Baby with Colic

What is Colic?

Colic occurs in up to 20% of all infants and is found more often in first-born babies. It is characterized by hours of inconsolable crying, during which the baby appears to have severe abdominal pain. While this conditions can leave the baby and parents exhausted and miserable. This condition usually clears up within a few months. In many cases crying starts in the late afternoon or early evening, and continues for three or four hours. The baby often starts crying after a feed and more food may make the crying worse.

So what are the symptoms?

Crying seems inconsolable and the baby may appear in great pain. The cries are loud and strident and their face may turn red. They may also clench their fists and pull their arms and legs towards their abdomen. Their tummy might feel hard. The crying and screaming is likely to become worse as you increasingly become frustrated and tense.

What Causes Colic?

The exact cause of colic is not known yet, although there are many theories about the cause of colic. The most commonly believed of colic is caused by bowel cramps and the pain of wind building up in the intestines. This could be of air swallowed during feeding or crying or this could be of a baby’s inability to digest some components of their feed properly. Colic can also be worsened by stress and YES a baby can experience anxiety and stress too. Colic is not caused by an underlying condition.

What is the risk for a baby to get colic and how long does colic last?

Like I said the cause of colic is not known, but babies appear more likely to develop colic if they are first-born children, swallow a lot of air during feeds, allergic to cow’s milk (I do not recommend feeding your infant cow’s milk at such a small age read my article about allergies) or even exposed to parental anxiety and tension.

In most cases colic develops at the age of two weeks and peaks around two months, and will most likely clear at the age of three months. Most babies are free of colic by the age five or six months. At least we know that it doesn’t last forever! 🙂

What can we do to help our baby cope with colic?

Helping your baby is trail and error. What works for some babies might not work for others, but there are some measures that can sooth your crying baby. Things like

  • Baby massage – this will help your baby to relax and pass winds.
  • Try laying your baby on their stomach across your lap and gently rub and pat their back.
  • Try to introduce stimulating soft music in the background, don’t laugh Mozart can do the trick 😉
  • Take your baby for a drive – the humming and vibration of the car engine might help them to relax and pass winds.
  • Offer a dummy/pacifier for your baby to suck on.
  • There are also over the counter colic remedies that will ease abdominal cramps – ask your doctor for advise (buscopan for babies, gripewater or telement drops)
  • If you are breastfeeding try to avoid things like caffeine, cabbage, dairy product and chocolate, things like these may worsen colic attacks
  • Do what you can to relax, stress levels in mothers also affects their babies, making colic attacks worse.
  • Do not try to cope alone – an exhausted parent is likely to worsen the problem, try getting an extra hand and take some time off to recuperate, take a relaxing bath or something. This will leave you calmer and more capable of dealing with the next situation during a colic attack.

When to step back and call a doctor?

If your baby cries more than usual, call a doctor to rule out any digestive or other illness. You need to call your doctor immediately if your baby has a fever, seems ill or has any other symptom in addition to the crying. You will also need to call your doctor if your baby’s demand is causing you to feel depressed or violent!!! It is not unusual for a exhausted parent to imagine hurting the baby to keep them quite or get them to stop crying. If you feel there is a real risk for you acting on this, YOU NEED TO GET MEDICAL HELP AT ONCE!

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