8 Surprising Facts About Baby Colic
- When Crying Might Be ColicIf your baby cries more than 3 hours per day at least 3 days a week, she might have colic.
All babies cry, but babies who have colic typically cry more frequently. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, colic often begins around 3 weeks of age and peaks between 4 to 6 weeks. By 3 to 4 months of age, colic symptoms usually disappear. However, colic can last as long as a year.
Learn more about baby colic causes and treatments, including tips and techniques you can use to survive long hours of crying.
- 1. No one knows what causes colic.Healthcare providers and parents have a lot of theories about what causes colic, but no one really understands what’s going on in the bodies of colicky babies. Factors that may contribute to the development of colic include hunger or overfeeding, an immature digestive system, acid reflux (GERD), gas pain, imbalance of gut bacteria, food allergies or intolerances, and stress and anxiety.
Colic might even be an early form of childhood migraine. One study of 154 mother/baby pairs found that 29% of infants of moms with migraines had colic, compared to just 11% of infants whose mothers didn’t have a history of migraine.
- 2. Colic doesn’t affect babies’ growth.Because babies who have colic often look (and act) like they have tummy pain, many parents assume that there’s something wrong with their baby’s digestive system. But even though colicky babies appear uncomfortable and may exhibit clenched fists, pulled up legs and a tense abdomen, most are physically healthy and growing well. In fact, normal growth and development is typical for babies with colic.
- 3. Colic is usually worse in the evenings.For some unknown reason, colic symptoms usually occur at the same time every day and usually, in the evening. Unfortunately, these evening cryfests are tough on the whole family. Parents who work during the day may find it particularly difficult to develop a bond with a baby who seems to cry no matter what. And if there are older children in the home, a colicky baby may make it difficult for parents to give other children the attention they desire.
- 4. It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you think your baby has colic.In most cases, there’s nothing physically wrong with a baby who has colic. However, because a variety of medical conditions can cause similar symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your child’s healthcare provider if you notice colic symptoms. Your provider will want to check your baby’s growth and development and conduct a physical exam to rule out a medical problem, such as a hernia or GERD. If your baby has GERD, your doctor may recommend medication, such as Omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC, OmePPi OTC), to help treat colic while the digestive system matures.
- 5. Baby colic drops aren’t very effective.You can buy simethicone gas drops over the counter; these products are often marketed as “colic drops.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says that simethicone drops are safe for babies but notes that scientific studies have shown that the drops are not very effective.
You may have better luck with home remedies. Try swaddling and holding your baby tight. Or, go for a walk or car ride. You can also try placing a warm towel on your baby’s tummy.
- 6. Some babies with colic seem sensitive to certain foods.According to the National Library of Medicine, foods that are passed through breast milk may trigger colic in nursing infants. So, if you’re breastfeeding, you might want to try eliminating certain foods from your diet, one at a time, to see if your baby’s symptoms improve. Some mothers note improvement after they eliminate caffeine, dairy, soy or egg.
If you’re formula feeding, ask your doctor about switching to another formula.
- 7. International researchers are studying probiotics as a colic treatment.Healthcare providers and researchers want to understand colic, clinical studies are ongoing. Because researchers suspect that an imbalance of gut bacteria may be responsible for colic, at least in some infants, one treatment they’re testing is probiotic supplementation.
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help maintain the health of the digestive system. At least one study shows that colicky babies who received probiotic treatment experienced decreased crying.
- 8. Colic increases the risk of postpartum depression.Dealing with a crying baby is very stressful! And because babies with colic seem almost inconsolable at times, it’s easy for parents to feel incompetent, or to blame themselves for their baby’s distress. It’s completely and totally normal to feel exhausted and overwhelmed by your baby’s crying. However, if you begin to have feelings of hopelessness or rage, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, seek help immediately.
8 Surprising Facts About Baby Colic