Coping with Colic
When babies cry for long periods of time for no apparent reason, this is referred to as Colic. Although it’s very difficult on parent’s colic is actually quite common – recent estimates suggest around one in five babies are affected
The exact cause of Colic is still unknown, but some factors that are believed to play a part including, air swallowed during feeding and trapped wind from crying or overfeeding.
Colic tends to begin when a baby is a few weeks old. It normally stops by four months of age, or by six months at the latest.
Signs of Colic include:
The ‘Rule of Three’ usually applies: Bouts of crying lasting at least three hours, for more than three days a week, for more than three weeks.
The most commonly accepted medical definition of colic is the “Rule of Threes”: a baby that is otherwise healthy and has had his/her needs met, but who still cries for 3 or more hours in a day, for 3 or more days per week, for 3 weeks or more.
- Piercing screaming noise
- Drawing their legs up to the chest
- Tummy distended or prominent
Other common symptoms of colic include:
Crying that is a high pitched, ear-piercing sound;
Grimacing or frowning face, with a pained expression;
Red, flushed face;
Excessive gas (flatulence);
Knees drawn up to chest;
Baby looks like s/he is in pain;
Often worse in the afternoon or evening (but can happen at any time).
If your baby has colic, they may appear to be in distress. But the crying outbursts are not harmful, and your baby should continue to feed and gain weight normally.
Although there is no cure for colic, there are some ways to soothe your baby:
- Let them suck on your clean finger
- Rock them gently in your arms
- Wind thoroughly during and after feeding
- Bring the baby for a drive or a walk
Constipation is a common symptom with colic, and easing your baby’s struggle to go can make a big difference.
In between trying to comfort your baby, be sure to make time to get your own relief.
Taking care of a child with colic can be very frustrating and upsetting,
Get out for a walk, take shifts with family members to give yourself a break.
Go into a room and cry sometimes. Remember, you’ll get through it, and It will get better.
Colic is Not Your Fault (or Your Baby’s)
If your baby has been crying for hours at a time and nothing you do seems to help, you are probably:
Feeling genuinely distressed
Worried about your baby
Confused by conflicting information about colic
Exhausted from the stress and the sleep deprivation
Worried that you’re doing something “wrong” or that this is your “fault” somehow
Concerned about the impact of the crying and the stress on your relationship
New parent Susan admits:
The screaming made me feel anxious, helpless, frustrated, and even angry. Family and friends tried their best to help, but nothing they said seemed to. Comments like “It just doesn’t make sense,” “why is he doing that?” or “maybe if you hold him a different way” often fuelled my anxiety instead of reducing it.