It’s appropriate that we should still call this condition by its medieval name “colic,” since we know about as much about its causes today as we knew 800 years ago.
A colicky baby is one who cries a lot and can’t be pacified. Technically, if a baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks, it’s colic. Colic affects boys and girls equally and tends to run from the age of 3 weeks to the age of 3 to 4 months.
There has been much research to find what it is that makes colicky babies cry, but the answer remains elusive. Abdominal pain is involved in most cases, and sometimes the baby just has gas.
Colic is not due to a disease. Colicky babies are typically healthy and full of energy. Even after extensive testing, no medical causes have been found. One theory is that an underdeveloped digestive tract is responsible. Others blame abdominal gas, food allergies, or noise and distractions interfering with sleep. By looking at the various remedies that have been found to help, we can guess it’s a mixture of these factors. Research also suggests that some crying is just a matter of temperament or nervous system maturation: some babies just cry more than others.
Other factors that have been found in some cases to have an influence on babies include:
The crying of a colicky baby is often high-pitched, grating, and piercing, even compared to normal infant crying. Neither food nor attention can stop it. Your baby’s face may be red, the fists may be clenched, and the knees may be tucked up into the abdomen.
The crying goes on for at least an hour, and sometimes as long as 4 hours. It often starts at the same time each day, usually late afternoon or early evening (unfortunately, when the parents are most tired). Sometimes, the baby passes gas or a stool shortly before or after calming down.
Colic is generally at its worst around the age of 4 to 6 weeks. If your baby is still colicky after 3 months, or cries nonstop for more than 3 or 4 hours, some other condition may be causing real discomfort and you should take the baby to the doctor. You may want to take your baby to the doctor when colic first appears, just for a checkup to ensure you are not overlooking something that can be effectively treated, especially if this is your first baby.
Always see the doctor if your baby cries for more than 4 hours, has a fever, becomes lethargic, vomits more than normal, or has bloody stools. These are not signs of colic.
You can’t assume that a crying baby has no real problems until you’ve checked all possibilities. Any number of infections or other conditions could be causing your baby’s pain. Diagnosing of colic requires eliminating these other possibilities. They include bowel obstruction; a scratched eye; a hernia; a hair or thread that has become tied around a finger or toe; or an infection of the bladder, brain, abdomen, or ear.
There’s no chemical or physical test for colic. If the baby is crying more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 times a week, and for more than 3 weeks and is not physically sick, then your doctor may diagnose your baby with colic. The difficult part is figuring out how to remain calm and not let the colic interfere with the pleasure of raising your baby until the colic resolves itself at around the age of 3 to 4 months.
If you talk to other parents, you will hear dozens of ideas on preventing a colicky baby from crying. Your doctor may suggest some of the same techniques. Most behavioural interventions have not been proven to work but parents can try them anyway. They are generally not harmful and they do give the parent a feeling of “doing something.” Trying to calm your child has been shown to lessen the total time spent crying, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
The following methods have been used for centuries to calm babies with colic:
Many people find that rhythmic noise, white noise, and vibration help. For example, some mothers carry their baby in a chest pouch while vacuuming. Cars provide vibration and a white-noise background, which explains why many colicky babies calm down during car rides. Washing machines, dishwashers, air conditioners, or the noise from a fan all provide a white-noise calming effect on some babies.
If none of these simple solutions seem to help much, ask your doctor about devices that attach to the crib that both gently vibrate it and provide a white-noise background. These devices are expensive, but for frazzled parents with a very colicky baby, they can be worth the price.
No medication has ever been proven to help colic (including those that claim to reduce “gas”). Some research suggests that probiotics (such as lactobacillus) may be helpful for babies with colic, but more research is needed. Never give your baby medications without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first. Breast-feeding mothers can also check with their pharmacist to find out if any of the medications they are taking may be part of the problem.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2019. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Colic