Signs of Colic – Infant 0 to 2 months of age
Every parent knows that babies cry. There is nothing as upsetting or frustrating as a crying infant who you cannot quiet. You have changed their diaper. You have fed and burped them. You have tried rocking, walking, running the vacuum cleaner, just about everything you can think of, and they are still crying.
Your baby may have colic. Colic is the term for persistent crying in babies that follows what can be called “the rule of three.” This means that a well-fed and otherwise healthy baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days per week, for at least three weeks. Somewhere between 5% and 25% of babies have colic according to this definition.
You know that babies cry because they are hungry or because they need their diaper changed. When they are very young, we often don’t know why they are crying. This is extremely frustrating to an already exhausted parent. If your baby is crying, you will be worried that there is something wrong with your baby. You will also be worried that neither your baby nor you are going to ever get any sleep or peace.
The average amount of crying for a baby is 2.2 hours a day during the first three months of life. The peak of normal crying occurs at about six weeks. After that, the baby will cry progressively less until about 4 months of age. Colic starts at about 2 weeks of age and is usually gone by 4 months of age. The difference between colic and normal crying is the length of time the baby cries, as well as the difficulty in soothing him or her. Babies with colic tend to cry most in the late afternoon or evening. They are often described as having high-pitched cries, red faces, balled-up fists, and knees tucked up into the chest. Some babies with colic arch their backs and may pass gas. Because of the gas and the position, people often think the baby is having a tummy ache.
If your baby is crying a lot, it is helpful to know what to look for that could indicate an illness. Repeated vomiting in babies needs to be investigated. Some amount of spitting up is normal, but vomiting, projectile or otherwise, is not normal. If your baby is vomiting, he or she needs to be seen by the doctor. Blood in the stool is also not normal. Crying associated with diarrhea and blood can mean that your baby cannot digest milk sugar. Babies should not have a fever or any other symptoms of a cold or flu. Their breathing should be normal. If you are not sure, take your baby to his or her doctor. The doctor will weigh and measure your baby, while looking them over thoroughly, checking for any problems. If all appears well, it is rarely necessary to perform any lab tests. Your doctor will probably say that your baby is healthy.
No one is absolutely sure what causes colic. It may be excessive mobility of the intestinal tract that causes discomfort for a baby. It may be neurodevelopmental, where babies cry more than other babies because their entire system has not matured yet and normal body functions cause them to cry. Colic follows the same course as normal crying, but there is more of it. It may be that colic is just the highest side of the range of crying in normal babies. If you remember the bell curve from school, babies with colic may simply be at the far right of that curve.
Whatever the reason, you still have a crying, colicky baby. You should see if your baby is hungry, and offer him or her breast milk (or a bottle). A baby less than two months old should not be fed anything else. You should also change your baby’s diaper when it is wet or soiled. Adn you can still try and comfort him or her as much as possible. While you may be exhausted and frustrated, you need to remember that babies grow out of colic. It is just a matter of time.