Most of us have heard of the word, ‘colic’ or the phrase, ‘a colicky baby’, but what does that actually mean?
Well, colic is a condition that affects babies, generally between the ages of 2 and 16 weeks. Long story short, it makes them cry… a lot. Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is Colic?
Essentially colic is a condition where a baby will cry regularly and without clear explanation for long periods of time. Now, all babies cry and crying is a normal part of development, but when babies cry a lot, or they cry for long periods of time, it’s known as colic.
Symptoms of Colic
Extended periods of crying isn’t really much to go on, so as a parent, it pays to know some of the other symptoms that are associated with colic. Often colic begins around the first two to four weeks of life, peaking a few weeks later. The baby can be very content during the day, only to be quite colicky in the evening. Some other symptoms of colic include:
- Grimacing and frowning
- Redness in the face
- Long, loud fits of screaming
- Audible stomach rumblings
- Pulling up of the legs, suggesting stomach pain
- Difficulty settling
- Crying for three hours or more
Cause Of Colic
Unfortunately, we still don’t know all the time what is the cause of colic. Some believe that it might be caused by a medical condition being suffered by the baby, others think that parents might have something to do with it. Remember, colic itself isn’t a ‘condition’, it’s just a word used when babies won’t settle, cry extensively, or are difficult to calm.
Colic might be caused by feeding techniques, emotional issues in the primary caregiver, a child’s challenging temperament, gastrointestinal problems, infections, hernias, allergies, nappy rash and nerves. Investigate these issues with your GP if your child is experiencing colic, and talk to them about what they think might be behind the crying.
Dealing With A Crying Baby
At the moment, the consensus on treating colic is that medications aren’t that helpful. Colic gets better on its own, often quite suddenly and regardless of whether medications are used. Of course, you should still see a doctor just to make sure there aren’t any major issues, but for colic, there’s often nothing to be done but wait it out. That being said, a crying baby can be difficult to deal with, so if you’re having problems with a colicky infant, here are a few things to try.
1. Wrap Them
Babies are often comforted by the feeling of being confined and wrapped, particularly in the early weeks of their life. Swaddles can have a marked effect, but make sure they are not too tightly wrapped.
When babies are distressed, sucking can often be used to soothe them. If they don’t need to feed, a dummy is a good alternative to soothe their crying.
Both rocking and patting can help to calm a crying baby, although sometimes movement is enough. Many parents choose to drive in the car, walk with a pram, or carry their baby in a sling to calm them.
4. Soft Rhythms
Some quiet music or other noise, like you singing or whispering softly, can often soothe a child, particularly when the music has a clear beat or rhythm.