is perfectly normal for babies to cry, particularly if they’re hungry, wet, or tired. If your baby shows any of the following signs, though it is likely colic.

  • Excessive crying, usually in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Inconsolable.
  • Loud and high-pitch cries.
  • Pulling their leg up to their stomach and arching their back while they cry.
  • Passing gas.
  • Flushed face

If your baby has other symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, call your doctor immediately as these are not symptoms of colic.

Should I be worried?

Rest assured that, although this experience can be frustrating and distressing for parents, it is not any cause for concern. Colic develops in about 1 in 5 babies and has not been shown to cause any long-term harm. That said, you should notify your healthcare provider immediately if your baby begins showing any of these symptoms. Your doctor can rule out any other possible problems and make a proper diagnosis.

How long does colic last?

Colic tends to appear after two or three weeks. It peaks around 6 weeks and then begins to improve. By four weeks, colic disappears in 80-90% of babies.

What are the causes?

Unfortunately, we haven’t yet been able to pinpoint the exact causes of colic. It appears quite randomly – in both boys and girls, babies that are breastfed and bottle-fed etc. There are, however, theories as to what may contribute to colic, and here are some possibilities:

  • Smoking. Along with many other risks, it’s been shown that mothers who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of their baby being colicky.
  • Sensitivity: Because the crying tends to begin in the evening, some doctors suggest that the stream of sights, noises, and sensations during the day may trigger sensitive babies.
  • Digestive system: Some experts believe that gastrointestinal issues can contribute to colic. 2-3% of babies experience stomach pains due to an intolerance to cow’s milk protein. Your doctor will be able to identify this.

What can you do about it?

There are a number of things you can try that may help soothe your baby. Unfortunately, none of these are guaranteed to help but you may find one that works for you.

  • Rock your baby slowly and soothingly.
  • Play comforting, relaxing music or noise that replicates the whooshing noise they heard in the womb.
  • Other babies, who are more sensitive, prefer silence and darkness.
  • Take your baby out into the fresh air for a walk.
  • Swaddle your baby.
  • Give your baby a gentle massage.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier.
  • To ease a gassy stomach, make sure you are burping your baby often, keeping them upright while feeding, and making sure they have a good latch when breastfeeding.

This can be a stressful time for you and your partner. Although colic is natural and no cause for concern, incessant crying is certainly distressing for you and your baby. Make sure you are reaching out for support from friends and family and let them know when you are feeling overwhelmed. Allow your support system to mind the baby while you take a well-deserved rest or take some time to yourself. Remember that colic won’t last forever and is bound to make you a more resilient parent!

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