Colic is a term used to describe the fussy condition of babies who cry excessively. A baby is considered colicky if the crying goes on for more than three hours a day, three days a week and for more than three weeks.
Colic can range from crying a few hours a day, often in the evening hours, to crying almost all the time. Sometimes, the baby takes in excess air from all the crying, causing the infant to pass gas and have a tight, swollen belly. Babies with colic often turn bright red from all the crying, or they curl up their feet or fists like they're in pain.
Despite how common colic is, researchers aren't sure why some babies get colic and others do not. Some believe that certain babies are just more sensitive or temperamental than others or may have an immature nervous system. Hunger, acid reflux, problems digesting food properly or the mother having smoked during pregnancy are other potential causes of colic.
Treatment of Colic
Colic can be incredibly frustrating for new parents, but they should remember that it's not their fault and that the colic will go away. About half of the cases of colic end after three months, and 90 percent end after six months. Some simple things that can help with colic include: holding the baby frequently, massaging clockwise or applying warmth to the tummy, burping the baby frequently or changing the breast-feeding routine or formula choice.
Sometimes, however, colic can be a sign of something that needs medical attention. For example, if the colic goes on well beyond the age of 3 months, it might be a sign of acid reflux. Also, if a fever is present, if the baby’s cry is a painful one, if the baby stops gaining weight or you're afraid you might hurt the baby, contact a health care provider for assistance.
SOURCES: American Pregnancy Association; American Academy of Family Physicians
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