What is Infant Colic?

Is your baby crying more than usual? If so, it could be a sign of infant colic.

It’s important to notice that all babies cry – a lot. Because they can’t speak, they communicate through crying. Unfortunately, a cry can mean that they need one of several things, but that is the fun of parenthood. Figuring out the cry signals takes time and dedication.

When your baby cries for several hours on end at least three times a week, it could be sign that they need more than just a diaper change or a new bottle. Colic is a term used to describe a series of symptoms that cause baby discomfort.

How will you recognize if your baby has colic? The obvious first sign is the crying. It is ongoing and can’t be soothed for very long, if at all. Typically, doctors say if your baby cries for at least three hours, three times a week for about three months, he is probably suffering from colic.

Another sign that parents notice often with alarm is a distended stomach. The abdomen feels hard to the touch as if your baby swallowed a beach ball. The pain associated with that distended stomach can cause him to wave his arms and legs wildly and arch his back all in an attempt to find relief. Colicky babies are often fussy, irritable and have trouble sleeping. If you notice that these symptoms occur after meals, go to see your doctor.

Parents are concerned about colic because, while they have heard the term, they aren’t sure how babies get it or get rid of it once they have it. The details are often sketchy, but it could have to do with baby being “new” to the world. Until a baby has time to learn to digest food (after about six or seven months of age) their digestive system is not mature enough.

With bottle feeding, babies sometimes swallow a lot of air and that can lead to trapped gas and digestive distress. Babies that breastfeed after mothers have eaten gas-producing foods (cauliflower, broccoli) can also suffer from colic.

Along the same lines as the immature digestive system is an immature nervous system. Inside the womb it is quiet. Stimulation is kept at a minimum. The new outside world has a lot of sights and sounds that can overload baby’s nervous system causing them to be fussy and irritable, and leading to a case of colic.

The most telling sign of colic is crying for hours on end. If you notice that your baby experiences any of these symptoms, see your doctor. He can prescribe treatment options for colic to help both you and your baby find relief.