Colic is a condition whereby a well fed baby cries more than three hours every day, for more than three days a week, for more than three weeks. Colic mostly starts two weeks after birth in a full term baby. It might start later in a baby who was born premature. You may notice that your baby may clench their fists, their face becomes flushed, arch their back or draw their knees up to their tummy. Colic goes away by the 3rd or 4th month.
If your baby appears to be in distress, then it can mean that she has colic. The condition is, however, not harmful. Your baby will still continue to feed and gain weight as normal. There is no evidence that colic has any long term effects on the health of your baby.
What Are the Signs of Colic?
Fussing and crying are normal for infants, and a fussy baby doesn't necessarily have colic. In an otherwise healthy, well-fed baby, signs of colic include:
Signs of Colic
Predictable crying episodes
A baby who suffers colic cries almost about the same time every day, usually in the evening or late afternoon. Colic episodes can last from just several minutes to three hours or more. During the end of a colic episode, your child might pass gas or have a bowel movement.
Intense or inconsolable crying
Colic crying sounds distressed and is usually very intense, and is often of a very high pitch. The face of your baby might flush and she may be very hard or at times impossible to comfort.
Crying occurs for no apparent reason
It’s very normal for babies to cry. A baby crying can mean that your baby needs a clean diaper or food, or is feeling too cold or hot. However, crying that is associated with colic happens for no reason whatsoever.
Clenched fists, curled up legs and tensed abdominal muscles are very common during colic episodes.
Why Does Colic Happen?
There is nothing specific that has been found to cause colic despite the many scientific studies that have taken place. Below are some of the reasons that are believed to cause colic:
- Reflux–a condition where by a child gets heartburn due to milk and stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus.
- Digestive woes, which may be due to intolerance of proteins and lactose in cows’ milk.
- A digestive system that is immature in which the muscles of the intestine are in most cases spasm.
- Gas (air) in the intestinal tract.
- Hormone levels that are higher than normal. These hormones are known to cause a fussy mood or stomachaches.
- Intense sensitivity to stimulation in the environment for example light, sound, etc.
- A nervous system that is immature.
- Intense temperature.
Watch the video below and learn how you to tell if your baby is suffering from colic:
Tips for Soothing Your Baby with Colic
There is no foolproof advice when it comes to colic as it is not fully understood. However, there are some things that parents can try out:
- Most children suffering colic tend to calm down after they are rocked either in a rocking chair, a cradle or on your lap.
- Some babies feel better when they are carried in a sling on your stomach, as your movement and your body movement may help.
- Some babies feel better and comforted, when they are held tightly or wrapped in a blanket.
- Some parents find that their babies are comforted by a ride in the car.
- Massaging the tummy of your baby gently may also help. This is because this is where the large intestines lay and massaging can help ease the pain.
- Monotonous sounds or music can help to sooth some babies some times. You can also choose to sing to your baby.
- Ensure that your child drinks their milk slowly.
- Ensure that your child burps more often.
- If your child drinks formula milk, try a different brand.
- Ensure that your child is seated straight when she is feeding.
When to Seek Medical Help
If your baby loses or starts gaining weight you should consider calling a doctor. Call your doctor if your baby:
- Does not like to be touched or held.
- Can’t be soothed even for a few minutes.
- Does not suck strongly at the breast or at the bottle.
- Has a cry that sounds unusual or the cry sounds like the baby is in pain.
- Has trouble breathing.
- Has blood in the stool or has diarrhea.
- Is sleepier or less alert than usual.
- If your baby eats less than usual.
- Is throwing up.
- Is running a fever of 100.4 degrees and above.