Colic in Babies: Signs, Causes, and Tips for Parents


You bring your newborn home and marvel for weeks at your baby, who does nothing but sleep, eat, pee, and cry.

A few weeks later, he bursts out in long, ear-shattering wails, complete with clenched fists, flailing legs, and an unhappy red face.

You can’t comfort your crying baby no matter what you do, and he repeats these stressful, heartbreaking episodes every night at the same time for what seems like an eternity. Hello and welcome to the world of Colic.

What is Colic?

The truth is that all babies cry. It is the best (and only) way for them to communicate their needs at this young age. And as parents, we are biologically programmed to respond to meet those needs.

Colic is a collection of perplexing behaviors, not a disease or a diagnosis. It’s just a catch-all term for excessive crying in otherwise healthy babies. The only problem is that there’s no cure other than time. It’s also fairly common, affecting roughly one out of every five infants.

These fussy periods can last for hours at a time, even late at night. Worse, no matter how hard you try — and you will — it is tough to calm a colicky baby, which only adds to your frustration, worry, and exhaustion.

Rules of three

Doctors typically use the “rules of three” to diagnose infant colic. Your baby is crying because:

-At least three hours per day

-Happens at least three times per week

-Lasts at least three weeks in a row

When does Colic start and end?

The good news is that baby colic is not permanent. Most bouts begin around 2 to 3 weeks of age (later in premature infants), peak around 6 weeks, and then start to taper off by 10 to 12 weeks.

Most colicky infants appear to be miraculously cured by three months (though this is usually a little later in preterm babies). The Colic may end abruptly — or gradually, with some good days and some bad days until the majority of them are good and the stage has passed.

Meanwhile, a little knowledge and a lot of patience will get you through until the storm passes.

Colic symptoms

How can you recognize if your baby is colicky? Here are some colic symptoms to look out for:

-It’s worth repeating, but Colic generally follows a “three rules” pattern: Crying lasts at least three hours each day, three days per week, and for at least three weeks in a row.

-Crying usually occurs simultaneously every day (usually in the late afternoon or early evening, but it can vary).

-Your baby appears to be crying for no apparent reason (not because he has a dirty diaper or is hungry or tired).

-Baby may raise his legs, clench his fists, and move his legs and arms more.

-Your baby will frequently close his eyes or open them wide, furrow his brow, and even briefly hold his breath.

-His bowel activity may increase, causing him to pass gas or spit-up.

-The crying disrupts eating and sleeping — the baby frantically seeks a nipple to reject it once sucking begins or dozes for a few moments only to wake up screaming.

What Causes Colic in babies?

While the precise cause of Colic is unknown, experts know that it is not caused by genetics or anything that occurred during pregnancy or childbirth. It also has nothing to do with parenting abilities. It’s also not anybody’s fault.

Here are some theories about the reasons for colicky crying:

-Overstimulated senses: One explanation is that newborns have a built-in mechanism for tuning out sights and sounds in their environment, allowing them to sleep and eat without being disturbed by their surroundings. However, this mechanism has vanished by the second month, leaving babies more sensitive to their surroundings’ stimuli. With so many new sensations bombarding them, some infants, especially at the end of the day, become overwhelmed. They cry to relieve stress (and cry and cry). According to the theory, Colic ends when the baby learns to filter out some environmental stimuli and, as a result, avoids sensory overload.

Causes Colic in babies

-An immature digestive system: Digestion is a difficult task for a baby’s immature gastrointestinal system.

 As a result, food may pass through quickly and not completely break down, causing pain from gas in the intestines.

-Infant acid reflux: Studies have shown that infant GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can cause episodes in colicky babies, but it does not cause Colic. Infant GERD is frequently caused by an underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that prevents stomach acid from returning to the throat and mouth, causing esophageal irritation. Symptoms include spitting up frequently, poor eating, and irritability during and after feedings. The good news is that most babies get over GERD by the age of one (and Colic usually goes away long before then).

Causes Colic in babies

-Food allergies or sensitivities: Some experts believe that Colic is caused by a cow’s milk protein allergy (or lactose intolerance) in formula-fed babies. In breastfed babies, Colic may be caused by a reaction to specific foods in Mom’s diet. In either case, these allergies or sensitivities can cause tummy pain, which can trigger colicky behavior.

-Tobacco use: Several studies have found that mothers who smoke during or after pregnancy are more likely to have colicky babies, and secondhand smoke may also be a factor. Despite the existence of a link, it is unclear how cigarette smoke is related to Colic. For many other important health reasons, the bottom line is: don’t smoke or allow anyone else to smoke around your baby.

Tips for parents on coping with Colic

Though it is safe to say that even hours and hours of daily crying do not appear to harm a baby, it does leave its mark on parents. Listening to a baby’s screams can be upsetting, heartbreaking, and anxiety-inducing, as well as physically and emotionally draining.

To deal with uncontrollable colicky crying, try the following:

-Take a break: critical It’s to respond to an infant’s crying, which is their only means of communication. Taking a 10- to 15-minute break during a particularly trying crying marathon, on the other hand, won’t hurt, and it might help both of you get through this trying stage of babyhood.

Tips for parents

-Tune out a little: To lessen the impact of your baby’s wails, use earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or listen to music.

 Don’t tune out your child so much that it stops you from hearing him at all or for long periods, but the wailing will be quieter for a while.

-Talk about it: Cry a little on a willing shoulder, such as your spouse’s, the pediatrician’s, a family member’s, or a friend’s. Knowing you’re not on your own in the world of crying babies can make all the difference.

-Ask for help: If you’re at the end of your rope, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, whether from your partner, mother, friend, or babysitter.

 And, if you find yourself having difficulty coping regularly, consult your doctor or mental health professional. Not only will you feel better, but parental counseling has been shown to reduce infant crying.

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