Having a newborn is both exciting and challenging. It can be a real nightmare for a parent like you if your little bundle of joy doesn’t seem to want to stop crying even after attempting to offer practically anything and everything he or she might be asking for. If your baby tends to cry more than usual, it can be colic.
What is Colic?
Colic is a condition that applies to healthy and well-fed babies that frequently have crying bouts. Doctors define colic as a baby that cries for over 3 hours per day for more than 3 times a week. The condition also tends to last for 3 weeks. A full-term infant may develop colic at about the 2nd week of life, although a premature baby may show symptoms of colic much later. The good news is that the problem goes away on its own on the baby’s 3rd or 4th month of life.
What are the Causes of Colic?
To date, no one really knows what causes colic exactly. It’s for this reason why pediatricians can’t find the right way to put an end to such nightmare haunting a lot of parents. If your baby is exhibiting symptoms of colic, you may have no other choice but to put up with it until the condition disappears naturally, which is always the case.
Experts, however, are suspecting certain things that may be the culprits behind colic. They include:
- Acid reflux. It can be very discomforting for an infant when the contents of the stomach mixed with acid flows back into the esophagus and even the windpipe.
- Abdominal pain. There’s a possibility that colic may be due to the sensitivity of the baby’s GI tract to the protein in cow’s milk or the lactose content of certain formulas.
- Developing digestive system. It’s not unlikely for the baby to experience spasms in the abdominal area as his or her digestive system is in the process of developing.
- Developing nervous system. While the infant’s nervous system is developing, chances are that he or she may exhibit the symptoms of colic.
- Oversensitivity to stimulus. A baby may be colicky because of the presence of too much light, noise and others to which the little one may be overly sensitive.
- Hormonal changes. Many adults tend to be cranky because of hormonal changes, and a baby may also end up moody all the time for the very same reason.
It’s very important for a baby thought of being colicky to be seen by a pediatrician. This is necessary to rule out medical conditions that may be causing the baby to cry more than usual, such as infections, bone or muscle injury, inflammation of the brain or nervous system, and eye problems.
How is Colic Treated?
Waiting for the condition to go away on its own doesn’t mean you have to put up with your little bundle of joy’s excessive crying. There are ways to deal with colic, such as treating the probable cause with medications a pediatrician may prescribe.
For instance, anti-reflux medications may be administered by a specialist if the problem is brought about by the flowing back of the stomach’s contents to the esophagus or windpipe. Medications for gas may be prescribed if colic is caused by excessive production of it, causing abdominal distention and pain.
It’s important for a parent like you to always consult a pediatrician before attempting to give your baby anything you feel that may help with colic, be it an OTC medication or herbal supplement.
A pediatrician may also recommend for you to try a different formula for your baby. For example, the specialist may suggest to have the infant fed with soy formula instead of cow’s milk and vice versa just to check if the current formula being given may be the culprit behind the condition.
What Can You Do to Calm Your Baby?
Each time your baby is having a crying fit, you may try the following to help calm him or her:
- Play a CD containing white noise such as nature or heartbeat sounds to mask any noise that is irritating your baby. Turning on the vacuum cleaner or switching the TV or radio to static works wonders too.
- Decrease any stimulus that your baby may be oversensitive to such as too much sunlight getting into the room or excessively bright artificial lighting.
- Swaddle your little bundle of joy or allow him or her to spend more in the baby carrier which you wear on your chest. Swinging the baby may help too.
- Fill a small feeding bottle with warm water and place it over your baby’s tummy as this will help relieve abdominal cramps or spasms.
- Give your little one a warm bath to relax the muscles. Giving him or her gentle massage afterwards may work too.