A term that is often thrown around when talking about a fussy baby is colic. But what exactly is colic, why does it happen, what are the signs and symptoms. Our friends at Coastal Pediatric Associates provided us with some great information about colic.
Early evening is a common ‘witching hour’ for many babies, which is often the time that colic peaks. If you baby is content most of the day with the exception of the few hours in the early evening or night, or if they continue for about three hours or less – its probably not colic. If the crying lasts all day and night it might be colic. Babies with colic:
- Cry inconsolably
- Often screen
- Extend or pull up their legs to pass gas
- Stomach distended or enlarged
- Crying becomes worse in the early evening.
There hasn’t been any definite explanations to why colic exists with some babies but about one-fifth of babies experience it. Colic usually begins between the second and fourth week after the baby is born and can last until they are four to six months old. It is thought that a baby who is experiencing colic is having trouble regulating their nervous system and are very sensitive to stimulation. If a baby is exclusively breastfed, the colic could be a result of a sensitivity from the mother’s diet. Common sensitivities include: dairy, soy, nuts, and gluten. Unfortunately cutting out the foods can take several weeks to have an effect on a baby.
There isn’t many treatments available for colic but these practices may help:
- Eliminating foods like dairy, soy, nuts and gluten from your diet can help if you exclusively breast feed you baby. If the colic is severe, or taking such drastic measures to change your diet is too much for you, formula may be an option. A protein hydrolysate formula is the best option.
- Make sure to not overfeed your baby. While this is rare with breastfeeding babies, it can happen. Try and limit the comfort sucking or ‘pacifying’ [comfort sucking can be measured by about five sucks to every swallow as opposed to the suck-swallow-suck-swallow pattern of feeding].
- Walk your baby in a carrier to soothe them. Motion and body contact are both great ways to try and soothe your baby. If you are in the market for a baby carrier, check out these.
- Rock your baby. The constant motion can be a comfort for them.
- Purchase a white noise machine. We love the Aden+Anais Serenity Star and the Baby Susher!
- Try a pacifier. This has the chance of interfering with breastfeeding if you are having difficulties, wait until at least 4 weeks to introduce the pacifier.
- Lay your baby tummy down across you knees and gently rub their back. The pressure on their belly can comfort them.
- Swaddle your baby. This can make them feel secure which can calm them down. We really like these swaddle blankets.
- Ask for help. Babies who cry for extended periods of time can be frustrating to parents. Don’t be afraid to call on friends and family to help when you are feeling overwhelmed. It will be best for both you and the baby.
- Probiotics: some studies are showing that this ‘good’ bacteria can help infants with colic, but the studies are limited so advice from your healthcare provider is advised.
- Infant massage has been shown to help with colic. We have infant massage classes offered locally at From Here to Maternity. For upcoming events, check out calendar.
Myths about colic:
- Babies do not know how to cry to manipulate you
- You cannot spoil a baby by holding or comforting them for an extended period of time
- Rice cereal does not improve colic. You should avoid anything besides formula and breast milk until the baby is at least four to six months of age and your health care provider has given them the go ahead for solids.
- Mylicon [simethicone] and lactase do not help with colic and should be especially cautioned with babies who are being treated for hypothyroidism
This is a great study that tested the relationship between mothers who suffered from migraines and babies with colic. It shows that babies whose mothers suffer from migraines were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from colic. Why more studies should be done, it is definitely something to look at.
A good measure to see if it is colic is the 3:3:3 rule. Does your baby cry for at least 3 hours a day with no apparent cause; do these spells occur on at least 3 days a week and are they under 3 months of age? Usually colic is not diagnosed until after it has resolved itself. Symptoms will resolve 60% of the time by the time the child is three months old and 80-90% of the time by 4 months.
Did you baby suffer from colic? Do you suffer from migraines? What are your tips for parents who has a colicky baby?
All information provided by Coastal Pediatric Associates! They have 3 locations to serve the lowcountry: James Island, West Ashley and Mt Pleasant. They are also open late and 7 days a week!
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