What causes colic?

The exact cause of colic still eludes us all, but scientists have suggested that colic has multiple causes that are different for each baby. An article in Acta Paediatrica, a journal on pediatric medicine, identifies the following possible causes of colic: lactose intolerance or allergies, digestive problems, hormones, feeding difficulties, and psychological factors. However, in an article from WebMD.com, Dr. Harvey Karp, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, says, “It has long been thought that the main cause was due to gastrointestinal problems, but this may not always be true.” Pediatricians have also attributed colic to temperament, environment, and an immature immune system.”

What can you do?

  • Swaddling. Wrapping your baby snugly in a receiving blanket helps to mimic the warm confines of your womb, making him feel safe.
  • Side soothing. Laying your baby on his side shuts down his body’s Moro reflex to help keep him calm.
  • Sound. White noise (such as that created by a hairdryer, a car ride or a white noise machine/cd) helps to soothe your baby.
  • Swinging. Carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier as rhythmic movement help keep him calm.
  • Sucking. Keep your baby occupied with a dummy. Suckling on the breast or bottle also helps.

Could it be colic?

If your baby is otherwise healthy but cries inconsolably on a daily basis, he could have colic. Typically starting within a baby’s first four weeks of life and ending at around 16 weeks, colic is defined as “crying that lasts for at least three hours or more a day, for three days a week, for at least three weeks,” and can drive many a parent to tears of the desperation of their own. Bear in mind that doctors and experts believe that true colic is not as common as mothers believe and that if you experience these symptoms it is always best to have your baby checked out by your doctor for confirmation.

What are the symptoms?

  • A loud, intense, inconsolable cry that lasts for hours and usually starts in the late afternoon or early evening.
  • Your baby draws his knees up to his chest or arches his back.
  • Your baby’s stomach feels hard and appears swollen.
  • Your baby holds his breath or goes red in the face.

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