Colic / Crying Baby

What is colic?

Colic is a word used to describe the moments when your otherwise healthy baby cries excessively and cannot be soothed. This is the type of crying where your child is not consolable after you have made sure everything is okay including changing their diaper and feeding them well.  It may drive you as the parent to tears. It is exhausting to the mother as it occurs even when you are trying to rest or sleep.

What are the symptoms of colic?

  • All children cry, but to objectively describe this crying we use the number three(3). It occurs when your baby is below 3 months or thereabout, your baby may cry for more than three hours in a day and these episodes occur on  more than three days in a week.
  • Your baby will appear flushed when he/she cries
  • Your baby`s tummy will be rumbly or he/she may have wind
  • Your baby may appear to be pulling their legs, arching their back and clenching their fists as they cry

Should I take my baby to the doctor?

Yes, it is important to seek a professional medical  opinion to make sure there is no other cause for the crying.

What should I expect on my visit?  

  1. You will be asked to elaborate more about the moments, durations and timings when your baby cries. Carry a diary if you feel you may not be able to remember the details.
  2. You may take a video of your child during the episodes to allow the doctor to observe the exact behaviour and make a more informed diagnosis
  3. Have a record of your child`s feeds and timing.
  4. The doctor will examine your baby fully. Carry a changing bag as you will be required to completely undress him/her.
  5. Be ready to demonstrate how you breastfeed your baby and receive guidance on how you can improve this technique.
  6. Be ready to demonstrate how you burp your child and receive advice on various methods
  7. A colicky baby is usually a healthy baby. If your doctor picks up anything they would like to confirm from your history and their examination, they may send you to the laboratory for some tests or refer you to the specialist neonatology clinic.

When should I get worried and urgently take my baby (less than 3 months old) to the accident and emergency department?

  • Your baby has a weak, high pitched or abnormal sounding cry
  • Your child gets floppy when you pick them up
  • Your child refuses to breastfeed
  • Your child has a breathing problem
  • Your child develops a fever
  • Your child looks pale
  • You see blood in your child’s stool
  • Your child has fewer wet nappies than usual
  • Your child’s umbilical cord starts oozing or bleeding.

What causes my baby to cry so much?

Up to date experts do not know what causes colic in some babies and not others. You may read and get advice that may be conflicting from various sources including internet sites, social media sites , your mother-in-law and other mothers on various theories but do not give your child any concussion or over the counter remedy before you consult your paediatrician. Some research suggests that it is part of a child`s development of the digestive system that makes wind/gas an issue but this research is still ongoing.

How can I soothe my colicky baby?

Once your paediatrician has confirmed that all is well with your baby, there are a few methods that other mothers have found to soothe colicky babies. These may/ may not work for your child and may work on some days and not others. These include:-

  • Establish a pattern of feeding and settling in response to your child.
  • Avoid excessive stimulation such as noise, light and handling.
  • Calm your baby with skin-to-skin contact when you sense they are about to start crying
  • Massage your babies tummy to help the wind and stool
  • Try a warm bath
  • Burp your child correctly after every feed especially at night. Be patient each time.
  • Try rocking your baby gently
  • Sing to your baby or play any white noise that he/she may like
  • Use the correct techniques to breastfeed your baby that ensure he/she doesn’t swallow so much air. These may be taught to you at a well-baby clinic, outpatient clinic or by your paediatrician

Is colic harmful to my baby?

No. Infants with colic are well and thriving. Colic is more distressing to the carers ( mother, father, nanny, neighbours and other household members) than to the child. Always remember it will pass in a few weeks.

How can I cope with colic as a mother?

Take your child to the general outpatient clinic for confirmation and reassurance that nothing else is causing your child to cry. This information will relive you a great deal.

  1. Make sure you carry out your part by responsive feeding (above) , using the correct technique to breastfeed your baby at all times and burp your child properly.
  2. Remind yourself that your baby’s crying is NOT your fault and he/she won’t hurt him/herself. It does not in any way reflect on your parenting skills
  3. Remind yourself that it will pass. Just give it time
  4. Place your baby safely in a cot/Moses basket and give yourself timed 5 minutes as time out in a different   Practice deep breathing. ( Video link)
  5. If your partner/ mother-in-law or any other help is available take turns to soothe the baby. If you are alone try the suggested techniques above.
  6. When your baby is sleeping and calm, rest as a mother. This should include the daytime. Politely explain to any visitors you may have the issue. A majority of considerate relatives, friends and previous mothers will understand.
  7. Enjoy the good times you have with your baby and remember them during your time out.
  8. If you are still struggling with colic seek further support a counsellor.

Are there medications that I can use to ease my child`s colic?

Experts confirm that colic mixtures are of NO proven benefit. They are rarely indicated.

Should I wean my child to ease the colic?

Weaning from breastmilk has NO benefit. Maintain the 6 months exclusive breastfeeding schedule as recommended.

Formulae changes are usually not helpful unless there is proven cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance for those already on formulae.