It's common for babies to go through periods when they are irritable or cry for no apparent reason. If your baby is especially fussy, you may wonder if she has infant colic. Learn how to spot the signs and find solutions to help your colicky baby.
What is colic?
Baby colic is defined as excessive crying for at least 3 hours per day, 3 days per week for 3 weeks in a baby who is well-fed and otherwise healthy. Common symptoms are passing gas, clenched fists, drawing up legs, crying in the late afternoon and evening, inconsolability, wanting to feed and wanting to be held. It's estimated that 1 in five babies suffers from colic.
How long does it last?
Symptoms of baby colic usually appear by two weeks of age and peak at six weeks. Fortunately, it doesn't last long—most infants outgrow colic by four months of age.
What causes colic?
While gastrointestinal, psychosocial and neurodevelopmental issues have been suspected, the cause of infant colic remains unclear.
How should parents manage colic?
Because breast fed babies have similar rates of colic as formula-fed babies, mothers who are breastfeeding should continue breastfeeding. Some studies suggest that breastfeeding mothers try eliminating possibly troublesome foods from their own diets, like caffeine, eggs, wheat, nuts and cow's milk.
Should parents switch to a formula for colic?
If a cow's milk allergy is suspected, parents should talk to their child's doctor about switching to a hypoallergenic formula like Nutramigen® with Enflora™ LGG®*. It has both an extensively broken down protein and the probiotic LGG. Together, they help manage cow's milk allergies to help a baby feel better fast.
What are other ways to comfort a colicky baby?
While there is no one sure way to comfort a colicky baby, the following activities may help you soothe your baby.
Swaddle her. Wrap her securely in a blanket, then hold her close and rock her gently.
Turn on calming sounds. White noise like a vacuum cleaner, a fan or a recording of a heartbeat may remind your baby of being in the womb.
Walk with her. Or take her for a ride in her car seat. The swaying motions may remind her of the movements she felt in the womb.
Avoid overfeeding her. Wait at least 2 to 2 ½ hours from the beginning of one feeding to the next to avoid making your colicky baby more uncomfortable.
Offer a pacifier, your finger or thumb. Sucking has been shown to help soothe many babies.
* LGG is a registered trademark of Valio LTD.