How to tell if you baby is suffering from colic?
Most parents expect to deal with little sleep, smelly nappies and a few tears after their precious bundle of joy is born. So, what do you do if your baby suddenly starts wailing and doesn’t seem to stop? In fact, no matter how hard you try, your little one won’t settle. Well, he or she may be suffering from colic.
Colic is an extremely common ailment, affecting one in five babies. The main symptom is excessive crying, which normally starts in the first few weeks after birth, ending at four to six months of age. While it’s completely normal for babies to cry a lot after they’re born, newborns with colic require a lot of re-assurance.
Both sexes suffer from the same characteristics of colic, including continuous crying which lasts at least three hours in one period. If your baby is suffering from colic, then these symptoms will occur at least three days per week, for three or more weeks. Crying normally occurs in the late afternoon or evening and it’s usually at the same time each day. While you may assume you’re doing something wrong, be reassured that your parenting is not the cause of your little ones crying.
While you may assume that your baby is in pain, colic occurs in otherwise healthy babies. It’s very challenging to calm a baby suffering with this condition, however, the good news is that the majority of bouts will peak after around six weeks.
While you may feel anxious or distressed about your baby, colic isn’t a harmful condition and your baby will continue to grow and gain weight as normal.
The exact cause of colic isn’t conclusive, though genetics, pregnancy and parenting do not contribute. Many experts have established theories relating to this condition and why it may arise. Digestion is thought to be a significant factor as food may travel though the gastrointestinal system too fast without being broken down correctly. This can result in painful gas. Furthermore, acid reflux may trigger a bout of colic due to an undeveloped lower oesophageal sphincter. This muscle prevents stomach acid coming back up to the mouth, however, by the time they are a year old, the majority of babies grow out of acid reflux. Other factors that may contribute to colic are food allergies and over stimulated senses as new-borns may be overwhelmed with the amount of new sensations in their environment, leading to stress and constant crying.
Has your baby got colic?
If your baby is a few weeks old and experiencing excessive crying, then they may be suffering from colic. Caring for a baby with colic can be frustrating, but the condition isn’t dangerous to your child and will eventually pass.
The symptoms of colic include
- Intense bouts of crying with no apparent reason for being distressed
- Crying lasts for several hours at a time
- Crying may be worse in the evening
- A swollen stomach
- More gas is passed than usual
- Baby pulls knees up to their chest
- Baby may arch their back when crying
- Going red in the face
- Fists may be clenched
Vomiting, diarrhoea, and a raised temperature are not associated with colic. If your baby is suffering from these three symptoms, or you are unsure as to whether your baby has colic, consult immediate guidance from your doctor, midwife or health visitor.
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Q1. How old is your baby?
The age of your child will help to determine whether he or she has colic.
Is your baby aged between 0 to 4 months?
Or, is your baby aged over 4 months?
Most babies generally suffer from colic aged between two to four weeks old until four months of age. If your baby is older than four months, it’s unlikely that they will be suffering from colic.
Q2. Does your baby have a high temperature and/or is losing weight?
Babies with colic don’t generally have a high temperature or lose weight. If they have these symptoms, seek immediate advice from a medical professional or phone NHS Direct on 111.
Q3. Is your baby suffering from explosive, watery diarrhoea with colic symptoms?
Babies with colic do not usually suffer from diarrhoea. Consult your doctor or a medical professional if your child has bad diarrhoea, as your baby may be lactose intolerant. Ring NHS Direct on 111.
Q4. Does your baby suffer from hiccups and vomiting with colic symptoms?
Babies with colic don’t suffer from hiccups or vomiting. Your baby may be suffering from a reflux related condition and you should seek immediate medical advice. Please visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111.
Q5. Does your baby cry inconsolably for 3 hours or more a day for up to 3 times per week?
Babies with colic cry continuously for long periods of at least 3 hours per day, up to 3 times per week. If your baby is suffering from short bursts of crying, they may need more winding after feeds, be over or under stimulated, require sleep or a nappy change, be hungry or constipated. If your baby is constipated and over 2 months old, try cool boiled water and add a teaspoon of fruit juice.
Q6. Does the inconsolable crying usually occur late afternoon and evening?
Babies who are easily distracted when crying throughout the day may just need winding, be under or over stimulated, require sleep or a nappy change, be hungry or constipated. Babies suffering from colic normally cry in the late afternoon or evening.
Q7. Is your baby’s tummy bloated?
Some babies with colic suffer with a bloated tummy. However, your baby may require winding or be constipated.
Q8. Does your baby pull her knees to her chest and go red in the face?
Babies with colic usually pull their knees to their chest and go red in the face. If your baby doesn’t do this, they may need extra winding, be under or over stimulated, require sleep or a nappy change, be hungry or constipated.
Q9. Does your baby develop worse colic symptoms after a feed?
Babies with colic don’t tend to develop worse symptoms after a feed. If your baby is suffering from worse symptoms after feeding, they may have acid reflux and you should seek medical advice. Visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111.
Q10. Does your baby have a loud, high-pitched cry?
Babies with colic tend to have a loud, high-pitched cry. If your baby doesn’t, they may be suffering from mild wind, be under or over stimulated, require sleep or a nappy change, be hungry or constipated. If your baby is constipated and over 2 months old, try cool boiled water and add a teaspoon of fruit juice.