Colic in Babies: Everything You Need to Know

Colic in Babies
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Crying is one of the apparent ways babies use in expressing themselves, and parents are biologically programmed to respond to these needs. However, for infants with colic, the crying starts unexpectedly with no logical explanation and has no obvious solution. Colic in babies is not a diagnosis or illness but a mixture of confusing behaviors.

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It’s just an in-depth term used for excessive whimpering in healthy babies. The problem is that there’s no cure for it besides the expiration of time. It’s expected to occur in about one in every five infants.

These fussy times can occur for hours at a time, occasionally late into the night. The worst part is that no matter what you do or try, there may not be any changes to the baby’s condition. It’s very challenging to comfort a colicky baby. It only increases your worry, frustration, and exhaustion.

Doctors often recognize colic in babies based on the three rules that include crying up to:

  • At least three hours per day
  • At least three days a week
  • At least three weeks in succession

When does colic in babies begin and stop?

The good news is that colic in babies doesn’t remain forever. Most colic starts when the baby is around 2 to 3 weeks old (starts later in premature babies), increases for about six weeks, and then naturally begins to subside at 10 to 12 weeks.

At three months (generally a little later in preterm babies), most colicky newborns appear to be miraculously soothed. The colic may end abruptly or stop slowly, with some good days as well as some bad days, until they are all better. For the time being, a little understanding and enough patience will assist you in surviving until the storm eases.

Signs of colic in babies

How do you know if your baby has colic? In conjunction with the three rules stated above, here are a few additional colic symptoms:

  • Crying commonly starts at the exact time each day (often late in the afternoon or early evening, although it can change)
  • Crying tends to happen for no reason (not as a result of the baby having a filthy diaper or is tired or hungry)
  • The infants might pull up his legs, grit their fists, and typically move their legs and arms sporadically
  • Newborns may often close their eyes or open them relatively wide, fold his brow, even hold their breath for a moment
  • Bowel movement might increase, and they could pass gas or spit-up
  • The crying disrupts consuming and napping. It isn’t uncommon for infants to eagerly crave a nipple only to reject it once sucking has commenced, or fall asleep for a few minutes only to wake up whimpering

What is the dissimilarity between usual and colic crying?

There is no evident description of what colic is or how it varies from other types of crying. Doctors generally accept that colic cry is louder, harsher, and more pitched than normal crying. Babies that have colic appear inconsolable and are inclined to whine for at a minimum of three hours per day. Typically, colic periods persist every day, although some newborns take a few nights off.

What induces colic in babies?

Colic in Babies
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Though the actual cause of colic is unknown, specialists know it’s not the result of genetics or anything that occurred during childbirth and pregnancy. Nor is it related to the parenting skills, or the absence of them, just in case you’re wondering.

Some general hypotheses for colic crying may include the following:

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Overstimulated senses

Babies possess a hardwired means of tuning out sensations and noises around them, which enables them to nap and eat without being annoyed by their surroundings. Towards the end of the initial month, this mechanism vanishes, leaving the newborns more susceptible to the stimuli in the environment.

Some babies become stressed-out, usually at the end of the day, because of many new sensations charging at them.  This stress is released by throwing tantrums and crying.  Colic expires when the baby discovers a better way to relieve themselves off from some environmental stimuli hence, prevents a sensory overload.

A developing digestive system

Digesting food is a massive task for an infant’s new gastrointestinal system. Consequently, food may pass through too soon and not digest fully, causing discomfort from gas in the intestines.

Infant acid reflux

Studies have shown that babies’ gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can activate colic incidents. GERD  can be triggered by an immature lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle prevents the acid in the stomach from flowing back up into the mouth, which can infuriate the esophagus.

Indications include bad eating, regular puking, and crankiness while feeding or after meals. Fortunately, most infants outgrow GERD by the age of one (and colic often stops long before then).

