What is Colic in babies?

3 min read

Colic in babies is one of those mysterious diseases that come upon some babies and not others.  A healthy infant who is neither hungry nor needs a diaper change but who cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, and/or more than three weeks, is diagnosed as colic.  Here are a few things we do know about it:

•         Onset is at bout 2 weeks of age for a full-term baby but later for a prematurely born child.

•         Dissipates at about 3 or 4 months of age, without any medical intervention.

•         Can happen without regard to gender, birth order or whether they are bottle fed or nursed.

•         There are no long term or residual effects.  The child will grow up normally.

 

Causes of Colic

There is no definitive explanation for colic.  There are, however, some theories:

•         Muscle spasms in a growing digestive system.

•         Hormones

•         Sensitivity to stimulation like lights or noise

•         Development in the nervous system

•         Early form of childhood migraine

•         Emotions like fear, frustration, or excitement

 

If you have ongoing concerns, there are tests the pediatrician can order to rule out other issues like:

•         Infection

•         Acid reflux

•         Stomach issues

•         Eating disorder

•         Sensitivity to formula or milk

•         Issue with the eye like a scratch

•         Uneven heartbeat

•         Injuries

•         Inflammation in the brain or nervous system

 

Symptoms of Colic

The symptoms usually appear in the evening, but if not then, usually at the same time each day.

•         No apparent reason for the crying

•         Appears that they are in pain

•         Clenched fists, stiff arms, arched back, curled legs

Related: Infant Eczema - What you need to know

•         Turning bright red

 

The persistent crying can cause the baby to swallow too much air.  This can accumulate in the stomach as gas and give the infant a tight or swollen belly.

 

Diagnosis of Colic

Colic is a diagnosis of exclusion.  That is after other possibilities are eliminated, colic is what is left.  The doctor will probably want to know about the symptoms and any other medical issues the baby may have or had.  The physical exam will include looking at:

•         Energy level

•         Skin color and tone

•         Breathing

•         Temperature

•         Weight

 

Treatment of Colic

There is no standard treatment for colic and the condition usually remedies itself at about 4 months old.  There are some recommendations the doctor will make. 

•         If you are breastfeeding, check any medications the mother is taking or foods that may be causing the baby to form an allergy.

•         Try changing the baby's position from lying down to sitting up.

•         Walk around with them or rock.

•         Swaddle

•         Hold them bare skin to bare skin

•         Use white noise

•         Put them in a swing or vibrating seat

 

Parental Self Care

Being a new parent is a challenge in itself.  Couple that with colic and parents are going to get more testy, overwhelmed, or express other emotions.  It is just as important to take care of yourself as the baby.  Ask for help from friends, family, or babysitters.  The baby will recognize when your own stress has been lowered and will respond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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