Infantile colic is characterized by fussing, irritability or crying in infants for 3 hours a day, for more than three days a week. Colic is seen in infants around 2 to 3 weeks old. It usually reaches its peak when the child is 2 months old and slowly starts to reduce by 3 months. Babies with colic are usually healthy and well-fed.
The cause of colic is not very clear. Some theories suggest that colic may occur due to indigestion, overfeeding, excessive anxiety, excitement, anger or fear in the house, or intolerance to certain foods or proteins found in formula. Many myths surround colic; so in order to help your child, it is important to know the facts:
- Incessant crying during colic is not to manipulate parents.
- You will not be “spoiling” a colicky baby by holding or carrying them.
- It is not clear if your colicky baby is in pain or not.
- Drinking cow’s milk by the mother does not help colic.
- Antihistamines, sedatives and motion-sickness medications are not effective or safe in treating colic.
Symptoms of colic include inconsolable, intense constant crying about the same time everyday usually during late afternoon or evening. Crying lasts for a few minutes to 3 hours per day and usually ends with passing lots of gas or stool. Crying may be associated with curling up of the legs, clenched fists and the belly may seem tense.
A thorough physical examination will be done by your physician to determine if there are possible causes for your baby’s distress, such as a blockage in your baby’s intestines. Lab tests and imaging are usually not required.
Some cases of colic get better without any treatment. Treatment depends on the cause and is generally a conservative approach, which includes:
- Probiotics are sometimes suggested to regain the digestive system’s normal flora
- Medication for gas relief
- Change your own diet if you are breastfeeding your baby change your baby’s formula, change your baby’s feeding bottle or nipples
- Holding your baby in upright position while feeding
- Calm your baby by singing or gently rocking
These methods are subjective as they work for some but not for others. You would need to find a method that your baby would respond to.