A colicky baby is still somewhat of a mystery and it is not always understood what causes it. Approximately 40% of infants are estimated to have colic during their early life. It is important to rule out all other possible health problems that could be contributing to their crying.
What Is Colic?
Colic is defined as crying for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for at least three weeks. Generally, it starts between the first and second month of your child’s life and will resolve on its own between months three and four. It is important to follow up with your pediatrician to ensure there are no complicating medical issues.
Babies with colic eat well and besides crying, are healthy and growing well. They may occasionally spit up, as all babies do, but their weight will continue to increase.
The Causes of Colic
The exact cause of colic is unknown; however, there are several thoughts as to possible causes. At one point, it was suggested that cow’s milk intolerance caused colic, although that is rarely thought to be the case now because breastfed babies also get colic. Some breastfeeding women have reported decreased colic in their babies as they change their diets to cut out caffeine, dairy, and wheat products.
Other thoughts have suggested that babies have colic because of gas. This is also difficult to confirm because they may have gas due to swallowing too much air while crying. Similarly, some think that colic is undiagnosed gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). During infancy, there is a large amount of growth in a short period and it is possible that esophageal spasms contribute to colic. These esophageal spasms could also worsen GERD.
The Symptoms of Colic
Symptoms of colic include those mentioned above. Infants, generally between four and six weeks, cry for an unknown reason and it resolves within two to three months. This crying occurs for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for at least three weeks.
The Treatment of Colic
Treating colic is unique to each infant and many techniques might need to be attempted to find the best one that works for you and your child. Try sitting your baby further upright as you feed him and burp more often during feedings. You can also put your baby on his or her belly on your lap and rub their back. This can help prevent any gas or GERD. Try walking with your baby or putting your baby in a swing, to help soothe them and give a calming effect. It is important to remember that it can sometimes take multiple techniques and always be patient. When in doubt, always approach a health care provider for advice.
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