Diet allergies or sensitivity

Few specialists think that colic is the effect of being lactose intolerant. This could include an allergy to milk in the supplements that babies consume. In rare cases, colic may be the result of certain foods in the mother’s diet that is passed through breastfeeding. Either way, this sensitivity can induce stomach aches that might set off colic in babies.

Exposure to smoke from tobacco

Several types of research have demonstrated that mothers who smoke during or after gestation are more inclined to give birth to babies with colic. This also goes for secondhand smoke that can considerably have the same effect. For many important health reasons, avoid exposing your baby to smoke.

Treatments for colic in babies

In addition to tiredness and frustration, you might suffer a sense of shame as your attempt to calm your crying baby are in vain. While remaining calm is easier said than done, these comforting techniques could assist in easing the pressure until colic passes.

Give each of these procedures a try before switching to another, and don’t try too many techniques at the same time. This would help to avoid stressing the baby and reduce the crying you’re attempting to stop.

If you suspect it is overstimulation

  • Respond: Crying is the only way babies know how to communicate their needs. Notwithstanding, it is also their only means of utilizing any control over a massive and inexplicable new environment. Reaching out to your babies when they cry is a natural response, and this may help to pacify your child.
  • Exercise warmth: Reduce visitors and expose your infant to calming experiences in stimulating surroundings, especially in the late afternoon or early evening. Learn to watch how your baby reacts to distinct stimuli and avoid any that may be a stressor to your baby.
  • Build peace: Attempting to make the surroundings peaceful might help the baby relax. Reduce the lights, sing in calming tones, and keep other disturbances or distractions to a minimum.

If you suspect problems relating to digestion

Apply mild pressure to your infant’s belly. Some colicky newborns find solace when pressure is put on their abdomen. The influence of touch from mother to child can be incredibly calming for both of them. Mothers can place their babies face-down on their lap or erect with their belly against their shoulders.

They can also try the “colic carry,” where the child is placed face-down with their stomach resting on their mothers’ arm. Nursing mothers can then gently caress their baby’s back.

  • Try expelling gas from your baby: If your infant’s fussiness is as a result of gas, occasionally burping the baby will aid in relieving the pain.
  • Administer about anti-gas drops: Researches suggest that controlling gas in babies with colic might lessen the distress. So consult your pediatrician about using gas drops prepared with simethicone, which functions by dispersing gas bubbles. Anti-gas drops are commonly designed to soothe your baby’s symptoms. Although studies are yet to reveal that this procedure helps with colic, your specialist may feel it’s worth a try.
  • Consider using probiotics: Probiotic drops could potentially prevent the whimper in some colicky infants, possibly because they relieve tummy troubles. Probiotic bacteria generally mature in the digestive tract and help improve intestinal health. Even though analysis is minimal, it helps to have a talk with your pediatrician to know if you should give it a try.
  • Watch what you eat: if you’re breastfeeding, chat with your doctor about what you should try eliminating from your diet. Especially things that can induce belly troubles for your baby, such as acidic citrus fruits, gas-causing veggies, or allergenic foods, that may include dairy, wheat, egg, peanuts, and fish.  You can also inquire about changing formulas if necessary.

Surveys have established that offering colicky babies hypoallergenic whey-hydrolyzed formula reduces colic symptoms in some newborns. Be sure to get your doctor’s permission before making the switch.

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Also, avoid casein-hydrolyzed formula or partly hydrolyzed procedures as treatments for colic, particularly when there isn’t enough proof that they work.

Keep in mind that you should never give your baby any treatment, herbal or otherwise, without speaking with your doctor.

Gripe water

Many parents claim that gripe water is a natural colic treatment made of plants and sodium bicarbonate. However, there have been no credible analyses that have demonstrated its effectiveness in lessening colic signs.

Just because something is natural doesn’t make it safe, so always inquire from your doctor before giving your baby any herbal treatments.

