The condition known as infant colic is defined by an infant’s uncontrollable and often unexplained crying that can last for more than 3 hours per day, during at least three days per week for more than three weeks. Many colicky babies are known to become especially fussy at the end of the day, though it’s know to happen at any time of the day.
Colic generally starts a few weeks after birth. It’s known to go away by the time an infant reaches three months old, though it’s known to last longer. Babies that are known to experience colic long after they reach three months of age may have a reflux disorder and likely need medical intervention to formulate a proper diagnosis.
Although colic is known to not to affect babies on a long term basis, some parents may feel guilt for the condition affecting their child. Parents, especially new parents, should understand that they didn’t cause their child to experience colic, as it’s a condition that can occur suddenly and without reason in an infant.
It also generally goes away as soon as an infant reaches three months old; by the time they’re six months old, it’s usually completely gone. Parents have several treatment options to relieve colic symptoms in their child, both natural and medication-based treatments.
Why are babies colicky?
At least twenty percent of babies become colicky babies a few weeks after birth. The condition isn’t ‘conditional’ in just one type of colicky baby, either. It affects both genders, first and later-born children and even babies fed formula or breast milk.
There’s no known reason explaining why the condition can make some babies more prone to it over others, though the medical community does have theories that can explain why. Despite that, colic has no known concrete cause.
One of the best known causes behind colic relates to the development of an infant’s digestive system. The digestive tract of a newborn is known to contain little of the enzymes and digestive juices that help break down foods, making the processing of proteins found in milk and formula to become painful and gassy for infants.
The crying associated with colic can also cause a baby to swallow a lot of air, which can eventually lead to them experiencing bouts of infant gas. When a baby gets colic symptoms due to their gastrointestinal troubles, their symptoms might become worse after a bowel movement or feeding.
Long episodes of colicky crying might be a release for stressed babies, especially if they experienced a difficult birth or are more sensitive than other babies. These babies essentially get overwhelmed by the sights, sensations and sounds around them, leading to the characteristic crying found in babies with colic.
Babies who were exposed to prenatal smoking might be at a higher risk of developing colic than babies who weren’t. In fact, babies who were exposed to prenatal smoking were found to be twice as likely to develop colic in comparison to those who weren’t.
Parents who suspect their child of having colic should take them to the doctor to learn more about their colic-related symptoms. Oftentimes, getting a medical diagnosis can help a parent understand what treatment option to use with their child.
Doctors can help pinpoint the best course of action for a child with colic, especially when it comes to finding a treatment option that’s most effective. They usually perform a physical exam to check if there’s a cause to the baby’s distress; if nothing is found, they diagnose the otherwise healthy child with colic.
Babies that experience other symptoms like fever or vomiting might have another underlying condition and will need to immediately see their doctor.