Colic Articles does
your baby have colic?
article used by courtesy of
Colic- Does Your Baby
You may have heard
the term colic applied to any baby
who cries a great deal. Not all
crying babies have colic, but all
colicky babies cry and they cry
hard. They may stiffen their little
bodies, or curl up as if in pain.
They may cry so hard that they don’t
seem like they even know you are
there. When babies cry like this,
they take in a lot of air, which
creates gas and more pain, which
makes them cry even more.
still unsure of colic’s exact
cause. Some experts believe that
colic is related to the immaturity
of a baby’s digestive system.
Others theorize that a baby’s
immature nervous system and
inability to handle the constant
sensory stimulation that surrounds
her cause a breakdown by the end of
the day, when colic most often
Dr. Harvey Karp,
in his book The Happiest Baby on the
Block (Bantam Books, 2002)
introduced a new theory. He believes
that babies are born three months
too early, and that some babies find
their new world too difficult to
handle. They yearn for the
comforting conditions that occurred
in the womb.
cause, and it may be a combination
of all the theories; colic is among
the most exasperating conditions
that parents of new babies face.
Colic occurs only to newborn babies,
up to about four to five months of
age. Symptoms include:
• A regular
period of nonstop, inconsolable
crying, typically late in the day
• Crying bouts that last one to
three hours or more
• A healthy and happy disposition
at all other times of the day
Can Colic be
Given that we aren’t
sure what causes colic, we don’t
know if it can be prevented. Even if
you do everything “right” and
take all the steps to discourage
colic, it still may happen. If you
think your baby has colic, talk with
your pediatrician and take your baby
in for a checkup to rule out any
medical cause for your baby’s
crying. If your baby is given a
clean bill of health, then you’ll
know colic is the culprit in the
daily crying bouts.
Since colic occurs
in newborns, parents often feel that
they are doing something wrong to
create the situation. Their
vulnerability and lack of experience
puts them in the position of
questioning their own ability to
take care of their baby. Hearing
your baby cry with colic, and not
knowing why it’s happening or what
to do about it is painful for you; I
know this because one of my four
children suffered with colic.
Although many years have passed
since then (Angela is now 15), I
remember it vividly. Hearing my baby
cry night after night and not
knowing how to help her was gut
wrenching, heartbreaking, and
frustrating. The most important
piece of research I discovered was
this: It’s not your fault. Any
baby can have colic.
Things That May
Help Your Baby
breastfeeding, feed on demand (cue
feeding), for nutrition as well as
comfort, as often as your baby needs
a calming influence.
• If breastfeeding, try avoiding
foods that may cause gas in your
baby. Eliminate one possible cause
for a few days and see if it makes a
difference. The most common baby
tummy offenders are dairy products,
caffeine, cabbage, broccoli and
other gassy vegetables. But don’t
assume the culprit, if there is one,
will be obvious: I know one mother
whose baby reacted loudly and
consistently after any meal that
included eggplant, asparagus or
• If bottlefeeding, offer more
frequent but smaller meals;
experiment with different formulas
with your doctor’s approval.
• If bottlefeeding, try different
types of bottles and nipples that
prevent air from entering your baby
as he drinks, such as those with
curved bottles or collapsible
• Hold your baby in a more upright
position for feeding and directly
• Experiment with how often and
when you burp your baby.
• Offer meals in a quiet setting.
• If baby likes a pacifier, offer
• Invest in a baby sling or
carrier and use it during colicky
• If the weather’s too
unpleasant for an outside stroll,
bring your stroller in the house and
walk your baby around.
• Give your baby a warm bath.
• Place a warm towel or wrapped
water bottle on baby’s tummy
(taking caution that the temperature
is warm but not hot).
• Hold your baby with her legs
curled up toward her belly.
• Massage your baby’s tummy, or
give him a full massage.
• Swaddle your baby in a warm
• Lay your baby tummy down across
your lap and massage or pat her
• Hold your baby in a rocking
chair, or put him in a swing.
• Walk with Baby in a quiet, dark
room while you hum or sing.
• Try keeping your baby away from
highly stimulating situations during
the day when possible to prevent
sensory overload, and understand
that a particularly busy day may
mean a fussier evening.
• Lie on your back and lay your
baby on top of your tummy down while
massaging his back. (Transfer your
baby to his bed if he falls asleep.)
• Take Baby for a ride in the car.
• Play soothing music or turn on
white noise such as a vacuum cleaner
or running water, or play a CD of
• As a last resort, ask your
doctor about medications available
for colic and gas.
Tips for Coping
As difficult as
colic is for a baby, it is just as
challenging for the parents. This
can be especially hard for a mother
who has other children to care for,
who has returned to work, or who is
suffering from the baby blues or
postpartum depression. Even if
everything else in life is perfect,
colic is taxing. Here are a few
things you can do to take some of
the stress out of these colicky
• Know that your baby will cry
during his colicky time, and while
you can do things to make your baby
more comfortable, nothing you can do
will totally stop the crying. This
is not a result of anything you’ve
done or not done.
• Plan outings for the times of
day when baby is usually happy, or
if outings keep your baby happy,
plan them for the colicky times.
• Take advantage of another person’s
offer to take a turn with the baby,
even if it’s just so that you can
take a quiet bath or shower.
• Keep reminding yourself that
this is only temporary; it will
• Avoid keeping a long to-do list
right now; only do what’s most
• Talk to other parents of colicky
babies so you can share ideas and
comfort each other.
• If the crying is getting to you
and making you tense or angry, put
your baby in his crib, or give him
to someone else to hold for a while
so that you don’t accidentally
shake or harm your baby. (Shaking a
baby can cause permanent brain
damage, so if you feel angry, and
colic can do that to you, put your
• Know that babies do not suffer
long-term harm from having colic.
When Should I
call the Doctor?
Anytime you are
concerned about your baby, call your
doctor. That goes for anything
concerning your precious little one.
In the case of colic, be sure to
make that call if you notice any of
• Your baby’s crying is
accompanied by vomiting.
• Your baby is not gaining weight.
• The colicky behavior lasts
longer than four months.
• Your baby seems to be in pain.
• Your baby has a fever.
• Your baby doesn’t want to be
held or handled.
• The crying spree isn’t limited
to one bout in the evening.
• Your baby does not have regular
bowel movements or wet diapers.
• You notice other problems that
don’t appear on the previous list
• Your baby’s crying is making
you angry or depressed.
Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep
Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your
Baby Sleep Through the Night by
Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002.
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and is not medical or
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