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What Is a Colic Baby? Symptoms, Causes and Tips

Baby colic or infantile colic is a medical condition that affects babies at an early stage of life (most often between the sixth week and the end of the fourth month) and whose causes have not been clearly determined until the present day.

Briefly, baby colic presents periods of babies with uninterrupted crying with no specific reason such as the baby being hungry or in need of diaper change. Many parents, especially when they have the first child with this condition, are highly unprepared since they cannot distinguish the babies colic crying from an ordinary one, and often they do not seek professional help at first.

What Each Parent Needs to Know About Baby Colic?

Becoming a parent is probably one of the joyous moments in each person’s life. Many emotions come interblended when you bring your little one from the hospital – you feel happiness, excitement, a new wave of responsibility, pride, worry and you simply know your life will never be the same after living this magnificent experience. As a mother or a father, you enjoy the first months of your baby’s life, mostly neglecting your own needs in order to soothe your baby at each moment and make them comfortable.

Everything may seem like it’s on a perfect track until the moment you meet with hours of extremely loud crying when you see your baby’s legs and arms stiff, and it seems like you cannot help her.

Later, you figure out that indeed this is a baby colic and with the help of medical professionals or acquaintances, and family who have experienced this before you realize that the situation can be overpassed.

The word colic is derived from Greek language, representing the large intestine or the colon, whose role is to dehydrate what is left from food and to absorb it. In a young baby’s body, the digestive system sometimes may not function properly because of all its parts being relatively small and narrow and that’s why gas problems or colic can occur.

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Key Facts, Causes and Recognition of the Symptoms

  • The cause of colic is unknown (although some of the most described reasons are discomfort and intestinal cramping).
  • Colic is defined as episodes of crying for more than three hours, more often than three days a week for a period longer than three weeks, otherwise they are healthy babies.
  • Crying mostly occurs at same periods during the day – usually at late evening hours or night.
  • Colic affects around 10-40% babies in the world and may last relatively shorter in some cases; but mostly ends before the baby turns 6 months old.
  • During the time of this intense colic pain; the baby’s fists are clenched, the baby has a slightly red face – mostly red cheeks and is in a curving position.
  • There are no declared reasons whether the length of pregnancy affects the appearance of colic; yet on other side, mothers who have smoked during or after the pregnancy bring extra risk to the baby regarding this issue.
  • Colic can only be diagnosed by a pediatrician, because most of the babies face gas problems in the first months and with a bit of moving and doing exercises with babies limbs those gas problems can be easily resolved.
  • The first detailed medical explanation of the problem dates back to 1954.

Crying as one of the leading symptoms, cannot be clear evidence of the baby being colic, but doctors can often differentiate normal crying from the colic crying; defining it as much louder, high-pitched, even compared to screaming.

And now even with the recognition of symptoms after reading the previous part of the article; the next question that comes naturally to the parent’s mind is what to do for the child.

The answer however, is not easy give away. It will take much time for any parent to accept that the child is in pain, that this pain repeats each day all anew but the very first thing that anyone should do is to calm down and think with a clear head. In some moments, you will get exhausted after holding the baby for several hours, moving from one room to the other or taking the baby to fresh air. Eventually when the digestion flow ends, the baby will come to a relief point and you will also be able to breathe peacefully afterwards.

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The doctors may tell you many possible reasons of what caused the colic, such as: babies inability to soothe themselves due to slow development in their nervous systems, allergens from mother’s milk or milk formula, gas sensitivity as a genetic factor. They often emphasize only the second one stated as the one parents can control or try to avoid.

So, What Do You Need to Do When the Colic Treatment Goes in a Positive Direction?

One of the initial solutions that come after the doctor’s suggestions is for the baby’s mother, who is breastfeeding and tries to control the diet she follows. Avoiding spicy and sour food is a great way to start; followed by adding more natural liquids to the list, such as organic teas and fresh squeezed juices.

On the other hand; if the baby is using formula, the doctors would often recommend switching to another producer and trying to form a better schedule of feeding, not giving high quantities of milk in short periods so that the digestion will happen more easily.

The classic ways of calming the baby such as playing soft lullaby or singing softly could also make a difference and the baby would feel your presence more.

Moving the baby’s position from laying to sitting or picking her slowly above your shoulder-height could help as well with reducing the colic symptoms.

And while already in colic situations, the great stimuli to your child could be changing the environment; therefore, a short ride in a car around the neighborhood can also make a difference.

Meanwhile, it is always good to give your baby adequate massages with baby oils, and for colicky babies, you can try to apply a light hand pressure on the baby’s tummy that would serve both as bond between you two, as well as the form of alleviation. You can try to make your baby burp and if prescribed by the doctor, giving them gas drops which will reduce the gas instantly is another option if the baby is not overloaded with milk.

And One Important Tip concerning Only Parents…

We may say that unfortunately there is no template for parents on the topic of how to behave when treating the baby with colic symptoms but without fail it is always crucial to follow your baby’s facial expressions and motions to help him in proper ways.

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Even though the baby colic is noted as a medical condition and not a disease in the right term, they present a major concern for anyone who is experiencing it with a child because it bring stress to the whole family and it disturb the normal daily functioning. Parents often stay even more sleepless and are constantly worried. That’s why it is important to remind ourselves a healthy parent equals a healthy child.

One shall never forget about their own basic needs, including sleep. So, parents with colicky babies should try to look for turns in sleeping and taking care of the baby and if required to ask for daily help from close friends or older members of the family.

We should also state that babies who are diagnosed with severe colic do not show any difference in cognitive development compared to the babies who do not have the problem and that remains a problem of the past when the baby turns one.

Complications of Baby Colic

Mostly when talking about colic everyone mentions symptoms and tips and never passes on to the complications that are rather rare, but still possible.

As per Mayo Clinic and their official website added Shaken Baby Syndrome as a significant complication and wrote a next as follows:

“The stress of calming a crying baby has sometimes prompted parents to shake or otherwise harm their child. Shaking a baby can cause serious damage to the brain and death. The risk of these uncontrolled reactions is greater if parents don’t have information about soothing a crying child, education about colic and the support needed for caring for an infant with colic.”

That’s why parents should never forget that being accountable and aware of your actions could present the biggest help you can offer to your baby in pain; and if things look like they are going out of control (baby staying without air or extremely crying without even a small break) not to hesitate to pay a visit to the doctor immediately.