If your otherwise healthy newborn is experiencing intense and lasting bouts of continuous crying, typically in the evening hours, you might be dealing with colic.
What is Colic?
While crying is typical in newborns, the general consensus among the medical community defines colic as crying that lasts more than 3 hours per day for more than 3 days out of the week in an otherwise healthy infant under 3 months of age, that usually begins suddenly, with loud and mostly continuous crying. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, up to 30 percent of normal, healthy babies have colic, so it’s quite common. They note the primary concerns about colic are the stress it causes in parents and the lack of sleep it causes parents and babies, and recommend that before assuming your child has colic, you should look for other signs of illness.
The Causes of Colic
While physicians are not sure what causes colic, research has shown that boys and girls are equally affected, and symptoms of colic usually resolve by the time a baby is about 4 months old.
The Signs of Colic
The Mayo clinic identifies that some common symptoms that could indicate colic are:
- Intense crying that may seem more like screaming or an expression of pain
- Crying for no apparent reason, unlike crying to express hunger or the need for a diaper change
- Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished
- Predictable timing, with episodes often occurring in the evening
- Facial discoloration, such as reddening of the face or paler skin around the mouth
- Bodily tension, such as pulled up or stiffened legs, stiffened arms, clenched fists, arched back, or tense abdomen
They are careful to note that these symptoms might be an indication of colic or an indication of an illness or condition that causes pain or discomfort, and recommend scheduling an appointment with your child’s doctor for a thorough exam if your infant is experiencing any of the above symptoms.
The Timing of Colic
When does Colic start and how long does it last? There is a general consensus amongst the medical community that colic usually peaks around the 6-week mark and declines significantly or goes away altogether around 3 to 4 months.
Is There a Cure for Colic?
The Mayo Clinic recommends soothing the baby as much as possible in a variety of ways to help provide support and relief for parents. Some successful soothing strategies they highlight are:
- Using a pacifier
- Taking your infant for a car ride or on a walk in a stroller
- Walking around with or rocking your baby
- Swaddling your baby in a blanket
- Giving your baby a warm bath
- Rubbing your infant’s tummy or placing your baby on the tummy for a back rub
- Playing an audio of heartbeats or quiet, soothing sounds
- Providing white noise by running a white noise machine, a vacuum cleaner or clothes drier in a nearby room
- Dimming the lights and limiting other visual stimulation
Probiotics for Colic Relief
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines probiotics as “live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body,” with the most common being bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. They point out that probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including the treatment of infant colic. While there is currently no single cure for colic, some probiotics have been successful in helping with infant colic. Specifically, Colic Relief Plus has been proven to reduce crying time after just 7 days of use.