If your baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, he or she may have colic. Colic is not caused by another medical problem. Many babies go through a period of melancholy.
If you have a colicky baby, you are not alone. One in 5 babies cries so much that people understand that they have colic problems. They usually begin when babies are about 3 weeks old and get worse when they are 4 to 6 weeks old. Most of the time, colicky babies begin to get better after 6 weeks of age and improve completely when they are 12 weeks old.
Signs and symptoms
Colic usually starts at about the same time every day. Colicky babies are usually fussier at the beginning of the night.
Symptoms of colic often begin suddenly. The baby’s hands may form a fist. The legs may shrink and the belly may look swollen. Crying can last from minutes to hours and often calms down when the baby is tired.
Even though colicky babies may seem to have stomach pain, they eat well and gain weight normally.
Possible causes of colic
Causes of colic may include any of the following:
- Excessive feeding
- The baby is likely not capable of tolerating some foods or proteins in breast milk
- Sensitivity to some certain stimuli
- Emotions e.g. fear, frustration, or even excitement
See the health care provider of your baby
The caregiver of your baby can often diagnose colic by asking about your baby’s medical history, symptoms, and how long he or she cries. The care provider will perform a physical exam and may do some tests to examine the baby.
The healthcare provider should make sure your baby does not have other health problems, such as reflux, hernia, or intussusception.
Heat helps relieve colic
You can reduce the intensity of colic by applying a little heat to your baby’s skin. Putting your baby in a warm water bag or covering him or her with a pre-warmed blanket can help relieve crying.
To relieve colic, skin-to-skin contact is still the best solution. In this way, the colicky baby feels, in addition to the warmth, the proximity of his mother, all of which helps to give him a feeling of protection that will help him or her calm down.
Effects of massage on colicky babies
Many parents try to massage the baby’s abdomen. You can either do it with your own hand or by flexing the baby’s thighs on your tummy.
However, the colicky baby will most likely continue to cry even after the massage. Others prefer to massage the whole body, rubbing their hands with moisturizer or vegetable oil.
What really helps the child is the contact even if he or she doesn’t calm down.
Avoiding triggers in the baby
Foods that pass through breast milk to your baby can trigger colic. If your baby has colic and you are breastfeeding, avoid eating or drinking the following foods for a few weeks to see if it helps.
Stimulants such as caffeine and chocolate
Dairy products and nuts
Your baby may have allergies to these foods.
Some nursing mothers avoid broccoli, cabbage, beans, and other gas-producing foods; however, research has not shown that these foods can have a negative effect on their baby.
Other possible triggers include
Medicines that are passed through breast milk. If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the medicines you take.
Some babies are sensitive to the proteins in this milk. Talk to your baby’s doctor about switching to other formulas to see if it helps.
Overfeeding or feeding the baby too quickly
Bottle-feeding should take about 20 minutes. If your baby is eating faster, use a pacifier with a smaller hole.
Comfort the baby
What is comforting your baby may not comfort another baby, but try as much as possible different techniques and see what works even if it only helps a little.
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If you are breastfeeding:
Allow your baby to finish feeding on the first breast before offering the other. The milk at the end of the emptying of each breast, called the last milk, is much richer and sometimes more soothing.
If your baby still seems uncomfortable or is overeating, offer only one breast as often as you want for 2 to 3 hours. This will give your baby more milk at the end.
Sometimes it can be really hard to stop your baby from crying. These are techniques you may want to try:
Wrap your baby up
Wrap him or her comfortably in a blanket.
Hold your baby
Carrying your baby more can help him or her to be less fussy at night. This won’t spoil your baby. Try a baby carrier that is used on the body to hold your baby close to you.
Gently rock your baby
When babies cry, they swallow air. So they have more gas and more stomach pain, which makes them cry more. So babies are in a cycle that’s hard to break. Try a baby swing if your baby is at least 3 weeks old.
Colic appears mostly by the third week of life, although some babies have them from the first few days. They are characterized by the presence of abdominal pain; the baby’s legs shrink, his face reddens, and he cries differently than when he or she has an appetite or feels lonely. The crying does not stop even if you hold him in your arms, which generates a feeling of anguish in the family environment. In any case, it is a benign and normal disorder that tends to go away on its own by the end of the third month.
Avoid taking stimulants such as caffeine and chocolate. If possible, try to remove dairy products and nuts from your diet for a while, as they can cause allergic reactions in your baby. In addition, they say breastfeeding mothers should avoid broccoli, lettuce, beans and other gas-producing foods. However, there is little evidence that these foods are a trigger for colic in infants. On the other hand, consult your pediatrician and your doctor about the medication you are taking to identify the chemical compound in the drugs and to assess whether it can pass into your baby’s breast milk.