One of the hardest things for a new parent to experience is colic. Your baby is crying inconsolably for hours and weeks on end, making parents feel helpless, frustrated and anxious.
Colic is defined as an infant crying continuously for three consecutive hours for at least three days a week for at least three weeks in a row. Colic typically starts for babies between three to five weeks and could last up to four months, with the average colic lasting between two to eight weeks.
When babies have colic, their cries are not the typical hungry, lonely or tired cries. Colic cries sound as if the baby is in intense pain and nothing seems to help or calm them.
Research has proven colic affects 10 percent of babies and whether a baby is breastfed or formula-fed seems to make no difference. Socioeconomic status also doesn’t affect whether a baby gets colic, although research has shown that it does happen slightly more often in babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy.
Many physicians think colic has something to do with the infant’s gastrointestinal tract. Studies have been conducted to look at a colic versus non-colic baby’s bacterial content in the GI tract, and there does seem to be a difference there.
Parents can feel helpless, but here are a few suggestions if your baby is experiencing colic:
- Gentle vibrations: Babies who love to ride in the car can appreciate the gentle vibrations of a vibrating baby chair or rocker.
- White noise: Often, white noise like a vacuum, static or waves/rain can calm a baby. There are white noise machines available with different options of sounds to try.
- Feeding change: If the baby is breastfed, try eliminating milk from the mother’s diet. If the baby is formula-fed, a change in formula to a hydrolyzed, partially digested formula can be helpful.
- Prescription for gut health: Perhaps a change in the baby’s gut motility can help. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about probiotics and possible prescriptions that could alter the bacteria in the colon.
It’s important for parents to remember: You didn’t cause this. Colic is a fluke and, for 25 percent of babies experiencing it, nothing helps at all.
Having a baby crying inconsolably is extremely difficult, and it’s important for parents to take the breaks they need to. You will get frustrated and anxious, which is normal. Set your baby down in a safe place and walk away to collect yourself when you need to.
As a parent experiencing a baby with colic, remind yourself that it will get better. And eventually it will.