Colic in Babies

Babies with colic will cry or scream for hours, with no obvious reason.
Typically colic will start in the first few weeks of life. The baby cries for three or more hours a day, at least three days a week (but often every day) and it lasts up to three months.

What Are the Symptoms of Colic?

  • Intense, prolonged crying
  • The crying usually begins around the same time of day, often after a meal. It ends as abruptly as it begins
  • The baby shows signs of abdominal pain, with a hard distended stomach, legs pulled up to the chest.
  • Appears to have gas and abdominal bloating
  • Sleeplessness
  • Stressed out, exhausted parents

What Causes Colic?

Though there is no one single cause,
Some possible causes are:

  • Immature nervous and digestive system
  • Air intake from feeding or crying
  • Allergic reactions
  • Over stimulation
  • Gas producing foods

While there is no specific cure for most types of colic, some can be avoided. If you are breast feeding it is best to avoid very spicy food,gas-producing vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage, nuts, chocolate,alcohol and caffeine
(My personal experience was with my second daughter. Shortly before she was born we went blueberry-picking. I made and froze lots of blueberry pies, my favourite! Alas, after she was born, it became very clear that blueberries in mother's milk did not agree with my new babe. No more blueberries for me until after she was weaned!)

What Can You Do for a Colicky Baby?

  • If in doubt, always check with your family doctor or pediatrician to rule out such things as ear infections or allergies.
  • Always burp right after feeding.
  • Do not over-feed your baby. If he still needs to suck, let him suck on your finger or a pacifier.
  • Sit him up to ease digestion.
  • Use over-the-counter colic remedies (Talk to your doctor first!)
  • Do not over-stimulate your baby - too much noise,TV, bright lights or visitors may be too much for your baby's immature nervous system to handle.Hold and cuddle him,sing to him
  • Carry him with you in a sling as you go about your daily chores
  • If all else fails, a drive in the car will often soothe a colicky baby.

The important thing for parents to remember is that they did not do anything to cause the colic. One in every four infants has it. That is a lot of exhausted parents! Grandparents can help by letting the parents have an evening out now and then. The parents may hesitate to ask you to sit with a crying baby, so do offer. Go on - you have done it before. Be a hero to your kids and do it again!


Sources:The Merk Medical Manual, Seventeenth Edition, 1999, Quiz "How Can You Help Your Crying Baby?" "What is colic?"

Disclaimer:This information is for general purposes only. Always consult your doctor for medical advice.

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