Colic in Babies
What is colic?
The term colic is applied to any healthy, well-fed infant who cries more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks.
- Colic normally starts around age 2 weeks if your infant is full-term (or later if premature).
- It almost always goes away on its own by 3 or 4 months.
- Your baby’s sex and birth order, and whether you breast- or bottle-feed, does not effect it.
- Kids who had colic as babies are no different from those who didn’t.
What Causes Colic?
The cause of colic is unknown, and that’s why there’s not a clear way to help it. Some theories of what’s behind it include:
- A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
- Hormones that cause stomach pain or a fussy mood
- Oversensitivity or overstimulation by light, noise, etc.
- A moody baby
- A still-developing nervous system
How to Treat Colic
Based on your baby’s needs for colic, your doctor can help. You’ll likely have to try one thing at a time to see if it calms her. If it doesn’t in a few days, move on to another one. Remember that colic can get better on its own and you may just have to wait for the fussiness to improve on its own at 4 months or so.
Colic should go away by the time your baby is 4 months old. Until then, try these tips:
- Is it the breastmilk or formula? Some parents worry that what they feed their baby or what they eat if they are breastfeeding can upset him. Usually it is not the cause of colic, but it can cause irritation. If you think it might be the cause of your baby’s crying, talk to his pediatrician.
- Help him swallow less air. Try a special bottle designed to reduce gas or a nipple with a smaller hole. Sit him up while he eats so he swallows less air. Remember to burp him during and after feedings.
- Walk or rock. Motion helps calm babies. Walk around with your baby in a baby carrier (the kind you wear over your chest). The combined warmth and rhythm may lull her to sleep. Hold and rock him or put him in a swing or stroller. The gentle movement may stop his tears. If all else fails, secure him in his car seat and go for a ride. Just make sure you’re not so tired it’s unsafe to drive.
- Use sound to calm your baby. Many babies respond well to the gentle hum of a machine, such as a: Clothes dryer, fan. Vacuum or white-noise machine.
What to Do When Colic Is Stressing You Out
It’s a challenge when you have a baby with colic. Know that it’s normal and common to sometimes feel angry or resentful toward your cranky little one. You are not a bad parent to feel that way, so don’t feel guilty. Everyone has these feelings sometime. If you’re at the end of the rope, remember it is OK to leave baby in his crib or play pen for a short time while you leave the room to collect yourself.