Babies cry all the time. It is one way they use to communicate with their parents. When your baby gives that specific cry you can tell exactly whether it is time for feeding, a nappy change or something else. But, sometimes babies start to cry continuously for hours on a regular basis for no apparent reason and their parents often struggle to pinpoint the exact cause. If this is the case with your baby as well, then your baby can be having a condition called, “Colic”.
What is infant colic?
Infant colic is a condition characterized by paroxysmal, inconsolable crying or screaming in babies who were once healthy and doing perfectly fine. This condition usually occurs in the first few weeks of life and resolves by 4months of age. If your baby cries continuously for about three hours a day, three days a week and continues to do so for at least three consecutive weeks, your baby might be having infant colic.
Symptoms of colic
A baby with colic normally cries at the same time every day usually in the late afternoon or evening.
Baby cries for no apparent reason.
Baby draws up its knees, clenches its fists, and has tense abdominal muscles during an episode.
Sometimes excessive gas passing occurs.
Irritability after feeding
Causes for colic
Although, the exact cause of infant colic is unknown, there are several theories.
Being highly sensitive to external stimuli
Having an immature digestive system
Presence of an under-developed lower esophageal sphincter which results in acid reflux
Having a smoking mother
Food allergy or intolerance to mother’s diet
How to prevent colic
There’s no exact method as such to prevent colic. Sometimes, no matter what you do to prevent, your baby will go through a colic episode anyway. But here are some tips that will be useful for you.
Practice good feeding techniques. Hold your baby upright while feeding. Do not overfeed your baby making him/her uncomfortable. You can pace the meals for at least 2-3 hours. Feed smaller amounts. While feeding, allow the child to burp every now and then.
If you are breastfeeding, try to eliminate potentially irritating food items from your own diet that can cause allergies and discomforts in the baby.
Try to identify the triggering factors of colic affecting your baby and find remedies accordingly.
Engage more in activities and habits which can keep your baby comfortable and calm.
Remedies for Colic
Hold your baby as much as possible. It will help it to calm down.
Rocking your baby in gentle movements will keep it calm. It will also be useful in passing gas. When babies cry they tend to swallow more air creating discomfort in their stomach. This induces more crying. Rocking movements will help the baby pass gas more easily and be more comfortable.
If you are using baby formula instead of breast milk, you can switch to hydrolysate infant formula which is easy to be digested.
Choose milk bottles which allow less air into the mouth while swallowing.
Give your baby a pacifier.
Maintain a soothing environment around the baby. Use dim lights. Speak softly in a low voice. Sing lullabies.
Use a blanket to keep your baby warm and comfortable.
Take your baby for a walk in a stroller in a park or any hassle-free place.
Gently rub or pat the back of your baby while keeping it in a face-down lying position. This is known as the “colic carry”.
Rub your baby’s belly with gentle pressure. It will be really relaxing for a colic baby.
Using gripe water
Using gas relief medications
Using probiotics that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your baby’s digestive tract
If significant changes in the sleeping, eating, and behavioral patterns of your baby can be observed, you should seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will run tests to identify any pathological causes for your baby’s colic behavior.