Infant colic may well be one of the most disconcerting problems of childhood. Despite over 50 years of research, the cause of colic remains unclear. An otherwise healthy baby will cry for hours upon end; ‘colic’ being an acronym for “Cause Obscure Lengthy Infant Crying”. Crying typically occurs in the evenings, episodes starting in the first weeks of life and usually ending at 4-5 months of age.
Initially, it is important to see your doctor to rule out any underlying problem or condition. Losing weight, vomiting and abnormal stools are not signs of colic and must be investigated. Possible causes of colic are; allergy or intolerance (though breastfed babies get colic too), an immature gut, swallowing air while crying, smoking in the house, and under- or over-stimulation of the infant.
Treatments for colic include:
- Efforts to soothe your baby; lots of cuddles, gentle rocking, walking or taking for a drive, warm baths, distraction techniques.
- Some parents find that changing the formula milk can help (see a Paediatric Dietitian for advice).
- Some find that changing the teat on the bottle may also help.
- If breastfed, changing mum’s diet may also provide some relief. A Paediatric Dietitian can also help with this.
- Smaller feeds more frequently and regular winding is recommended.
- Colic drops, gripe water, and Lactobacillus reuteri probiotics have been found to be of benefit for some.
- Prescription medication is not recommended due to possible side-effects.
Although colic often takes a toll on the whole family, it doesn’t appear to have any long-lasting medical consequences. Babies who have colic grow and develop normally.