Colic is when an otherwise healthy baby cries or fusses frequently for no clear reason. It’s defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day at least 3 days per week for more than 3 weeks.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to relieve your baby’s crying. Managing colic can add stress to already tired or stressed new parents.
Colic can start a few weeks after birth. It’s generally the worst between 4 and 6 weeks of age. Babies usually grow out of colic by the time they are 3 to 4 months old.
- Crying for no obvious reason. As examples, they’re not hungry or don’t need a diaper change.
- Crying around the same time(s) each day. Colicky babies often get fussy toward the end of the day. However, crying can happen at any time.
- Clenching their fists when crying or curling up their legs.
- Crying like they’re in pain.
- Turning bright red when crying.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes colic. Researchers have looked into many possible reasons. Some of the contributing factors could include:
- Pain or discomfort from gas or indigestion.
- A digestive system that isn’t fully developed.
- Overfeeding or underfeeding.
- Sensitivity to formula or breast milk.
- Early form of childhood migraine headache.
- Emotional reaction to fear, frustration, or excitement.
How to manage colic?
In Breastfed Babies
- Keep track of what you eat and drink. Everything you consume gets passed to your baby and can affect them.
- Avoid caffeine and chocolate, which act as stimulants.
- Avoid dairy products and nuts, in case your baby is allergic to them.
- Ask your doctor if any medicines you’re taking could be causing the problem.
In Formula Fed babies
- Try a different brand. Babies can be sensitive to certain proteins in formula.
- Try feeding your baby smaller meals but more often.
- Avoid feeding your baby too much or too quickly. One bottle feeding should last about 20 minutes. If your baby eats faster, try using a nipple with a smaller hole. This will slow down their feeding.
- Try warming the formula to body temperature.
- Try feeding your baby in an upright position.
How you hold the baby can make a big difference!
- Hold your baby across your arm or lap while you massage their back.
- Hold your baby upright, if they have gas.
- Hold your baby in the evening.
- Hold your baby while walking.
- Rock your baby in your arms or by using an infant swing.
Comforting the Baby
- Colic has an emotional component to it as well. These tips help to soothe and calm the baby.
- Provide extra skin-to-skin contact. Even daddy can hold the baby close to his chest.
- Swaddle your baby. This means wrapping them in a blanket or soft sheet with some degree of tightness.
- Sing to your baby. Your voice can be very comforting to them.
- Give your baby a warm (not hot) bath or put a warm towel on their stomachs.
- Massage your baby. Use coconut oil.
- Play ragas and soothing music in the room.
- Go for a walk with your baby.
Does gripe water work?
Gripe water is an over-the-counter liquid supplement of sodium bicarbonate and herbs (like fennel, ginger, chamomile, dill, lemon balm or peppermint, depending on the formula).
Several studies have been conducted and the verdict is unanimous: there is no proof that it works to ease stomach discomfort in babies who may suffer from colic.
Some experts think gripe water might be effective at soothing fussy babies simply because it tastes sweet.
Another remedy you would have heard of are baby gas drops. These drops contain simethicone, an anti-foaming agent that breaks up bubbles in the digestive tract, which can help gas pass.
Like gripe water, gas drops aren’t proven to be effective.