Colic and crying - self-care
If your baby cries for longer than 3 hours a day, your baby might have colic. Colic is not caused by another medical problem. Many babies go through a fussy period. Some cry more than others.
If you have a baby with colic, you are not alone. One in five babies cry enough that people call them colicky. Colic usually starts when babies are about 3 weeks old. It gets worse when they are between 4 and 6 weeks old. Most of the time, colicky babies get better after they are 6 weeks old, and are completely fine by the time they are 12 weeks old.
Infantile colic - self-care; Fussy baby - colic - self-care
Colic normally begins at about the same time every day. Babies with colic are usually fussier in the evenings.
Colic symptoms often begin suddenly. Your baby's hands may be in a fist. The legs may curl up and the belly may seem swollen. Crying may last for minutes to hours. Crying often calms down when your baby is tired or when gas or stool is passed.
Even though colicky babies look like they have belly pain, they eat well and gain weight normally.
Possible Causes of Colic
Causes of colic may include any of the following:
People around the baby may also seem worried, anxious, or depressed.
Often the exact cause of colic is unknown.
Seeing Your Baby's Health Care Provider
Your baby's health care provider can often diagnose colic by asking you about the baby's medical history, symptoms, and how long the crying lasts. The provider will perform a physical exam and may do some tests to check your baby.
Avoiding Your Baby's Triggers
Foods that are passed through your breast milk to your baby may trigger colic. If your baby is colicky and you are breastfeeding, avoid eating or drinking the following foods for a few weeks to see if that helps.
Some breastfeeding moms avoid eating broccoli, cabbage, beans, and other gas-producing foods. But research has not shown that these foods can have a negative effect on your baby.
Other possible triggers include:
Talk to a lactation consultant to learn more about the possible causes related to breastfeeding.
Comforting Your Baby
What comforts one baby may not calm another. And what calms your baby during one episode may not work for the next. But try different techniques and revisit what seems to help, even if it only helps a little.
If you breastfeed:
Sometimes it can be really hard to stop your baby from crying. Here are techniques you may want to try:
Colic Always Goes Away
Your baby will most likely outgrow colic by 3 to 4 months of age. There are usually no complications from colic.
Parents can get really stressed when a baby cries a lot. Know when you have reached your limit and ask family members or friends to help. If you feel like you may shake or hurt your baby, get help right away.
When to Call the Doctor
Call the provider if your baby is:
You need to make sure that your baby does not have any serious medical problems.
Call your baby's provider right away if:
Get help right away for yourself if you feel overwhelmed or have thoughts of harming your baby.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthychildren.org website. Colic relief tips for parents. www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Colic.aspx. Updated June 24, 2015. Accessed July 23, 2019.
Onigbanjo MT, Feigelman S. The first year. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 22.
Review Date: 7/3/2019
Reviewed By: Liora C. Adler, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Hollywood, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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