Baby Colic- What is Colic |Signs, Symptoms and Tips

What is colic?

Crying is a natural phenomenon for a child. It is his or her way to express hunger and discomfort. Colic is the continuous and inconsolable crying, along with ear shuttering wails, clenched fists, curved back and unhappy red face, All this in a fixed time of the day during young infancy. It is a common condition, and 1 out of 5 infants get affected by colic pain during their first few months. 

If a baby cries for more than 3 hours a day and three days a week but looks normal and healthy, he or she can be called colic. Though clinical experts say, colic is a mysterious condition and has no apparent reason, it can’t be explained. Colic is neither dangerous nor harmful, and with time it passes away.

When does colic starts and ends

The cry generally occurs during a fixed time of the day. It often starts in the early evening and may last till midnight, ignoring every effort to soothe fears. Colic tends to begin around two weeks of age for a full-term infant or later if born prematurely. It automatically go away after three or four months.

Symptoms and signs of colic

A baby can be identified as colic if she has such symptoms.

  • The baby cries furiously, which may last from a few minutes to much prolonged period.
  • The crying starts suddenly and has no apparent reason.
  • Baby’s face becomes red, and the skin around the mouth becomes pale.
  • In the time of sleeping irregular episodes of crying may happen.
  • The feeding may also be hampered by intense crying. The intensity and restlessness vary from infant to infant.
  • The bowel movement of a baby gets increased, and he may pass gas or spit-up.

What’s the difference between colic and normal baby crying

Crying is quite normal for a baby. Normal crying can be comforted by reducing the hostile condition responsible for the baby’s discomfort. It may be for hunger, wet- nappy or undesirable weather.

On the other hand, the colic crying has a unique pattern and intensity in it. Though colic babies look perfectly alright and healthy, eats normal and gain right weight, they start their daily spell of crying at the same time of a day. She repeats the stressful episode every night at the same time.

Health conditions that look like colic but are not

Sometimes, in a very few and rare cases, doctors can rule out some hidden illness behind the colic attack. It may be the result of some specific illness the infant has been suffering or an infection. It could be the outcome of some gastrointestinal obstruction causing considerable discomfort in his small body. It can also be an injury or allergy to milk and formula fed.

What causes colic?

According to experts, there is no obvious reason behind the colic pain. It can happen due to various reasons.

  • The child is extremely sensitive or unable to regulate his nervous system. So he furiously cries. As time passes by, the maturity of the brain helps him to improve the self-console system.
  • Sometime in breastfeeding babies, colic is the outcome of sensitivity to a specific food included in Mother’s diet. In other babies, it can happen because of the sensitivity to milk protein or lactose intolerance.
  • An infant’s gut health is immature enough to digest some ingredients of breast or formula milk.
  • If mothers use to smoke during pregnancy, it is more likely to have babies with colic.
  • It happens because babies often find it difficult to adjust with the sight and sound of the new world.
  • Researchers discovered that GERD increases colic episodes in infants. GERD( acid reflux) is caused by the underdeveloped lower oesophagal muscle, which abstracts stomach acid to flow back into the throat and mouth. 

Colic remedies

  • Touching is good therapy as it gives the baby a sense of security and the warmth of physical closeness.
  • The hum of the vacuum cleaner fan or hair drier can console the babies.
  • Playing soothing music can help to reduce colic.
  • Gentle movements like swinging or rocking are beneficial to fight the colic attack. The baby enjoys it as she was habituated with such frolics while she was in the mother’s womb.
  • Change of location can magically transform a baby’s mood, .taking the baby for a walk outside or going for a long drive can help in reducing colic.
  • The new parents should know the act of burping properly. Burping helps a baby to be free from abdominal pain.
  • Sometimes, antigas drops help to decrease the discomfort of the abdomen.
  • Probiotic drops are useful as they curb the weakness of the digestive system.

Gripe water

Gripe water is a conventional medicine to combat the colic. It is a mixture of some natural herbs and sodium carbonate. It is an old and traditional remedy of grandmothers. But one should consult also the doctors before using such medicines.

Colic tips for coping with colic

  • Mothers should not overfeed the baby as it makes her uncomfortable.
  • Mothers should maintain a gap of 2 hours between two meals.
  • Breastfeeding mothers should take care of their diet and try to observe what causes tummy troubles for their newborn babies and should try to eliminate such food from their diet. The vegetable that causes gas, acidic fruits and allergic foods must be avoided.
  • For formula-fed infants, the mothers can think of switching formula feeds according to the doctor’s approval. They can try a new brand with a different formula.
  • The parents should limit visitors in the late afternoon and keenly watch the baby’s response to some stimuli which can offend him.
  • Parents can try to create a calm environment by dimming the lights, singing in a soothing tone and reducing the noises.

When to call the doctor for colic in babies

If a baby cries furiously without interruption and such a condition makes the parents worried, it is better to seek assurance from doctors. The doctors can identify colic babies by analyzing the pattern of crying. They can also find out the triggering factors (acid reflux, milk allergy and infection) behind colic attacks.

Parent Self-Care for Colic Stress 

  • Colic stress tends to make new parents worried and anxious. They must remember some points to combat stress.
  • They should not feel guilty as they are not responsible for the colic attack.
  • They must maintain a positive attitude. Parents should remember that they may be angry and frustrated for the time being, but they should not shake the baby. Shaking may cause severe brain damage.
  • They must get some time to do meditation.
  • The new parents should pursue family members to help them. They need to put the baby safely in their hands and take a short break for some minutes.
  • They should take emotional support from friends and family.

Farha Naaz

Farha Naaz is a mother of a 10-month old baby.