Although colic in babies is not as serious an "illness" as you would think, there are a large number of babies that suffer with it. Unfortunately, anyone dealing with a colicky baby would not agree. The tormented cries of your baby are heartbreaking. It's easy to become unsure of yourself if you happen to be the parent of a baby that suffers with colic. Even experienced parents can find themselves at a loss when it comes to soothing these babies.
The characteristics of this "illness" include pain in the abdomen and stomach. The baby will usually pull their legs up towards their chest, or they may stretch themselves out trying to get relief. Regardless of how they react, their physical symptoms are real.
Some characteristics in newborn babies that would indicate colic include:
- an abnormally irritable attitude
- crying for no apparent reason
- crying vigorously for long periods despite your consoling efforts
- the baby shows signs of gas discomfort or abdominal bloating
- has a hard and swollen stomach
- knees pulled to the chest
- clenched fists
- flailing arms and legs
- an arched back
- experiences frequent sleeplessness, irritability and fussiness
Research shows that colic generally results from a combination of an infant's sensitive temperament, environment, and immature nervous system. This broad finding points to nothing specific that can be changed to help ease the suffering of the baby.
Since there is nothing specific that causes the problem, there is also no specific cure. What may soothe your baby during this attack will not necessarily help with the next bout. This is just one more thing that leaves the parents feeling frustrated and helpless.
When your baby is suffering, the crying and shouting episodes can last from as little as one hour to as long as an entire day or sometimes more, depending on the severity of the current attack. They will also be very restless. The shortest of these 'episodes' is enough to leave a new parent feeling frustrated, inadequate or even panicked.
Colic can start as young as three weeks old. Usually, these episodes will peak during the second month and will begin to wane sometime during the third month. Often, your baby's trouble with colic will end by the end of the fourth month.
The best advice is to pay close attention to when the baby starts crying.
- Is it immediately after eating?
- Did they burp well?
- Has there been a bowel movement today?
- Is their belly hard?
Also, pay attention to when they stop crying.
- Did they burp?
- Did they pass gas?
- Did they have a bowel movement?
At home treatment options may include:
- using a pacifier
- gently rocking the infant using a rocking chair or lap
- massaging the infant's abdomen or back
- a quiet, non-stimulating environment
- changing feeding techniques such as sitting them up more or breaking to burp more frequently
- playing relaxing music
- lying them in their bed, on their belly for 10 minutes and trying again to burp them
- carry them, with your arm around their belly while they are facing outward on your hip
Before taking any medicinal steps to treat your baby's colic, be sure to consult your pediatrician. Your pediatrician is your best source of current information on medications that are safe for your baby. It is NEVER a good idea to guess about which medication or dosage is safe.