Colic in Infants in the first few weeks

COLIC – COMES AND GOES

You brought your new born home, and had just settled into a comfortable routine with her when it all starts - incessant, ear-shattering wails with clenched fists, flapping legs and an unpleasant red face. You’ve checked her diaper, fed her, comforted her, no matter what you try, you can’t soothe your crying baby. She may have COLIC.  

Colic is a common condition where there are recurrent stints of excessive crying in a perfectly healthy infant. It starts around 2 to 3 weeks of age and usually peaks around 6 to 8 weeks and then gradually subsides, disappearing completely around 3 to 4 months of age. A colicky baby generally goes through the crying episodes typically in the late afternoon or evening until midnight. While the constant screaming may cause stress and anxiety for parents/caregivers because nothing seems to alleviate it, just remember it is only a temporary phase that won't last forever. 

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF COLIC

Colicky babies may have a host of behaviours (none of which are only limited to an episode of colic), and each baby behaves in a completely unique way. Here are some signs of colic to look out for – 

  • Your baby seems to be crying for no reason (not because she has a dirty diaper or is hungry or tired).
  • Colicky crying is louder, extremely piercing, and more urgent sounding than the regular crying.
  • Belching or spitting up excessively after feeding, which may relieve symptoms.
  • Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished.
  • Facial discoloring, such as reddening of the face or paler skin around the mouth.
  • Colic generally follows a "rules of three" pattern – crying lasts a total of at least three hours a day, at least three days a week and for at least three consecutive weeks.
  • Burping often or passing a lot of gas, likely because of swallowing air while crying.
  • Having a tight belly, curling up the legs and clenching the fists when crying.
  • Eating and sleeping are interrupted by excessive crying. Baby desperately seeks a nipple only to reject it once sucking has begun, or dozes for a few moments only to wake up screaming.

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF COLIC

There is no one known cause of colic and may result from numerous contributing factors. A number of possible causes that have been suggested are – 

  • Acid reflux (stomach acid flowing upward into the esophagus, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD).
  • Colic being just part of the normal spectrum of the crying behavior of babies.
  • Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Sensitivity to something in the baby's formula or that a nursing mom is eating. 
  • Emotional reaction to fear, frustration, or excitement.
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, etc., or too much stimulation.
  • Feeling of fullness wherein babies may overreact to the unfamiliar sensations of gas or fullness and may interpret these feelings as painful or alarming.
  • General immaturity wherein babies may take a few months to adjust to life outside the womb.

REMEMBER

Colic always goes away and your baby will outgrow this phase. Find a technique that consoles your baby during this phase and if everything has been tried and your baby still cries, try to just hold them. Call your child's healthcare provider to get help whenever needed.