No other common condition in infants generates as much anxiety, concern, frustration and even anger as colic.
First-born children are affected more, and it occurs equally in boys and girls.
As remote as it may seem – when you have an inconsolable baby to contend with for hours and hours know that it will be over in a matter of weeks and you will have a smiling, happy baby.
What is colic?
It is defined as: Hours and hours of inconsolable crying – cries for more than 3 hours per day, non-stop. A baby with colic will do so for at least 3 days in a given week at the same time day or night.
Unfortunately, the exact causes of colic are not known yet, although there are several theories about what may cause the condition. Possible reasons may be:
Painful gastro-intestinal spasms, flatulence, lactose intolerance and overfeeding.
Common side effects
- Excessive crying and appearance of being in pain
- Clench fists
- Draw legs up towards tummy
- Arches body
- Cheeks might turn red
- Stomach may be swollen and feel hard
- Baby might hold his or her breath for a short period of time
- Passes a lot of gas
What can I do to help?
Remember: What work for some babies, may not work for others! However, there is a range of measure you could try to soothe your crying baby:
- Gentle rock the baby in your arms to help him pass wind and hopefully calm him.
- Avoid over feeding the baby. Don’t feed to quick.
- Massage the baby. It is a good way to help relax your baby and to help him pass wind.
- Try laying baby on his stomach across your lap and gently rubbing and patting his or her back to help him pass any wind.
- Reduce the amount of stimulation in the room e.g. bright lights, noise and people.
- Offer a baby a dummy to suck on.
- If your baby is bottle fed, check that the teat is oval-shape to allow his lips to seal the opening and avoid excessive swallowing of air.
- Keep baby in upright positions for a couple of minutes after each feed.
- Over the counter colic remedies that ease abdominal cramping or reduce intestinal wind may bring some relief.
- Breastfeeding mothers should go through a trial period of avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and chocolate as it is possible that these are passed on to the baby via breast milk, worsening colic.
- Mothers also reported that their stress levels affect their babies, making colic worse.
- Don’t try to cope on your own. Get a family member to help you. It should leave you calmer and more capable to deal with the situation.