What New Moms Need to Know About Colic
It’s understood that all newborn babies cry but what if your baby cries a lot and for no apparent reason? Well, it could be colic. Colic can be an exhausting even heartbreaking especially for new parents who have no idea how to comfort their seemingly inconsolable infant.
In this Baby Care Weekly article we’ll help you navigate your way through this confusing and distressful time in your life as a new mom or new dad.
What is Colic?
Colic is not a disease rather it is an umbrella term used to describe an otherwise healthy and well-fed baby who cries a lot. Doctors diagnose colic using these three factors:
- Crying that lasts three hours at a time
- Crying that happens for about three days every week
- Crying that persists for at least three weeks straight
Here are some important things you need to know about colic:
- It usually happens in full-term babies aged two weeks. Premature babies may experience it later on
- It usually goes away on its own after 3 to 4 months
- It has nothing to do with genetics or anything that happened while the mom was pregnant
- It has nothing to do with your baby’s gender
- It has nothing to do with whether a baby is breasfted or bottle-fed
- Children who had colic as an infant are no different from those who did not
Signs and Symptoms of Colic
Your baby might be colicky if he displays the following symptoms:
- Crying for no obvious reasons
- Crying around the same time every day
- Doesn’t stop crying even when you try to comfort baby
- Baby stops sleeping or feeding to cry
- Baby is gassy or increases bowel activity
- Baby may flail his arms and legs while crying
- Baby may close his eyes or open them wide and hold his breath for a short while
What Causes Colic?
The exact cause of colic is not known but some of the most common theories are the following:
- Baby’s digestive system is still developing. Your baby is just getting used to eating and digesting food and may experience gas and other uncomfortable sensations after being fed.
- Infant acid reflux. Baby’s underdeveloped lower oesophageal sphincter may be a cause of infant GERD which in turn triggers colic.
- Oversensitivity or overstimulated senses. Babies are sensitive to stimuli in the environment like noise and they could get overwhelmed.
- Allergies or sensitivities to food. According to some experts, colic happens when a formula-fed baby has an allergic reaction to milk (lactose intolerance). It could also be triggered by a reaction or sensitivity to food from mom’s diet passed in breast milk.
What are Remedies for Colic?
Colic usually goes away on its own when baby reaches about 4 months of age but it can be stressful to hear your little one cry and not be able to do anything. These remedies for colic may give you and baby some relief.
- Let baby rest and relax in a dark and quiet room
- Give baby a warm bath
- Wrap baby in a warm blanket
- Put baby on your lap and carefully rub his back
- Play a white noise machine in baby’s room
- Keep baby’s room free from bright lights, loud noises and even visitors
- Carry baby to let him feel comforted and secure. If you decide to carry baby using a baby sling, check out this infographic for the safe way of doing it:
Remember, though, that your choice of remedy for colic will depend on what you suspect to be the cause. Closely observe your baby’s behavior and look for clues on possible triggers.
What to Do When Colic Stresses You Out
It’s distressing enough to hear baby cry, more so when this happens in prolonged durations over several weeks and even months. Here are some helpful reminders when you feel like you are on the end of your rope:
- Know that it is normal to feel frustrated toward your inconsolable infant. You aren’t a bad parent for feeling this way.
- Do not blame yourself for what baby is going through.
- Colic not baby’s fault either.
- Rest when you can. Ask your partner to take turns comforting your colicky baby so you will each have sufficient time to rest and recuperate.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Having a colicky baby can leave parents sleep-deprived and stressed out so don’t hesitate to ask your support group for help with watching after baby, doing chores or simply to vent out your frustrations.
There are no scientifically-proven cures for colic so beware of treatments that claim to be 100
% effective or best for all babies. The following are some common colic treatments you may have heard about and should exercise caution:
- Rice cereal in a bottle can pose choking hazards for babies.
- Herbal treatments like gripe water or chamomile. These are not regulated by the FDA so you can’t be certain the ingredients are totally safe for babies or are even effective at all.
Certain illnesses may be confused with the signs and symptoms of colic. If you are particularly concerned about behavioral changes in your baby, consult your doctor so that any medical causes can be ruled out.
The following are some possible reasons why baby is crying or cranky:
- An infection
- Stomach problems
- Eye problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Injuries on the bone, muscles or fingers
Contact your doctor immediately if you notice the following symptoms in your baby:
- Fever of 100.4F or more
- Seems tired and sleepier than usual
- May have an injury
- Does not have appetite
- Does not gain weight
Has your baby experienced colic? How did you deal with it? Let us know on our Facebook page