Baby Colic

Is your baby crying non-stop? Here’s how to tell if his or her cries are a sign of colic, a common and largely unexplained condition that usually starts a few weeks after birth.

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What is Colic?

​Your newborn has been crying incessantly for weeks now, sometimes wailing for more than three hours at a time, and nothing you do seems to be able to soothe his tears. 

This non-stop crying could actually be a sign of colic, a condition characterised by non-stop crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, over more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. The crying usually begins suddenly and for no clear reason. 

Colic usually starts a few weeks after birth and often improves by the time your baby is three months old. The condition is resolved in 90 percent of babies by the time they are nine months old.

Symptoms of Baby Colic

Some common symptoms of colic include:
Regular crying episodes: a baby with colic often cries about the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or evening
Intense crying: colic-related crying is often intense and extremely difficult to pacify 
Posture changes: newborns with colic often curl up their legs, clench their fists and stiffen their abdominal muscles during colic episodes
Bowel movements: babies with colic may experience bowel movements or pass gas near the end of a colic episode

Causes of Baby Colic

The causes of colic in babies are not exactly clear. Some possible causes include allergies, lactose intolerance, an immature digestive system and differences in the way a baby is fed or comforted.

Diagnosing Baby Colic

You may need to seek medical advice if your baby cries persistently and is not feeding and sleeping well or behaving normally.

Take note of the number of times and schedules when your baby cries and record his or her sleeping and eating patterns. Share these notes with the doctor who will likely conduct a physical examination to identify any possible causes for your baby's distress such as an intestinal obstruction. Diagnostic tests are usually not required.

Treatment of Baby Colic

Colic usually resolves on its own, often by the time your baby is three months old. Prescription medications such as simethicone have not shown to be very useful for colic. It has been suggested that treatment with probiotics, which help maintain the natural balance of "good" bacteria in the digestive tract, can soothe colic. However, more research is needed to determine the beneficial effects of probiotics on colic.

Tips to Soothe a Colicky Baby

Give your baby frequent small feeds and burp him or her after
Offer a pacifier as sucking is a soothing activity for babies and may calm them 
Hold your baby close to you as cuddling may help some babies to quieten and calm down
Keep your baby in motion by gently rocking him in your arms or in an infant swing. Alternatively, you may lay your baby tummy down on your knees and then sway your knees slowly or take a walk with your baby
Sing to your baby to soothe him

Support for Mothers

These suggestions may help you cope with the stress of soothing your newborn baby’s crying:
​Take a break from caregiving by requesting for help from your spouse or family
Confide in your spouse, partner or friend
Remember that colic is temporary and improves as your baby grows older

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