Have you got a “Colic Baby”?
If you have a baby who is often crying and unsettled, then you’ve probably received motherly advice that you have a “colic baby” or been asked if you’ve investigated the possibility of colic. Baby Hints and Tips would like to recommend that you talk to your doctor about any health concerns that you may have. The following information should not be used in place of a visit with a healthcare professional.
What does “Colic” mean?
Put simply, colic is crying and fussing that lasts for a significant amount of time. All babies cry and fuss, but those who fall into this category take that unsettled and upset time to the next level. The “colic baby” will often scrunch in on themselves, pulling their legs up as if they’re in horrendous pain. It is very difficult to make any difference or bring any comfort to the baby and you may feel like you’re making no difference at all.
The fussiness can continue around feeding and is generally worse in the later part of the day. A colic baby can cry for hours and this can be very upsetting and stressful for the family. Colic is said to affect up to 1 in 5 babies during their first few months of life. Colic generally disappears after around the four month mark.
Check for the following symptoms:
- Intense periods of crying where the child cannot be comforted
- Changed, tense posture (knees up to chest, back arched, clenched fists)
- Sleeping is irregular and interrupted by crying
- Feeding is irregular and interrupted by crying
- The baby may experience more frequent wind
Having a colic baby who cries a lot does not mean you are doing anything wrong or you are a bad parent. It’s just the way that your child is. Resist the urge to compare your baby to others you know – your child is different and unique. They are not ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ – this is simply the way that they are in their infanthood.
What causes Colic?
Physicians and researchers still do not know what causes colic. It is important to get a medical opinion about your child’s health because some problems that may be dismissed as them being “a Colic baby” could actually be indicative of something more serious.
The Raising Children Network indicates a number of potential ailments that might lead you to believe your child has colic. If your baby has one of these health issues then it may well explain the fussing and crying.
- A ear or urinary tract infection
- An allergy or intolerance to a protein or substance
- Nappy rash or a skin condition
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- An irritable nervous system
While it may be frustrating to learn that there’s no direct cause (and therefore no direct solution) of colic, this is a good list to use to eliminate possible other ailments. After all alternatives have been ruled out, a diagnosis of colic can then be given.
How can Colic be treated?
Medication is not given to babies who have been diagnosed as having colic. Any treatments should be discussed with your GP.
Some parents try the following methods to alleviate the symptoms. Again, any treatment should be discussed in advance with your doctor as these are not guarantees of curing the problem.
- Excluding cow’s milk protein from either formula or the diet of the breast-feeding mother
- Drops from products like Infacol (please adhere to chemist warnings and recommendations)
- If bottle feeding you could try a bottle designed to reduce the amount of air being swallowed
- Walking or rocking with your baby
- Playing gentle music
- Trying a drive in the car or a walk in the pram to soothe with motion
There is not a ‘fix all’ cure for a colic baby. It is simply a case of experimenting with different methods to find a solution that works for your family. Every baby is different and every case of colic will come to an end in it’s own time.
Why do so many people keep suggesting that I have a Colic baby?
It may be frustrating to keep hearing your baby being written off as a ‘colic baby’. This term has become a catch-all for any baby who fusses or cries a lot. If you are finding these constant suggestions unhelpful, ask for (good) advice or assistance. Colic generally only lasts until around the four-month mark so there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I cannot handle this crying!
Your health is important too. Constant crying is extremely stressful. It is alright to ask for help and it is alright to take a break if you can find safe, reliable help. You can leave your baby safely laying in their cot while you take a few minutes to collect yourself. It is important that you identify the signs of stress and fatigue and take positive action by reaching out if you need assistance.
Talk to your doctor or maternal health nurse for strategies on dealing with the stress of having a colic baby.
Advice from others
There are a number of old wives’ tales surrounding the treatment of colic. Before taking any of this advice onboard, ensure that you run it by a trustworthy and informed source. As colic impacts babies from a few weeks old to a few months, be very cautious about advice that involves giving different substances to your child. Please speak to a medical professional before giving your child anything new.
Share your story
Mothers’ groups (both in person and online) are a great place to go to get real time support and a sympathetic ear. Parenting can be very isolating, particularly if children are very young. Making connections with others can help lift you out of the colic baby fog. If you don’t have a great support network, you can join our virtual one online.