If there is one thing all new parents have in common, it is sleep deprivation. The first three months of a newborn's life are often accompanied by sporadic and often lengthy crying jags.
When a healthy baby cries for over three hours in a single day and repeats the behavior over three days a week, a doctor may explain that your little one has colic. The diagnosis may sound scary to new parents, but it is essentially a reference to a typical behavior in newborns and one that researchers still don't entirely understand.
A baby with colic will eventually settle, and the condition will resolve. Still, parents must understand the condition and prepare themselves for the potential consequences, primarily a lack of sleep.
What Is Colic?
Colic refers to random bouts of intense crying from around three weeks of age to three or four months. Your little one does not have a medical condition, and they are not in any real danger. That said, the crying, which occurs mainly at night for three or more hours, is distressing for parents and possibly stressful for the baby.
Despite the uncomfortableness of the condition, it occurs in about 40% of infants, making it a relatively common condition. Still, not every child experiences colic; it is vital to recognize when your child has it or might be suffering from something more serious.
What Causes Infant Colic?
Truthfully, no one knows the cause of a colic baby. Much of the research is speculative or anecdotal. Some medical professionals believe the crying stems from neurological immaturity or an acclimation to the outside world. Parents must remember that the first months of a child's life are within a secure womb; the expanse and loneliness of an external environment can seem overwhelming to such a fragile being.
Some professionals believe that colic may stem from gastric distress, such as acid reflux, gas, indigestion, or a food allergy; however, research is inconclusive. Some little ones are more sensitive than others in their first few months outside the womb.
Symptoms of Infant Colic
Colic is a unique form of crying and is only diagnosed in healthy little ones, meaning they are growing and eating as expected. Most often, the crying occurs during the same time of day, typically at night or early evening.
A colic spell is unsettling and accompanies a specific set of symptoms. The symptoms may include:
- High-pitched screaming or crying
- Red face or paleness around the mouth
- Legs in, stiff arms, clenched fists, and arched back
Remember, a colicky baby is still a healthy baby. If crying spells accompany symptoms like loose stools, vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, or a fever of 100.4°F or more, contact a doctor immediately.
Remedies for Colic for Your Baby
You can soothe your baby when they experience colic. Most parents choose to carry their little ones. Being physically close is soothing, but holding your little one more during the day is best, which may reduce evening spells. You can also lay with your little one by placing them on their tummy across your lap or stomach. Rub your baby's back to help soothe them, relieving gas.
You might consider switching formula or thickening it with baby cereal if you think colic stems from indigestion. Also, try holding your little one upright after feedings.
Finally, you can give your baby gripe water, which helps to relieve gas. If you try gripe water, choose a transparent brand like Wellements Organic Gripe Water to ensure your little one's diet remains free of unnecessary preservatives, dyes, and parabens.
Colic occurs in many babies, and many people still don't know about the condition. As a parent, all you can do is try and soothe your little one as best you can.