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Illnesses & Symptoms

Colic

What is Colic?

Colic is unexplained crying in infants. It can last for up to two hours or more and may happen several times a day. Babies with colic are healthy (not sick or in pain), not hungry and are content between crying times. Colic usually begins during the first month of life and ends between three and six months of age.

Coping with Colic

  1. Try cuddling and rocking your baby during crying times. Repetitive motions like rocking or swinging are soothing for many infants. Warm a blanket by fluffing it in the dryer and wrap Baby in it. 
  2. Try to find the position that is most soothing to your baby. Suggestions:
    • front baby carrier or sling
    • baby swing
    • stroller 
    • riding in the car
    • walking with your baby
  3. Take walks. Be sure to use a blanket or cover to protect Baby from the sun and chill. If the weather's not appropriate, drive the stroller around your home. Many babies love the motion of a stroller.
  4. Repetitive, soothing sounds such as music, vacuum cleaner, clock ticking, or clothes dryer may comfort your baby.
  5. Try anything else that may be helpful such as a pacifier, warm bath or massage.
  6. Promote nighttime sleep. When your baby wakes during the day, feed or play with him. At nighttime feeds, just feed and change the diaper without being fun.
  7. Swaddle your baby in a blanket and put your baby on this back in his crib or bed. Leave the legs loose in the swaddle so Baby can move them for comfort. Stop the swaddle when your baby starts to roll (usually 4-6 months of age). Swaddling babies who can roll has been associated with SIDS.
  8. Get rest and help for yourself. Try to nap when your baby naps. Get a friend or family member to help with chores and caring for your other children or the baby.
  9. Probiotics have been shown to decrease colic. These are live organisms that help the digestive process and the immune system. You can purchase liquid probiotic formulations for infants at your pharmacy or find a formula with probiotics or prebiotics in it.
  10. Gripe Water is an herbal formulation that has been used for centuries. There are many brands that contain herbs such as ginger, dill, and fennel that help may settle the stomach and many parents report that they help. Because they are herbal substances they are not regulated by the FDA. Ask your pharmacist if they have a brand they trust.
  11. A great resource: The Period of Purple Crying.
  12. Check to be sure there isn't a piece of hair or thread wrapped around a toe or other body part or sign of injury anywhere. Hair tourniquets can cut off blood flow and cause extreme pain. If found, remove promptly. If unable to remove it due to swelling, go to the ER. 
  13. If your baby cries regardless of what you do, take a break. Put Baby in a safe place after a thourough check to be sure there's nothing wrong with him and leave the room. Turn on music or another distraction. It doesn't have to be a long time, but a short break can do wonders. Even better: If there's more than one adult home, take turns leaving the house. It's stressful to hear Baby cry and breaks can make it more bearable.

Call your child’s doctor if:

  • Your baby has a fever, diarrhea or vomiting. (Note: Breastfed infants tend to have watery stools. If there is a change from normal, it might be diarrhea. Otherwise it is not a problem if baby is gaining weight well. Spitting up is common in babies. See our page on Reflux for more information.)
  • Your baby cries constantly for more than two hours or you cannot find a way to soothe your baby.
  • Your baby’s cry changes and it sounds weak or painful.
  • You are afraid you might hurt your baby.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Colic does not last forever, it just seems like it.

 

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Illnesses & Symptoms