Having a baby is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, however it can also be the most challenging, especially when your baby is suffering from colic.
So, what is colic?
Colic is a bit of a mystery. The term applies to any healthy, well-fed infant who cries for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks. All babies cry and a fussy baby doesn’t necessarily have colic but sometimes a baby will cry for hours at a time, no matter what you do. This extreme type of crying is defined as colic. Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Colic tends to peak at around 6 weeks and then improves significantly between 3 and 6 months.
Experts believe that colic is caused by severe pain in the abdomen, caused by wind or obstruction in the intestines, and is suffered especially by babies. Others believe the baby’s nervous or digestive system may be immature.
Crying isn’t the only thing a colicky baby does. He might also:
- Arch his back
- Clench his fists
- Bend his arms and legs into his belly
- Have a bloated tummy
- Have a red, flushed face when crying
- Pass gas during the crying, often because he’s swallowed air
- Tighten his stomach muscles
Watch your baby’s body language. Many babies suffering from colic stretch their legs out or pull their feet up under their bodies, as though trying to ease a cramp. They may also arch their backs and clench their fists so tightly that they start to shake. It can be very worrying for parents and they can feel helpless.
Check your baby’s belly. If gas is causing your baby’s colic, his or her stomach may become slightly enlarged.
Listen to your baby’s stomach. Many colicky babies have notably loud rumbling stomachs.
Pay attention to the amount of gas your baby passes. If the amount seems especially large during his or her crying fits, there is a good chance your baby is suffering from colic.
Ask your doctor to rule out other possibilities. Other conditions, such as a twist in the intestine or a hernia, may create similar symptoms. If your paediatrician rules these conditions out, the doctor may feel more confident in diagnosing your baby with colic.
Colic seems to be very common. It is thought to affect one in five babies. So, if you have a baby with colic, you are not alone, even though you might feel it at times. It is most common in the first six weeks of a baby’s life and is just as common in girls as it is in boys.