Colic is the term used when referring to a baby who cries excessively and inconsolably for no apparent reason and even when the baby seemed healthy.
Babies that are younger than 5 months old can be considered as colicky. Usually, the crying of a colicky baby occurs for more than three hours continuously on three or more days during the week which then goes on for at least three weeks. In other words, the total hours that the baby has cried can reach up to 27 or even more in number.
The good news is that colic is not a disease and will not cause any harm on your baby for a long term.
Normally, a baby who has colic would show an improved condition by the time he reaches 4 to 5 months of age.
Colic is not actually a diagnosis but simply a behavioral observation.
The bad news is that there’s probably nothing much else that you can do but just wait until your baby grows past the stage and only until some calming tactics are applied.
Is there a way for me to tell if my baby has colic?
If your baby is crying excessively but you know for sure that he is healthy and is feeding well, it is highly likely that he has colic.
Some of the things that the doctor would consider before saying that your baby has colic are:
- if your baby has frequent bouts of inconsolable and intense crying
- if your baby cries most often during the late afternoon or in the evening
- if your baby pulls his legs up to his tummy and arches his back when crying
A colicky baby may also show the following symptoms.
- He clenches his fists.
- He has a bloated tummy.
- His face is red and flushed while crying.
- He passes gas while shedding tears, usually because he has swallowed air.
Taking down important notes
You can help the doctor with the assessment by taking down some notes. Over a couple of days, you can write: the time that your baby cries and how long it lasted; if the cry is high-pitched or louder than normal; possible reasons why your baby is fussy; what you did to calm him down and if it worked; your baby’s feeding (what he eats and how often he eats); and your baby’s poop details.
After studying your notes, the doctor will most likely do an exam on your baby to check for other reasons why he is fussy. This will cover doing a check on reflux, pain from an injury or illness, weakness or hunger, discomfort (if your baby is too cold or too hot) and food allergies or sensitivities if you are breastfeeding your baby.
What’s the best thing to do upon learning that my baby has colic?
The best thing that you can is to stay as calm as possible and to keep yourself reminded that your baby will eventually grow out of the colicky phase.
When it seems like your baby’s crying makes you feel frustrated, angry and blameful on yourself, try joining a support group whether in your community or online. This way, you can get reassuring messages from people who used to be in your shoes and eventually, you will find yourself back in track again, ready to face that wonderful world of nonstop infant crying.
When your baby has colic, you can do some things to calm him down or to at least distract him. If your baby is crying because he is unwell, it may be impossible for him to calm down and stop crying. However, if your baby has colic, you can try some calming tactics such as giving your baby a massage; playing some soothing music in the background; taking your baby out for a walk or even feeding him.
When you see that your baby has stopped crying after you have done any one of the tactics, you would then know that he’s simply colicky and that it will eventually end.
When should I call the doctor?
If you think that you have done everything you can but still, your baby is not calm and his crying is starting to give you stress, by all means call the doctor.
You can also call the doctor f you notice that your baby is not gaining weight or is losing some weight. This could mean that he has another health problem.
If your baby does or shows any of these behaviors , then call the doctor.
- Your baby cannot be soothed, not even for a couple of minutes.
- He has fewer wet diapers.
- He seemed sick or injured.
- He throws up.
- He runs a fever of up to 100.4 degrees or even more.
- He eats less than normal.
- He is less alert or feels sleepy than normal.
- He has difficulty in breathing.
- He has diarrhea or has blood in his stool.
- His cry sounded odd or like he is in pain.
- He is not sucking strongly at the bottle or latching well on your breast.
- Your baby’s lips or skin seemed to have a bluish cast during a crying episode.
Some tips to help your baby
While there is no singular method that works for all babies with colic, you can apply some of the following techniques that can help your colicky baby. Apart from the calming tactics mentioned above, you can:
- Try holding your baby when he is having a crying episode.
- Prevent your baby from swallowing air by allowing him to sit or to be held upright while feeding.
- Gently rock your baby over your shoulder.
- Allow your baby to burp after every feeding.
- Play white noise to him. This can include the sound of your hair dryer, a ticking clock or a vacuum cleaner.
- Swaddle your baby if he’s younger than one month.
- Dim the lights and promote a more quiet environment.
- Take him for a short car ride or a brief walk in a pram.
- Make a few changes to his diet such as adding some drops to breastmilk or bottled milk.