Family Life

Confronting Colic: What Parents Can Do

Taking care of a baby is no small task. Babies operate on their own schedules, forcing parents to consistently readjust when they eat, work, and of course, sleep. Various factors can make such adjustments especially tiring, and colic might be at the top of that list.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) notes that colic occurs when an otherwise healthy baby cries frequently for no apparent reason. All babies cry and fuss, and it’s important that parents do not misinterpret normal crying and fussing as colic. 

Colic is defined as crying for more than three hours per day, at least three days per week, for more than three weeks. Children who have colic also cry around the same time, and may turn bright red and cry as if they’re in pain. When crying, babies with colic may clench their fists or curl up their legs.

The AAFP notes that colic can start within a few weeks of a child’s birth. Symptoms are worst when a child is four-six weeks old, and many children outgrow it by four months of age.

While researchers have studied colic, there’s no definitive answer about what causes it. The AAFP notes that pain or discomfort from gas or indigestion may be a factor. When a baby cries, the child swallows air, which can give the baby gas that makes his or her belly feel tight. 

A digestive system that isn’t fully developed, overfeeding or underfeeding, sensitivity to breast milk or formula, overstimulation, early forms of childhood migraines, and emotional reactions to being afraid, frustrated or excited are some additional potential contributors to colic.

A colic treatment that alleviates one baby’s symptoms will not necessarily be effective for another’s. However, the AND notes that avoiding potential colic triggers may help parents as they try to treat their babies.

Colic can make for some difficult times for babies and their parents. Determining what may be causing colic and trying new ways to soothe babies can help both parents and their children.

Newsletter Signup

Your Weekly guide to Baton Rouge family fun. BR Parents has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up