What is colic?
Colic is a type of condition noticed by predictable periods of significant distress in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. It is said that babies with colic often cry more than three hours a day, three days a week for three weeks or longer. Nothing you do to try to help your baby during these episodes seems to bring any relief.
Colic can be distressing for both parents and their baby. But you should notice that colic is relatively short-lived. In a matter of weeks or months, the colic will end, and you seem to have weathered one of the first major challenges of parenthood.
How common is colic?
Colic is usually worst when babies are around 6 to 8 weeks of age and goes away on its own between 8 and 14 weeks of age.
Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of colic?
Fussing and crying are quite usual for infants, and a fussy baby doesn’t necessarily have colic. In an otherwise healthy, well-fed baby, signs of colic include:
- Predictable crying episodes:A baby who has colic often cries about the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or evening. Colic episodes may last from a few minutes to three hours or more on any given day. Your baby may have a bowel movement or pass gas near the end of the colic episode.
- Intense or inconsolable crying:Colic crying is intense, sounds distressed and is often high pitched. Your baby’s face may flush, and he or she is extremely difficult to comfort.
- Crying that occurs for no apparent reason:It’s normal for babies to cry sometimes. But, crying usually means your baby needs something, such as food or a clean diaper. Crying associated with colic occurs with no clear cause.
- Posture changes:Curled up legs, clenched fists and tensed abdominal muscles are common during colic episodes.
When should I see my doctor?
Seek immediate medical attention if your baby’s crying could be the result of a fall, injury or illness.
Contact your baby’s doctor if:
- You notice a bluish-cast to your baby’s lips or skin during a crying episode.
- You’re concerned about your baby’s crying, especially if you notice changes in your baby’s eating, sleeping or behavior.
You can help your baby’s doctor by tracking in a diary when your baby cries and for how long. Also record your baby’s sleeping and eating patterns.
What causes colic?
Until now the cause of colic is still unknown exactly. Some researchers have explored a number of theories, including allergies, lactose intolerance, changes in the normal bacteria found in the digestive system, a digestive system that hasn’t fully developed, anxious parents, and differences in the way a baby is fed or comforted. Yet it’s still unclear why some babies have colic and others don’t.
What increases my risk for colic?
You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:
- Mothers of those babies who smoke during pregnancy or after delivery have a greater risk of developing colic.
- Many other theories about what makes a child more susceptible to colic have been proposed, but none have been proved. For instance:
- Colic doesn’t occur more often among firstborns or formula-fed babies.
- A breast-feeding mother’s diet probably doesn’t trigger colic.
- Girls and boys, no matter what their birth order or how they’re fed, experience colic in similar numbers.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is colic diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and he/she may ask you about your baby’s past health, what comforting techniques you have tried, and whether you have noticed any other symptoms. You may also be asked about how the crying affects you and to show how you feed and burp your baby. Your doctor may suggest that you keep track of when and how often your baby cries.
If your baby has any symptoms that worry you, such as vomiting or a fever, your doctor may do lab tests or X-rays to find out what is causing them.
How is colic treated?
Colic is able to improve on its own, often by age 3 months. However, there are no proven and certain treatments that consistently help every baby. Some treatment options may be recommended include:
- Gas-relief medications:These medications are generally considered safe, except for babies who have to take thyroid replacement medications.
- Probiotics:Probiotics are substances that help maintain the natural balance of “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. Since babies with colic may have an imbalance of these helpful bacteria, researchers have tried to replace some of these probiotics in a number of studies. One in particular, called Lactobacillus reuteri, significantly decreased colic symptoms. But, study results have been mixed. Some have shown benefits, while others have found none. Overall, experts don’t feel that there’s enough evidence to recommend the use of probiotics for treating colic right now.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage colic?
Following these tips can help you to avoid colic:
Hold your baby as upright as possible during feedings
If you’re breast-feeding, it may help to allow your baby to feed at one breast until it’s nearly empty before switching sides. This provides your baby with rich, fatty hindmilk, potentially more satisfying than the lighter, thirst-quenching foremilk present at the start of a feeding.
Consider changing your diet, if breast-feeding
A breast-feeding mother’s diet likely doesn’t play a role in baby’s colicky symptoms. However, in families with a history of allergies, removing potential allergens from your diet might uncover an unknown food allergy in your baby. If you breast-feed, your baby’s doctor may suggest that you try eliminating foods most likely to cause allergy, such as dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish, for two weeks to see if your baby’s symptoms improve.
Switch baby’s formula
As with breast-feeding, your baby’s formula isn’t a likely cause of his or her symptoms. But, changing to a type of formula called hydrolysate infant formula might make a difference if your baby is allergic to cow’s milk or has a milk intolerance.
There are a variety of bottles and nipples from which to choose. Trying a different type of bottle or nipple could help ease some of your baby’s symptoms. Bottles that have disposable, collapsible bags may lessen the amount of air your baby swallows
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Colic. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/colic-overview#2 . Accessed February 23, 2017.
Colic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colic/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20019091 . Accessed February 23, 2017.
Colic. http://www.healthline.com/symptom/colic . Accessed February 23, 2017.
Review Date: July 17, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019