Colic describes excessive crying and fussiness in infants. Babies with colic are difficult to soothe and may have difficulty sleeping. Colic is more common during the day’s final hours, between 6 pm and midnight, which is unfortunate for parents whose grumpy hours may coincide.
20% of all babies develop colic between 2 and 4 weeks of age and can last until your baby is about six months old.
If your baby can be calmed within a few hours, they are likely just fine. If they keep crying, or the crying worsens and lasts for longer than a few hours, they may have colic.
Symptoms of Colic
- Crying that lasts all day or night
- Inconsolable crying that may intensify
- Extending or pulling up legs
- Passing gas
We’re not sure why babies develop colic. It may be caused by the sensitivity of their developing nervous systems. Sometimes, colic may indicate food sensitivity. However, excessive crying and fussiness can be an indication of another illness.
It is easier to determine the cause of colic if you can identify a pattern. Keep a log of feeding, sleeping, eating, and crying, and bring it with you to your next pediatric healthcare provider visit.
Tips for Relieving Colic
- Maintain physical contact. Try soothing by taking a walk with the baby carrier.
- Swaddle them.
- Try white noise and a rhythmic motion, like rocking.
- Limit napping times to less than 3 hours during the day.
- Keep nighttime calm. Use dim lights and quiet noises at night, and try a nighttime routine.
- Don’t overfeed them. Uncomfortably full babies can have extended periods of fussiness.
- Consider removing common problem foods, including caffeine, dairy, cabbage, or other irritating foods.
- If you think your infant is sensitive, try an elemental formula, like Alimentum, or a protein hydrolysate formula.
- Baby massage. Gently rub their back or their belly to soothe them. For tummy discomfort, place them on their left side and rub their back to facilitate digestion.
- Use a pacifier. Some babies don’t like the pacifier, but some may be able to self-soothe with one.
- Don’t let your frustration affect your infant. Babies can sense when we’re tense or anxious, affecting our ability to calm them.
Tips for Frustrated Parents
Do your best to protect yourself during these frustrating times. Take breaks as often as you can. If you have a partner helping with childcare, take turns. Deep breathe and choose things that help you feel calm. A simple 10-minute walk alone can make a big difference. Call family or friends who can help with care if you feel overwhelmed. Be patient with yourself and your baby.
You must remember never to shake a baby, place your baby in an unsafe location, leave them alone, or let your behavior get out of control. If you’re struggling with your emotions and behavior, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.
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