What is Infant Colic?
Colic in babies, otherwise known as infant colic, is defined as episodes of crying that may last for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week. Often, the crying occurs in the late afternoon or evening. When a child is otherwise healthy, they aren’t hungry, they don’t need to be changed, etc. yet they still cry, this can be a sign of colic.
The cause of colic is unknown – it is not a disease nor a ‘condition’, more a combination of behaviours. And it can be frustrating and upsetting for both baby and parents. Possible reasons for babies getting colic include trapped wind and other gastrointestinal discomforts, although none of these are proven. While it is a very common thing in babies, the causes of infant colic are still ever much a mystery.
There are some theories around the reasons babies get colic, but none of them include genetics or anything that occurred during pregnancy. One reason that has been explored is over-stimulated senses, with babies becoming overwhelmed by the stimuli in their surroundings and experiencing a form of stress. To release that stress, they cry. Another possible explanation is their immature digestive system, leading to food passing through their bodies too quickly, resulting in pain from gas. Acid reflux is another potential trigger for colic in babies, as are food allergies.
Aside from crying, your baby’s body language can be an indication of whether they are suffering from colic. You may find they clench their fists, pull their legs up or move their arms and legs more in general. You may also notice a furrowed brow and an increase in bowel activity, and wind.
If your baby is suffering from colic, don’t despair – there’s no denying it may be a very difficult time for you and your little one, but the good news is infant colic has a lifespan. Typically, it will peak at around six weeks and generally start to become less of a problem by the time your baby reaches 10 to 12 weeks. In most cases, you’ll see the back of colic by roughly four months of age.