Life is good. Your little bundle of joy is just that and more. Three weeks in and she’s just starting to figure out the whole sleep thing. Suddenly Then BAM! Colic hits, and you wonder how this tiny little being can wreak so much havoc so intensely for such long periods of time.
The Mayo Clinic defines colic as “crying more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby.” Colic is not a harmful condition to babies, but the incessant crying does put place considerable strain on parents. Up to 25% of babies have colic at some point during early infancy, and thankfully colic rarely lasts beyond the fourth month (granted that’s still an insane length of time to new parents).
How do you know if your baby has colic? The signs are hard to miss:
- Inconsolable crying. Babies with colic cannot be comforted, no matter what the parent does.
- Predictability. Colic occurs suddenly at the same time every day, often in the late afternoon or evening.
- Change in posture. The baby will curl up her legs, clench her fists, and tighten the abdominal muscles. Gas or bowel movements may come toward the end of an episode of colic.
Despite doctors’ best efforts, the causes of colic remain elusive. Babies who have mothers that smoke are at greater risk of developing colic, yet it affects babies of nonsmoking moms as well. While we don’t know what causes colic, we do know what doesn’t cause colic:
- It is not a result of feeding methods. Breastfed infants develop colic just as often as their bottle fed peers.
- It is not due to certain formula brands.
- It is not a result of a mother’s temperament or anxiety. Colic was once blamed on a mother’s temperament and/or anxiety. Research has disproved this theory.
- It is not an indicator of food allergies or lactose intolerance.
- Girls and boys develop colic similarly.
- Colic is just as prevalent in firstborns as it is in later born children.
If your little one develops colic, do what you can to comfort him or her. You can’t cure the colic, but anything you do will help. Rock, sing, walk, pat baby’s back, go for a car ride, run the washing machine on the spin cycle, or take a walk outside. Tag team the duties so one parent can have a break, or enlist a new set of arms (grandparents are great) to help cope with the condition. Regardless of what you do, stay calm and remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This too shall pass.