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You are here: Home > Baby > Baby Care & Health

Baby Colic Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

by Katlyn Joy | July 18, 2011 9:45 AM
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Baby Colic Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Colic. The word inspires fear and confusion in new parents, and sighs of remembrance in veteran parents. For those without children, often ignorance is bliss. "Babies really get colic? I thought that was a myth."

However, do not attribute any fussiness in a new bundle of joy to colic. It's not simply a cranky newborn state. Also, if you have a baby with colic, don't despair. It is a very temporary condition in the life of a new baby.

What is Colic?

Colic is defined by a rule of three's - Crying that lasts for at least three hours a day, three or more days a week and has lasted for more than three weeks is considered colic. Other signs include the appearance of being in distress or pain. This may manifest as clenched fists, crying that is wailing or high-pitched sounding, legs drawn up tightly towards the tummy, face reddened from crying hard, and abdominal tightening.

A colicky baby will have patterns of crying, not just random outbursts. Often the colic episodes begin near the end of the day or just around dinner time. The onset of tears will often be sudden and will frequently end with baby passing gas or having a bowel movement.

What Causes Colic?

Incredibly, medical experts still don't know. It's been hypothesized that it is lactose intolerance, allergies, digestive system issues or immaturity, sensitive temperament, or related ideas. However, none has been reliably implicated in this agonizing condition.

What Doesn't Cause Colic?

Poor parenting. So please do not blame yourself.

Poor eating or sucking reflex. Babies with colic are thriving and eat well.

Baby's manipulation. Baby is not crying to control you. She is genuinely distressed and probably experiencing some kind of pain.

Who Gets Colic

Few risk factors have been determined, although it's estimated up to one quarter of newborns get colic. Boys and girls have colic in equal numbers, as do both formula and breastfed babies. Birth order makes no difference and race is not a factor. However, children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy or after delivery have a greater likelihood of developing colic.

When Does Colic Occur?

Most babies begin getting colic by the first few weeks of life and will be colic-free or much improved by six months of age. However, in most cases colic disappears by three months.

Tips for Comforting the Colicky Baby

Feed a baby when he seems hungry. Never force feedings or withhold food either. Try to be receptive to baby's hungry signals.

Use white noise. The drone of some constant background noise can be soothing for baby.

Use movement. Rock baby, or place baby in a swing or vibrating seat. Go for a walk or a car ride.

Keep baby in an upright position.

Give the infant a warm soothing bath.

Swaddle your newborn in a soft blanket.

Allow baby to use a pacifier.

Rub baby's tummy or learn infant massage and try this to comfort your child.

Frequently burp your baby.

Eliminate gassy, spicy or dairy foods from your diet, one at a time, to see if this helps a colicky breastfed baby.

Hold your baby. Try an infant carrier.

Give baby a time out. Not as a disciplinary measure but in case the child is getting overstimulated and needs some me time.

If something works today, don't rely on it to work as well tomorrow. You may need to alternate, piggy-back or change up the comforting regime.

Colic Drops

Colic drops have been used for years to help aleviate the symptoms of colic, helping to aleviate the painful symptoms of colic such as gas, bloating, and cramping. The drops were originally made at home using dill, bicarbonate, and alcohol. The commerically available colic drops are now more recommended over trying to make your own blend as they do not contain alcohol. Here are a few links to gripe water products that you can buy today.

Mommy's Bliss Health & Beauty
Little Tummys Gripe Water

When to Call the Doctor


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