All babies cry. The average duration of crying during the first three months of life ranges from 68 to 133 minutes per day. The duration of crying is greatest during the first six weeks of life and declines after eight to nine weeks. During the first three months of life, they cry more than at any other time. But when a baby who is healthy cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, a health care provider may say the baby has colic.
How can I tell it is colic causing the crying?
Common features include:
· Intense crying that may seem more like screaming or an expression of pain
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· Crying for no apparent reason, unlike crying to express hunger or the need for a diaper change
· Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished
· Predictable timing with episodes often occurring in the evening
· Facial discolouring such as reddening of the face or paler skin around the mouth
· Bodily tension such as pulled up or stiffened legs or stiffened arms, clenched fists, arched back, or tense abdomen
Colic most often starts when a baby is about two to five weeks old and gets better by the time the baby is three to four months old. Any baby can have colic. There is no test for colic. Health care professionals ask about the crying and how the baby is doing. They’ll do an exam to make sure there’s no health reason for the crying. If you think your baby has colic, call your doctor.
What causes colic?
Doctors aren’t sure what causes colic. It may be due to digestion problems or sensitivity to something in the baby’s formula or that a nursing mum is eating. Or it might be from a baby trying to get used to the sights and sounds of being out in the world. Some colicky babies also have gas because they swallow so much air while crying. But it’s not the gas that causes the colic. The cause of colic is unknown. Many theories have been suggested. Digestive system that isn’t fully developed, imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, food allergies or intolerances, overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping, early form of childhood migraine, family stress or anxiety.
How can I help my baby with colic?
A non allergic diet for breast-feeding mothers which excludes cow’s milk products and other possible trigger foods may be helpful in some cases. If food intolerance is suspected in a baby with infantile colic then some experts recommend a short trial with an extensively hydrolysed cow’s milk protein formula or, if breast-fed, with a maternal hypoallergenic diet (eliminating dairy foods, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish).
When should you be worried about crying?
Babies cry for other reasons that are not colic. The first step is to make sure a baby doesn’t have a health reason to be crying. Call your doctor right away if your baby has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, is less alert or active than usual, isn’t feeding well, isn’t sucking strongly when taking the bottle or breast, has loose stool or blood in the stool, is throwing up (when food comes out of the baby’s mouth or nose with force), is losing weight or not gaining weight, and can’t calm down no matter what you do.
Can colic trigger postpartum depression in mothers?
Yes. It might increase risk of postpartum depression in mothers. It can also lead to early cessation of breast-feeding, the mother feeling guilty, exhausted, helpless or angry.