Parents can often identify their baby’s cry in a roomful of wailing infants. And most parents expect occasional crying spells to be an ordinary part of childhood. Unfortunately, colic can cause your baby to cry for no apparent reason – for hours at a time.
Our team at Southfield Pediatrics in Bingham Farms and Novi, Michigan, provides top-level, comprehensive care from infancy through adolescence. We consider supporting parents throughout each parenting stage part of our mission.
To that end, we’re happy to offer information about colic and provide tips for comforting your baby during their colicky days and nights.
Colic isn’t a diagnosis or disease but a combination of baffling behaviors. It's essentially a catch-all term for excessive crying, the cause of which is not readily apparent.
Colic in infants usually starts around 2-weeks of age, peaks around 6-weeks, and fades by 3-4 months.
Medical researchers are not sure exactly what causes colic. It could be due to the baby's developing digestive system causing gas and discomfort.
Other potential causes include underfeeding or overfeeding, overstimulation, emotional reaction to frustration or fear, and possibly an early form of migraine headaches.
Fortunately, colic doesn't result in any long-term problems, and colicky babies are healthy and grow normally. However, it can be understandably stressful for parents and other caregivers.
How do I know it’s colic?
Along with intense crying that can go on for hours, symptoms during a colicky episode may include:
- A firm or swollen abdomen
- Clenched fists
- Arched back
- Legs curled over the tummy
- Passing gas, which may bring temporary relief
- Facial grimaces
Babies with colic may cry at the same time each day, often in the late afternoon or evening. The crying is usually high-pitched and intense, seeming to indicate significant distress.
Making it through the colicky phase
While excessive, inconsolable crying can indicate colic, it could also signal an illness or condition that requires medical care.
That’s why we recommend an evaluation at Southfield Pediatrics if your baby’s symptoms are new, seem worse, or you notice fever, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or decreased appetite.
Otherwise, if you’ve checked their diaper, ensured they don’t need feeding, or found no apparent cause for their tears, try these strategies to soothe colicky babies:
- Hold and soothe your baby with gentle rocking or swaying motions as you walk
- Try placing the baby in a stroller and taking a walk
- Create a calm environment with dim lighting and a soft lullaby (humming works)
- Give them a warm bath to help them relax
- Introduce a pacifier
- Rub your baby’s tummy gently in a clockwise direction to help relieve gas
- Try simethicone gas drops or over-the-counter colic remedies
Car rides are notoriously helpful for soothing colicky babies and may become part of your nightly routine for several weeks.
Dealing with a colicky baby can be challenging, but it’s temporary. Reach out to your support network in the meantime and ask for assistance. Friends and family can lend a supportive shoulder by helping with household tasks or soothing the baby while you take a break.
For outstanding pediatric care from infancy through adolescence, schedule a visit at Southfield Pediatrics. Call the office or request an appointment online today.