Colic in Babies Symptoms

When babies cry, it can be hard to determine the reason. Crying is the baby’s only means of communication. He may be saying he is tired or hungry or even needs a diaper change. These situations are easy to solve, and the baby will quit crying.

However, a baby’s cry can be to notify the parent something is wrong. If a parent has continuously tried to sooth a crying baby but nothing seems to work, the child may be suffering from colic.

What is Colic?

Colic can be an excessive amount of gas that can cause abdominal pain, cramps, and bloating. This inflammation of the gastrointestinal system can be extremely painful for a baby. This pain is what causes the excessive amount of crying.

This excessive crying can be frustrating for the parents because the baby is otherwise well-fed and healthy. Don’t worry. Colic is common, and the baby will eventually outgrow it.

Colic typically only affects the baby for the first few months of life but can last up to a year in rare cases.

Six to eight weeks old is when colic seems to be the worst for the baby, but it almost complete disappears by the time the baby is fourteen weeks old.

Colic tends to have a pattern of three. The baby cries for at least three hours a day on at least three days of the week. This cycle then continues for at least three weeks.

After this pattern of three has been established, a doctor will then determine the cause can be colic.

Studies completed by the Mayo Clinic suggest that up to 40% of all babies will experience some form of colic within the first four months of life. These studies show colic is extremely common in babies and is not a reason for massive concern.

Colic can be difficult for parents because it is hard to determine the cause, but the parents must remember colic rarely lasts longer than a month or two.

Causes of Colic

The exact cause of colic has not been determined even with over 50 years of research. However, some experts have identified common causes of colicky behavior. These causes include:

  • When a baby swallows too much air during feeding sessions, the air can cause gas to be stuck in the baby’s body. This gas then causes bloating and pain which can then cause a colicky baby.
  • A baby’s digestive system is not completely developed yet. This system has never processed food, and the muscles may not have developed a rhythm for digesting food. As a baby gets older, the digestive system develops which may be why colic disappears as the baby ages.
  • Over stimulated babies also have an increased chance of developing colic.
  • When a woman smokes during pregnancy, research suggests that the baby is 60% more likely to develop colicky symptoms.
  • If a woman experiences frequent migraines during pregnancy, she is also more likely to have a baby with colic.
  • If a woman changes her diet abruptly while breastfeeding, a baby can suffer from an allergic reaction or excess gas. These things can also cause a colicky baby.

Symptoms of Colic

The only way a baby has to communicate is to cry, so a crying baby does not necessarily mean a colicky baby. A well-fed, healthy baby shows a variety of symptoms when he or she has colic.

A baby who cries around the same time almost every day may have colic. The predictable crying typically happens in the afternoon or evening time.

The crying episodes can last from a few minutes to three hours. At the end of the episode, the baby may have a bowel movement or pass gas. When a baby is suffering from colic, the cry is high-pitched and intense.

During the episode, the parent may be unable to comfort the baby. Babies are supposed to cry, but the colic crying happens without a clear reason.

Another symptom of a colicky baby is when the baby changes her posture. She may curl her legs or tighten her fists and abdominal muscles during crying fits.

As a parent, it may be difficult to distinguish between a needy baby and a colicky baby. The easiest way is to note a needy baby can be soothed with lots of holding and attention where a colicky baby can’t.

Treatment of Colic

Colic generally disappears around three or four months of age, but during each crying episode, this may be easy to forget. Doctors can prescribe medicine to help with the symptoms of colic, but some other steps should be considered first. These measures include:

  • While feeding a baby, hold him as erect as possible. This position will help reduce excess air from entering the baby’s body. Also, burping the baby frequently during feeding will contribute to reducing excessive gas.
  • The motion of sucking can be soothing, so a parent may want to give the baby a pacifier.
  • If the baby is breastfeeding, the woman should carefully watch her diet. Reducing or eliminating particular foods from a woman’s diet may decrease colicky symptoms. A different type of nipple or bottle may reduce colic in bottle feed babies.
  • A baby that is cuddled or swaddled feels protected and comfortable which reduces stress.
  • Rocking or singing to a baby can be relaxing also which may help with colicky symptoms.
  • Exposing a baby to white noise such as a fan or sounds of a waterfall can also help pacify a colicky baby.
  • If nothing above works, a parent should take a few minutes to his or herself to regroup. Let the baby cry in a safe place while the caregiver takes a breather for just a few minutes. This exercise will help reduce parent stress.

Final Thoughts

Colicky babies can be frustrating and make the parent feel helpless. A parent must remember colic only lasts for a short period of a child’s life. Try some of the recommended treatments, and the baby may not experience as many episodes which will help reduce the frustration level.

If you are still concerned and you think that your baby need help, contact your pediatrician. He will tell you any possible solution for colic symptoms which may not be listed on this article.

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