It is normal for babies to cry, but if this crying is persistent and intense, it may be a sign of a more serious problem such as colic. If you are also facing this problem, stay with us in this article to get the necessary information about colic and its treatment methods in babies.
What is infant colic?
Infant colic is the frequent, intense and prolonged crying of an otherwise healthy baby. Colic begins suddenly and often takes parents by surprise. About 15 to 25 percent of babies suffer from colic. During colic, these babies cry more than usual, mindlessly and for no apparent reason. At this time, parents feel helpless because their usual efforts to calm their children are completely ineffective.
Technically, colic is “severe, variable abdominal pain caused by intestinal gas or intestinal obstruction, especially in infants.” Colic itself is not a disease and does not cause long-term harm to the baby.
Fortunately, baby colic is not a permanent condition. Generally, it starts at about 6 weeks and gets better at about 3 to 4 months.
The difference between colic and crying: Symptoms of baby colic
Determining the range of babies’ crying from “mild” to “severe” can be difficult because babies’ crying patterns are different. Knowing the symptoms of infant colic can help you diagnose the cause of the crying. Rule 3 helps parents and clinicians diagnose colic in babies.
Rule 3 says a baby has colic if…
3 or more weeks have passed since the baby was born and the baby cries at least 3 hours a day and at least 3 days a week for 3 or more consecutive weeks.
In addition to “Rule 3,” the following symptoms can also be a sign of infant colic:
1- Crying usually occurs at a certain time every day: Although colic can occur at any time of the day or night, most babies suffer from it in the afternoon or at night, and it usually occurs at the same time in most the days.
2- It seems that the origin of the crying is not clear and occurs for no reason: most of the child’s crying is based on his need. Babies cry when they are hungry, tired, or want to be held. But colic crying is not based on need. The baby may be completely calm one minute and start crying the next. In this way, the crying happens for no reason and you can’t figure out why. If the baby’s crying also follows rule 3, it is likely that your baby is suffering from colic.
3- During the intense crying of the child, you notice his movement more: If the child moves more than usual and twists himself, this is a sign of colic. Colicky babies often tuck their legs towards their stomachs, make fists, and move their arms and legs more.
Or when …
4- The child’s face has different expressions when crying: Many colicky children close their eyes tightly when crying, or they do the opposite and open their eyes a lot. They may also hold their breath for a short time during colic and their face may turn red.
5- Bowel activity may increase: Does your child pass gas or spit up while crying? Since digestive issues can often be the cause of baby colic, you may notice that your baby has more gas or spits up more than usual. In addition, gas results from swallowing air during prolonged crying.
6- A lot of crying occurs while eating and sleeping: the baby’s body knows when it feels hungry and sleepy. If the baby cries while breastfeeding or sleeps (and cannot be soothed), this is a sign of colic.
What are the causes of colic in children?
The cause of this illness is mysterious and unclear because it appears suddenly and for no apparent reason. But in general, there are cases that doctors believe cause or aggravate colic in babies.
1- The child’s nervous system is still in the process of development and its senses are activated easily:
In general, at the time of birth, the baby has a mechanism that can easily handle the images and sounds around him, feed him and put him to sleep. But this mechanism disappears in about 1 month. For this reason, colic usually begins at 3 or 4 weeks of age. Imagine that the baby spent almost a year safely in his mother’s womb. But the outside world is full of new sounds, lights, feelings, and people, which is why it is normal for a child to feel tired and overstimulated. Meanwhile, he relieves this tension by crying more often.
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2- The child’s digestive system is still developing:
It is not excluded that colic is the result of problems in the gastrointestinal tract. The baby’s digestive system is not yet fully developed, so digesting food can be a challenge for him! It is possible that the baby’s food is not being digested properly. Improper digestion of milk can lead to gas discomfort and pain, which can lead to colic.
3- Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause colic. If you notice a lot of gas or spitting up in your baby due to colic symptoms, acid reflux or GERD may be the cause.
4- Food sensitivity or sensitivity:
Colic can be related to the baby’s stomach. Some experts believe colic could be caused by an allergy to the proteins in the formula. In addition, it is believed that some foods in the mother’s diet can cause colic when breastfeeding. Although this cause is rare compared to other conditions, it can still be considered as one of the causes of colic in babies.
- hunger or tiredness
- Lack of sleep
- Overfeeding the child
- Too little or too much breast milk
- Environmental stimuli and reaction to tensions in the home
- Improper diet of the mother (eating sour foods, citrus fruits, cow’s milk and pasteurized milk is not appropriate)
- high temperature milk (milk powder)
What is the duration of colic?
