It’s normal for babies to cry and get fussy. Crying is their way of communicating their needs. But if the baby’s normal fussiness turns into prolonged periods of crying for no apparent reason, these might indicate colic.

Before you panic, you should know that colic is very common. It affects up to 19% of babies1. This normally goes away on its own by the time the child reaches six months. Colic is neither a disease nor a diagnosis—even doctors can’t pinpoint what exactly causes it. Colic is when an otherwise healthy child cries for more than three times a day, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks2.

Signs and symptoms

You’ll know if it’s colic when your baby persistently cries and won’t respond to comfort measures. Moreover, colicky crying is usually louder and more intense, almost like screaming. Other symptoms include:

  • Reddened face

  • Clenched fists while crying

  • Arched back

  • Pulling up his or her legs to his or her stomach

  • Enlarged tummy

  • High-pitched crying (almost like in pain)

  • Passes gas more frequently

If symptoms persist or worsen, have your child get checked by a doctor because it might be an underlying condition other than colic.

How to help

Because there is no real cause of colic, there’s no one “cure.” Dealing with colic requires more management than treatment. Follow these tips to help soothe your baby.

  • Avoid overfeeding. Have your baby get used to a feeding pattern so they’ll learn how to self-regulate3.

  • Watch what they eat. Food sensitivity can cause discomfort. Seek medical advice on the possible modifications you can do to your child’s diet. Include partially hydrolysed proteins (PHP) if you can. These protein molecules are easier to digest and less allergic as compared to regular cow’s milk4.

  • Use gentle motions. Rock them to sleep in your arms or in a rocking chair. Hold them close to your chest while you walk around. You can also massage his or her back to help him or her calm down.

  • Create calm. Babies have a built-in mechanism that allows them to tune out environmental stimuli5. But this gradually disappears as they age. Overstimulation can cause stress, which is why they cry. Make his or her environment peaceful. Dim the lights, sing or speak to him or her softly, or wrap him or her snuggly into a blanket.

Just like any challenge, this, too, shall pass. Always seek professional advice when necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask help from your family and friends, too! You’re also human, so taking a break is valid.

References

  1. Infant colic (2015). Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809021/

  2. Colic: Symptoms & Causes (n.d). Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colic/symptoms-causes/syc-20371074

  3. Colic: What To Do (n.d). Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://www.babybonus.msf.gov.sg/parentingresources/web/Newborn/NewbornIllness/NewbornColic/Newborn_Colic_What_To_Do?_afrLoop=37215692650321740&_afrWindowMode=0&_afrWindowId=null#%40%3F_afrWindowId%3Dnull%26_afrLoop%3D37215692650321740%26_afrWindowMode%3D0%26_adf.ctrl-state%3Drq4v9eiro_4

  4. Formula Protein Type. Retrieved October 7, 2020 from https://babyformulaexpert.com/baby-formula-protein-type/

  5. Physical Assessment of the Newborn: A Comprehensive Approach to the Art of Physical Examination (2015). Retrieved October 7, 2020 from http://academyofneonatalnursing.org/NNT/Nervous_PANBehavioralAssessment.pdf