Baby colic or infantile colic is an attack of frequent, prolonged and inconsolable crying in a healthy infant with no apparent reason. It is not a disease but a combination of unpredictable behaviors. It is very common among the infants around six weeks of age and gets normally better by 6 months of age. Baby colic is neither harmful nor dangerous, it is short lived.
In simple words, when a healthy baby cries persistently without any obvious reason, it is baby colic. This crying generally occurs at evening or late night and lasts at least three hours at a stretch. With colic, episodes of high-pitched crying generally occur at-least three days a week and persist for three consecutive weeks. As its reason is unknown, it is diagnosed after excluding other possible causes of crying.
Symptoms and Causes of Baby Colic:
Main symptom of colic is intense, very loud, and persistent crying, which usually starts suddenly for no obvious reason. Baby has a red or flushed face while crying and sometimes seems to be in pain. Arching of back, clenching of fists, drawing up of knees and recoiling to touch are few other symptoms. Sleep may be irregular or interrupted with episodes of crying. These episodes usually occur in the evening or late night and at the same time each day. With some infants, these symptoms are mild and the baby may experience only the periods of restlessness. (1) Colic is very frustrating for parents; they feel helpless and confused about what to do.
As far as causes of colic is concerned, doctors are not sure about it. In some cases, gas or abdominal pain may be the cause that appears during first few months after birth. It is usually at its worst in a baby’s second and third months, but the length of time, colic usually lasts, varies from baby to baby. Some other contributing factors of baby colic may be underfeeding or overfeeding, sensitivity to formula or breast milk, discomfort due to indigestion etc. ; however these causes are not supported by the evidences.
Remedies to soothe Baby Colic:
Baby colic is not harmful, therefore generally doesn’t requires medication. Actually there is no medicine that is safe and effective as far; however some home remedies or tips for parents are there which help to soothe colicky baby.
1. Feeding for Baby Colic:
Breast feeding is best for infants. Feed your baby in smaller quantities at frequent intervals of 1½ to 2 hour by keeping him as upright as possible. Then burp (dakar) the baby by gently patting on the back after each feed. If you are feeding formula milk to your infant, try some other brand; babies may be sensitive to certain brand of protein in formula milk.
Moreover, diet of the mother who is breastfeeding, also matters; a hypoallergenic diet may improve colic pain. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid tea, coffee, spicy food and alcohol.
2. Cuddling for Baby Colic:
Cuddling is one of the most effective remedies for colic. Keep your baby in skin to skin contact; when you hold your baby close, she feels secure and subsides crying. By rocking your baby gently in your arms, you can also make your baby sleep peacefully.
3. Create a Noise:
Create some noise to make feel like mother’s womb; background noise can often refocus baby’s attention, and reduce crying overall. For example, create a noise of fan, washing machine, vacuum cleaner etc., it will help to soothe your baby.
4. Warm Compress for Baby Colic:
Give a warm compress to you baby’s tummy with a hot water (not too hot) bag as colic is usually caused by problems in the digestive system. Or you can relieve the discomfort of colicky baby by putting a warm towel on his stomach.
5. Use of Probiotics for Colic:
Use of probiotics for increasing good bacteria, will also help to improve the function of intestines and aid in digestion of food. Because it is believed that the root cause of colic pain in infants may be related to the stomach problems.
6. Massage with Oil:
Massage with mustard, coconut or olive oil can also help to subside baby’s crying; it will make babies feel relaxed and calm by improving blood circulation.
7. Asafoetida for Baby Colic:
Asafoetida (heeng) also good to relieve baby colic pain. Take a solid block, break off pinch of asafoetida (heeng) and make paste by adding a little amount of warm water. Apply this paste over naval area of the baby; it helps to release gas from the stomach.
Though baby colic is a normal part of some infants’ lives that doesn’t harm your baby, but it is better to consult your doctor or family physician for trying colic soothing techniques.