CHKD Parenting: The colicky baby

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by 13News and CHKD

WVEC.com

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 6 at 1:40 PM

NORFOLK-Colic is a term used to describe uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby.  

If your baby is younger than 5 months and cries for more than three hours in a row on three or more days a week for at least three weeks, chances are he or she is colicky.

Dr. Carol Steiner, CHKD Pediatrician, Nansemond Pediatrics, has more information on that.

Tip 1: What is Colic and how will a parent know if they have a colicky baby?
• Colic isn't a disease and won't cause your baby any long-term harm, but it's a tough thing to go through for both babies and their parents.
• Colic most often shows up when a baby is around 2 or 3 weeks old (or two or three weeks after the baby's due date, if he's a preemie).
• While babies normally cry when they're wet or hungry or frightened or tired, a baby with colic cries inconsolably and excessively, often at the same time of day, frequently in the late afternoon or evening.
• If your baby has colic, his belly may look enlarged. You may notice that he alternately extends or pulls up his legs and passes gas as he cries.

Tip 2: Why do some infants get colic?
• Colic is one of the great mysteries of baby life. About 20 percent of babies become colicky.
• The condition is equally common among firstborn and later-born, boys and girls, breastfed and formula-fed. No one knows why some babies are more prone to it than others.
• Your baby may have colic because his digestive system is a bit immature or sensitive.
• A newborn's digestive tract contains very few of the enzymes and digestive juices needed to break down food, so processing the proteins in breast milk or formula can lead to painful gas.
• The act of screaming itself can cause your baby to swallow a lot of air and that, too, leads to gassiness. If your baby has colic because of tummy trouble, you may notice that his symptoms get worse after a feeding or before a bowel movement.

Tip 3: What can parents do?
• Thankfully, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Colic tends to peak around 6 weeks, then improves significantly between 3 and 4 months. By 5 months, your baby should be over it.
• Colicky babies may spit up from time to time, but if your baby is actually vomiting and/or losing weight, call the doctor. (Vomiting is a forceful throwing up of stomach contents through the mouth, whereas spitting up is an easy flow of stomach contents out of the mouth.) Vomiting repeatedly is not a sign of colic.

Dr. Karp's book "Happiest Baby on the Block" has excellent methods to help calm and soothe infants. Parents can buy the book or CD or get them on loan from the local library.

Caring for a colicky baby can be very stressful and you need to take regular breaks to maintain your own well-being. It’s important that parents learn how to comfort your baby as best you can and ask for help when you need it. Have your mate or a friend or relative take over while you go for a walk or let loose with a good cry yourself when you need to.

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