A baby with colic is often described as inconsolable and difficult to soothe, appearing to have ‘gas’ or ‘abdominal pain’. A long-standing definition, called the Wessel criteria outlines that if a baby is in the first three months of life, cries for at least three hours a day and does so for at least three days a week, and for more than three weeks, they may be suffering from colic. This rule of "threes" can help you make a reasonable assessment. In otherwise healthy babies, the duration of crying gradually increases from birth to 6 weeks, reaching an average of 3 hours per day. It then decreases appreciably at 3-4 months of age.
The cause of colic is unknown.
If your baby suffers from colic, try the following tips for colic relief:
- Keep a diary of symptoms to share with your doctor.
- Take your baby to a doctor for a thorough exam to rule out other possible causes for the excessive crying of your baby.
- Take your baby in your arms and rock him/her.
- Speak to him/her softly, sing a lullaby, or have him/her listen to soft music.
- Wrap him/her in a dryer-warmed blanket.
- Place him/her on you, face down, and pat or rub his/her back.
- Give him/her a bath.
- Walk him/her around in your arms, in a baby carrier, or in a stroller.
- Take him/her for a ride in your care.
- The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) may help soothe crying in babies with colic. It’s available as a probiotic supplement and in some infant formulas.
- Always speak to your doctor before making any changes to what you feed your baby
Colic can take a toll on the entire family, so it's vital to support one another. Take turns comforting the baby while others take breaks away from the crying. If your baby remains inconsolable and you feel frustrated or angry, remember that your top most concern has to be your baby's safety. Place your baby safely in his crib and leave the room. Check on the baby every 10-15 minutes to make sure he is safe, and reassure him by your presence. Talk to family and friends about their coping strategies, and should you find yourself unable to cope, contact a healthcare professional or a mutual help group immediately for additional support.
- Never shake your baby. This can lead to severe injuries in the brain.
- Consult your doctor before you give your baby any medication for colic relief.
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