Colic usually appears 3 weeks after delivery and peaks at about 6 weeks. Colic does not last forever and usually goes away by 3 to 4 months. However, some colic lasts a little longer and lasts up to 6 months.
When should I take my child to the doctor?
Pay attention to the signs and symptoms of colic to determine if your baby has colic. However, the following symptoms may present as colic when they are not:
- acid reflux or stomach problems;
- Compression or inflammation of the brain and nervous system
- Heartbeat disorder
- Damage to bones, muscles, or fingers
If you are concerned about your baby due to colic or excessive irritability, you should see your doctor. By examining the baby, the doctor can rule out any medical problems and give his or her opinion as to whether or not the baby is suffering from colic. As we always say, you know your child best! If you think something is wrong, contact your doctor.
How to help relieve infant colic?
Colic is stressful for both the baby and the parents. There is currently no cure for colic because it is not a technical disease and eventually resolves on its own. However, you can help relieve your baby’s colic pain with some medications.
The best techniques for relieving colic in babies are:
1- Try to keep the baby’s stomach facing forward and on the forearm. The gentle pressure of your forearm against the baby’s tummy helps relieve colic pain.
2- Using different sounds: Hearing a quiet and continuous sound that calms the baby’s colic. Run the washing machine, vacuum cleaner or hair dryer until the baby’s colic gradually subsides.
3- Ask someone else to cuddle your child: If you give your child to someone else to cuddle, that child will probably calm down. Children can sense your uptight energy and tension, which makes them even more restless.
4- Swaddling your baby: The pressure of the swaddle and the cocoon-like feeling comfort the baby as it mimics the environment of the womb and prevents the baby from overstimulation.
5- Take your baby to a quiet environment: Although swaddling helps reduce overstimulation of the baby, you should also try to take the baby to a quiet environment. If you notice that a certain environment is causing your baby to colic, avoid going into that environment and the triggers that cause it. Also note when colic usually starts and get the baby into that comfortable environment beforehand.
6- Sleeping on the side or stomach can also help calm fussy babies and even ease stomachaches (just remember to put the baby to sleep on his back).
7- The sound of white noise or what is called the sound of television can imitate the sound of the womb for the child and calm him down.
8- Cooing: imitates the movement of the fetus in the womb and calms it down. Finally, using a pacifier can calm many restless babies.
Although all of the above techniques are helpful in calming colicky babies, some babies may only respond to certain techniques. So find the best way to calm your baby by trying all the tricks.
If you think your baby’s colic is caused by problems like gas, GERD or acid reflux, you can use the following tricks to relieve the discomfort or pain:
1- Test your diet to determine if food allergies or sensitivities are contributing to your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about temporarily removing foods that cause problems in your child’s tummy. If you are using powdered milk, you can use hypoallergenic powdered milk.
2- Burping the child until the gases and air trapped in his stomach are released, especially if the child is crying a lot. Prolonged crying can trap wind and cause discomfort and pain to the baby. This makes your baby cry worse and for a longer time. Burping the baby helps relieve the pain.
3- Consult your doctor about other treatment methods. The doctor offers specific treatment options to solve your child’s problem. Some doctors recommend probiotics to reduce discomfort in children, but you should always check with your pediatrician before introducing anything new into your child’s routine.
8 Additional Tips for Baby Colic
- Medicines usually do not help relieve colic. Simethicone may be prescribed to relieve flatulence.
- If you use your own milk to feed your baby, try to avoid dairy products for a few weeks. Your child may be allergic to milk protein. Talk to your doctor about the amount of milk you have, and he will tell you if your milk supply is enough for your baby.
- Do not shake the child violently. If you are tired of your baby crying, hand him over to another trusted adult. If you are alone with the baby, put him in a safe place, such as his room.
- Try to remove gases from the baby’s stomach, as it is effective in aggravating and forming baby colic. For this purpose, you can raise the baby’s legs, bring them closer to the chest and hold them in this position for a few minutes. When you feed him, burp him often. You can resort to a feeding bottle that allows less air to enter the baby’s mouth. In this case, be careful that your cute baby holds the bottle correctly and sucks it correctly.
- Do not give medicine to your child to reduce or eliminate colic. Not using medication is the best and most effective way to get rid of this condition sooner.
- In most cases, treating reflux in babies can transform your baby from a restless and crying baby to a calm and cheerful one. You cannot see a doctor to treat reflux.
- Before the baby becomes sleepless or falls asleep, try to get him to sleep completely peacefully, because when the baby is very tired and does not have a fixed time and sleep schedule, he is more prone to colic.
- It is recommended that mothers with colicky babies always place them in a semi-asleep position (a position between sitting and lying down) while breastfeeding. And the best time for these babies is to sleep in a carrier or carrycot for babies.