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What Is Colic?

Colic is the medical term that is used to label inconsolable crying in infants. Babies with colic will cry at least three hours every day. Bouts of crying usually occur in the late afternoon or evening. Colic usually arises when an infant is around three weeks of age. However, “newborn colic” can occur as early as a week after birth.


What Causes Colic?

The exact cause of colic is unknown.

General theories about colic are that it may be caused by an immature digestive tract, or gas. Another theory is that babies may have an immature nervous system and the crying could be a result of over stimulation, or sensitivity to sounds and light.

Symptoms of Colic

The most common symptom of colic is a baby that is generally inconsolable. Despite repeated attempts of comforting, nothing appeases the crying. Babies with colic also appear to be in a lot of pain. The babies will either draw their legs up or stiffen them out.

Other symptoms of colic are:

  • A baby’s face may become flushed, and he or she may also have whiteness around their mouth.
  • A baby’s abdomen may feel tight or swollen to the touch.
  • Babies with colic will cry for at least three hours, and these bouts can continue until approximately three months of age. Many parents report that their baby’s crying is almost like clock work, occurring at a specific time in the afternoon or evening.

What You Can Do about Colic

If your baby appears to have colic, you should first have him or her seen by their pediatrician. The pediatrician can rule out a medical problem, and also give advice.

Tips to soothe your baby:

  • Thoroughly burp the baby during and after feedings.
  • Burp the baby during crying bouts to relieve any build up of any gas brought on by the crying.
  • Try swaddling the baby. Most babies respond to this and feel secure.
  • Lay the baby across your lap so pressure is applied to his or her stomach.
  • Dim the lights and avoid over stimulation.
  • Hold the baby as much as possible.
  • Have a form of “white noise” in the background.
  • Administer infant gas drops.

The most important thing to remember if your baby has colic is to take care of yourself. Ask for help and take breaks. Babies can sense if their care giver is nervous or frustrated. Babies usually outgrow colic by twelve weeks.

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