It is important to remember that just because your infant cries for two to three hours a day that does not mean that they have colic. Babies that have colic cry nonstop for a period of three hours, normal infants cry two to three hours each day, but it is spread out throughout the day.
It can be hard to tell if your baby has colic or if it is just normal crying, since all babies must cry to explain their needs to you. Here is a list of symptoms that you can look at to help determine if your baby is suffering from colic or if their crying is from something else.
- Crying or fussing begins suddenly, most often it occurs right after a feeding
- The cry is loud and continuous, it can last anywhere from one to four hours
- Face becomes red or flushed
- Belly can be distended or prominent
- The legs alternate between flexed and extended straight out
- Hands are often clenched
- Feet are cold to the touch
Baby Colic Causes
One in four babies suffers from colic; however, some babies are more prone to suffer from colic than others are. It is believed that if one or both of the parents suffered from colic as an infant that their infant is at a higher risk of developing colic. Colic does not usually show up until a baby is about two to three weeks old. Colic will hit its peak around 2 months, and is usually gone by the time your baby is 3 ½ to 4 months old. Although a lot of research has been done on colic, it has not been discovered what causes colic. Researchers have noted that colic is more likely to begin in the late afternoon or early evening, but it can occur at any time of day or night. While the research done has not been able to discern an actual cause for colic, it has been able to show that certain factors worsen the symptoms of colic.
Here is a look at the factors that can worsen the colic symptoms in babies.
- Overfeeding, this is usually in a useless attempt to help stop the crying
- Feeding your infant certain foods, at the point that they have colic they should only be receiving breast milk or formula. Foods that worsen the symptoms are foods that are high in sugar content, such as undiluted juices. These foods can increase the amount of gas in the intestine, which makes the situation worse. Your baby's digestive system at this age is not ready for anything but breast milk and formula.
- Presence of excessive anger, anxiety, fear, or excitement in the household, babies often pick up on your moods and can only express themselves by crying.
If your infant suffers from colic you might be wondering what you can do to help deal with the colic episodes. When dealing with an infant that suffers from colic you can end up feeling like you cannot do anything right because all your baby seems to do is cry. The one thing that you need to remember is that colic usually occurs in healthy and active babies, who are great eaters and grow really well. Babies that are sickly, do not eat very well, and are unhealthy or even babies who have underlying problems will be cranky too, but these infants will usually end up being that way most of the time, there is no outgrowing it. In addition, to outgrowing colic babies that have colic have predictable episodes, meaning that they occur around the same time each day, if not at the exact same time each day, plus they end at the same time.
Deal with your Baby's Colic
Here are some things that you can try doing to help deal with your baby's colic episodes.
- If you are breastfeeding you should avoid milk products, you do not need to drink milk to produce milk. You should also avoid caffeine, onions, cabbage, beans, broccoli, and other gas producing or irritating foods.
- If you are giving your baby any kind of juice, which is not recommended for babies younger than six months, make sure that the juice is diluted. Alternatively, you can offer them just plain water. Breastfeed and formula fed babies do not need water or juice before six months of age.
- If you are giving your baby formula, try a low-allergy formula, such as Nutramigen, Alimentum, or Pregestamil. While these formulas are more expensive than the other formula it is worth the expense for one week to see if the formula is contributing to the colic.
- If things get to be too much for you try to take a break. You can do this an hour before the episode even starts or an hour before things get too much for you. You will learn to recognize the signs that the anxiety, fear, and tension is getting to be too much. Try to find somebody else to watch the baby and then leave the house; this will help you to keep a positive attitude.
- Walk the baby in a front-pouch style carrier. This position will help keep the pressure off your baby's belly because their legs will be drawn up.
- You can also try physical stimulation. There has been no evidence to prove that this will work, but many parents swear by it. Rhythmic, steady movements can soothe some babies, for example rocking gently or soothing sounds. Some babies also like to hear the vacuum running, or the cloths dryer turned on.
- Try wrapping your baby firmly in a comfortable blanket this is also called swaddling.
- You can also try using medications if it is approved by your doctor. If your doctor does not approve their use, do not try medications like simethicone or other homeopathic treatments. The reason for this is that they have not been proven effective in the treatment of colic. Some medications can be worse for your baby then dealing with colic, such as Levsin, an antispasmodic medication that is used in adults to treat various intestinal ailments. It has also been shown to have serious side effects in young infants.
- Probiotics, which are dietary supplements that contain live bacteria or yeast to help aid in digestion, can often be given to babies with colic. They have also shown some promising results. Like all medication, this should be discussed with your doctor before you start using it.
While there are no tests that can be done to determine if your baby has colic it is still important to see a doctor if you suspect that your baby has colic. The reason for this is that your doctor is going to need to exclude any other causes that can make a baby suddenly start screaming for no apparent reason. The conditions that your doctor will need to rule out are intestinal blockage or obstruction, abdominal infection, a hernia, a scratch of the baby's eye an ear infection, a bladder infection, and others. Once your baby has been given a clean bill of health, your doctor will be able to help you immensely.
The best thing that you can have when dealing with a colicky baby is a supportive doctor. The reason for this is that your doctor can help reassure you that your baby will get over the colic. Plus they will let you know that if the symptoms ever suddenly change that they will look over your baby again to determine if something else is wrong or if it still just colic. Your doctor can also give you ideas and suggestions on what you can do to treat your colicky baby, such as over-the-counter gas drops or a probiotic. Your doctor can also help you sort out all of the advice that you have been given by other concerned friends or family. It seems like every well-meaning relative has their own cure for colic, and you should never try one that involves medications or herbs without first talking to your doctor.
Just remember that after three or four months the colic will have resolved itself, so there is an end in sight. Once the colic is over with you will be left with a happy and healthy baby that you dreamed about because there are no long-term side effects associated with colic.