Additional calming solutions for colic in babies

  • Get intimate: Not only does cuddling gives babies a sense of warmth and security, but it may as well assist you to tune in better to their needs. Are you concerned that holding your infant too much could make them clingy or spoilt? Put those fear aside. You can’t spoil a newborn, so if snuggling seems to calm them, kindly cuddle away.
  • Swaddle: Put a sheet in the dryer, and while it’s still warm, wrap it comfortably around your baby. The combination of tenderness and the feeling of safety may help wipe the baby’s tears.
  • Make white sounds: The humming of the vacuum cleaner can be soothing to babies. Research has shown that it can be likened to the sound they hear while in the womb. You could invest in a white-noise device.
  • Play calming music: A screaming baby might also react to the singing of a soft playing classical music or a lullaby. Other newborns appreciate the whir of a fan or the sound of nature. You can also make the “shh” or “ahh” sounds to help your little one remain relaxed.
  • Get in motion: Attempt rocking or swinging your babies. Infants find soft movement comforting since it feels like what they underwent in the womb.
  • Make use of a pacifier: Few colicky infants seem to want to eat every time, and that may be because sucking is calming, not because they are hungry. If your baby appears insatiable all the time and sufficient feedings don’t seem to satisfy them, a pacifier could help. Visit your doctors if you’re not confident that your baby is getting enough to eat.
  • Take a stroll: Sometimes, a change to an outside setting can transform a baby’s mood. Movement can assist, so it would help if you take your child for a walk in the stroller or carrier. You can also strap your baby into the car seat for a drive. Turn around and head home if the crying persists in the car. Otherwise, it might draw your attention away from the road.

Tips on how to cope with colic

Colic in Babies
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Although it can safely be asserted that even hours of daily outcry doesn’t appear to harm a baby, it can affect the parents. Hearing an infant’s screams can be worrisome and heartbreaking.

To deal with colic in babies that won’t stop crying, it is best to utilize the following methods:

  • Break it up: A new pair of arms sometimes prompts silence in a crying baby. If there are two parents at home when the baby is crying, ensure that the colic duty is divided uniformly between you and your partner. You both could do a night on, a night off, or whatever arrangement that works best for you.
  • Find time to relax: It’s essential to respond to the cry of a child as it is the only way a baby can communicate. However, every once in a while, take a 10 – 15 minutes rest. It might assist both of you to get through this demanding stage of infancy.
  • Space out a little: Take your mind off by using noise-canceling headphones or listen to songs to reduce the impact of your baby’s cries. Don’t space out so much to the extent that you can’t hear your baby’s cry.
     Talk to someone: You can do a little sobbing yourself on an accommodating shoulder. You can express yourself to your spouse, a family member, a friend, or the pediatrician. The feeling that you’re not lonely in the world of comfortless babies can make a difference.
  • Get assistance: If you feel you can’t handle any more of the stress, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It could be from your partner, friend, mother, or babysitter. You can talk to your doctor as well if you’ve been having trouble coping with your child. Parental counseling has not only helped parents feel better, but it has also shown to minimize crying in babies.

When is it the right time to call your doctor about colic in babies?

While it’s possible that your baby’s daily screaming bouts are as a result of colic, you should visit a pediatrician if the crying becomes excessive. The doctor can examine your child to eliminate any other probable factors of unnecessary crying.

Explaining the crying of the child, including its duration, intensity, and any concurrent symptoms will also assist the doctor in ruling out any necessary medical conditions that may include reflux, milk allergy, or an infection that might be causing the baby to cry.

Remember that nothing lasts forever, no matter how vexing. As stated earlier, colic in babies is only a phase that lasts for a short time. So, it is imperative that you exercise patience and show your baby all the love and care they deserve.

References;

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  • Colic in Babies: Signs, Causes and Tips for Parents – Whattoexpect
Colic in Babies
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Peter Oluwafemi
Oluwafemi Peter is a content creator who has an interest in music, tech, sports and people. He resides in Ogun state, Nigeria.
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