In this article, we will look at the signs of colic in babies, the causes of it, and the best remedies.
Babies cry. It’s their way of communicating. But it shouldn’t last for hours at a time. If your baby cries at length yet, they are healthy, this could indicate that they are suffering from colic.
Although baby colic is not a disease and there is no guaranteed cure, there are several things you can try that may help to manage the condition.
Colic in Babies Overview
Baby colic is a condition that affects babies at a specific period in their developmental stage. It’s estimated that one in every five babies will suffer from colic before they are four weeks old, with most of those affected being between the ages of 2 and 4 weeks, and up to four months of age.
The incidence of colic typically peaks when the child is approximately six weeks old. It tends to ease off over the subsequent six to ten weeks, then stops. At this point, 80 to 90 percent of babies no longer suffer from colic. The small percentage who do should be entirely over it by the time they are five months of age, so hang in there!
Signs of Colic in Babies
When a healthy baby cries uncontrollably and inconsolably for around three hours in a day at least three days a week for three successive weeks, he or she is likely to have colic.
Another of the signs of colic in babies is that they display specific postures when they cry. These include clenched fists, stretching their legs out, and other irregular arm and leg movements. Recoiling, when touched, can also indicate colic, as can spitting, vomiting, and bowel episodes.
Next, we will look at the leading causes of colic in babies.
Causes of Colic in Babies
No scientific evidence has proven beyond doubt the causes of colic in babies, and why some babies get it, and others don’t; however, numerous theories have been investigated to try and uncover the cause of this condition. Included among these are the following:
Immature gastrointestinal tract
At this stage in life, the baby’s digestive tract is considered to be adapting to the new food, be it the mother’s milk or formula. This may lead to indigestion, pain, and gas that makes the child uncomfortable.
Some researchers believe that the babies digestive system is suffering from a misbalance of probiotic; the good bacteria that assist in digestion and improves overall gut health.
This theory revolves around sensitivity to formula milk and foods the mother eats that pass to the baby via breast milk. These allergies may lead to pain in the abdomen, and the baby cries as a result of this.
Acid reflux from the stomach is the basis of this theory.
It is presumed that at this stage, the esophageal sphincter is immature and unable to contain the stomach contents. This results in irritation that can cause the baby to spit and vomit after feeding.
Immature nervous system
According to this theory, babies who suffer colic may be reacting and adapting to their new environment. The baby is unable to cope with the stimuli overload, so they cry. Another theory supports the opposite view, this being that colicky babies cry as a result of under-stimulation.
This particular theory suggests that the baby can sense new parents’ tension and that they react by crying.
Keep reading to find out about some remedies for baby colic that are worth trying.
Remedies for Baby Colic
If your baby has a temperature or you suspect they are unwell, check with your doctor before trying the remedies below.
Rest the baby on his or her tummy
Sit down, and lay your baby across your lap, on their stomach. This position can ease colic in some babies. You can also rub their back. Along with relaxing them, this can help to disperse a gas buildup.
Hold them upright after feeds
By holding your baby upright after they’ve been fed, you can decrease symptoms of GERD, or acid reflux, which can bring about colic. Babies with acid reflux experience heartburn when milk or formula rises back up into their esophagus. This is more likely to occur when they are placed on their back following a meal.
Get them moving
Regular, repetitive movement can ease mild colic in some babies. Lay them on a bed and gently lift and move their legs in a cycling motion. This will help to disperse any gas. You can also try gently rocking or bouncing your baby, taking them for a walk in your arms, their stroller, or the car, or place them in a baby swing or rocker.
Change the baby’s diet
If your baby is on formula, try a different one. Likewise, if they are eating baby food. Read the label on the jar and look for a brand with different ingredients. Doing so can help you to determine if their colic is a result of food intolerance.
Try a supplement
Many parents have successfully treated their baby’s colic with gripe water, or a baby probiotic. There are a number of brands to choose from. My sister gave my niece Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water, and it helped enormously. My friend recently started her little one on BioGaia Probiotic Drops and she noticed an improvement pretty much right away.
NB: Do your research before giving your baby a supplement, and make sure you buy it from a reputable manufacturer and source.
Draw your baby close to you
Babies appreciate the security and comfort that their parents can provide. A cuddle will relax and help to settle them, and research indicates that babies who are held for an extended period early in the day typically suffer less colic at night. Carrying your baby in a baby carrier has also been shown to have similar benefits.
- Give them a warm bath
A warm bath may help to ease your little one’s tummy pain. Gently massaging their belly with a soft cloth that has wrung out in warm water can also help.
Other things that may help
Other things to try include taking your child outside into the fresh air, running a hairdryer, the vacuum cleaner, or other white noise, and giving them a pacifier. These are unlikely to have much effect if the baby’s discomfort is severe, but they can’t hurt.
Final Thoughts on Signs of Colic in Babies
Babies cry for numerous reasons. They cry when they’re hungry or tired, their diaper needs changing, when they feel unwell, and more. If you’ve ruled out all of these and the tips above don’t help, schedule a visit with your child’s pediatrician. He or she will examine your baby to rule out an underlying medical condition.
Dealing with a colicky baby can be as stressful and tiring for their main carer as it is for the child, so seek help from your partner, family, or a friend if need be. Try to stay calm, and don’t blame yourself. Do everything you can to help your little one, and remember that the phase will soon pass.