Parenthood comes with a great many joys and a great many anxieties. When things are going well, nothing can be better than watching your baby learn and grow. Unfortunately, crying is a natural part of a baby’s development. In the first few months, even healthy babies will cry often. When that crying becomes persistent and prolonged, on the other hand, it may be a sing your baby is suffering from colic.
Recognizing the signs
It’s natural for babies to cry more in their first three months than any other point in their lives. As such, it can be hard to tell the difference between normal crying behavior and colic. Colic usually begins a few weeks after birth. It will typically improve by the time your baby is three months old.
The difference between the two lies in the frequency, duration, and intensity. A baby suffering from colic will often cry for over three hours in a given day. Such crying fits will last for three or more consecutive weeks. The crying will be very loud and usually continuous.
A baby in the midst of a colic fit may clench her fists, curl her legs, or stiffen her stomach. She’ll likely be inconsolable and she may become flushed. It’s not unusual for a bowel movement to occur at he end of a colic episode.
It remains unknown exactly why babies get colic. Researches have long explored possible causes from allergies to lactose intolerance, but no definitive answer has been found. Likewise, there are certain risk factors which may increase a baby’s chance of developing it but none have been proven definitively. Smoking during pregnancy or after delivery, for instance, has been shown to increase the risk of colic.
Remedies for colic
Although in most cases, the only thing to do is wait it out, there are a few remedies you may try to alleviate your baby’s symptoms:
- Avoid overfeeding your baby. As a rule of thumb, try to wait two and a half hours from when the previous feeding began before beginning another.
- Consider changing your formula. If you’re using baby formula, you can ask your pediatrician about switching to another brand or one with a protein hydrolysate formula. If food sensitivity is the cause of your baby’s colic, switching formula should produce a change within days of the change.
- Nursing mothers can try eliminating certain foods from their diet practices. You can try cutting potentially irritating foods from your diet. For example, removing dairy, particularly milk products, caffeine, cabbage, or onions could help.
- Try a pacifier. Breastfed babies may refuse a pacifier, but others could find immediate relief with one.
- Rub her back while she’s lying on her stomach. The pressure of her weight on her stomach may help soothe her.
When to see a doctor
If your baby’s lips or skin take on a bluish hue when she’s crying, contact your pediatrician. Likewise, if you think your baby’s crying may be the result of a fall, injury or other illness, consult your pediatrician. To help your baby’s doctor determine the cause of your baby’s distress, keep track of when your baby cries and for how long in a journal or diary. You can also keep a record of your baby’s sleeping and eating habits in a journal.
It can be dreadful to watch your baby cry for upwards of three hours in a day for weeks on end while nothing you do brings any relief. While it may feel like a personal failure, know that digestive distress is not uncommon. Children and adults of all ages are prone to it. As many as 60 to 70 million people suffer from digestive diseases. Digestive system diseases were the primary diagnosis in 51 million hospital and doctor’s visits between 2009 and 2010. If you’re baby is suffering from colic, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or your baby isn’t otherwise in fine health.
Also take comfort in knowing colic is short-lived. Unlike more serious digestive diseases which led to 245,921 deaths in 2009, colic is not going to cause long-term harm. In a few weeks or months, you and your baby will come out on the other side of this frustrating ordeal having overcome one of your first major hurdles.