You have spent the first few weeks of your little one’s life getting to know him or her. You may be able to recognize the differences in their little cries, may be starting to get your baby on a schedule and are probably getting used to feeding your little one every few hours. If your baby starts suddenly crying and fussing for hours a day, you may have wondered what happened to the sweet little one you’ve been caring for. If this is the case, your baby may have colic.

What is Colic?

Approximately one out of every five babies has colic. Colic is a condition that is marked by hours of crying or fussing in healthy babies. It usually begins when babies are three to four weeks old and worsens between six and eight weeks of age. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever. Most cases of colic resolve between three and four months.

How to Know if Your Baby Has Colic

Some babies are just naturally more fussy than others, so it can be difficult to know from crying alone if your little one has colic. It is generally diagnosed using the “Rule of Threes:” babies with colic cry more than three hours a day and at least three times a week for more than three weeks.

Common symptoms of colic include:

  • Intense prolonged crying. Your little one may begin crying and will be inconsolable. He or she may cry so hard they turn red. It typically happens around the same time each day and typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening. Colic bouts can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
  • Sleeping difficulties. Your little one may sleep irregularly and may awaken crying.
  • Changed posture. Your baby may scream with his or her fists clenched, their back arched with drawn-up knees and tight stomach muscles.
  • More gassy than usual.
  • Feeding difficulties. Your little one may stop eating to cry before going back to eating.

Causes of Colic

Many people think that colic is caused by excess gas as babies with colic have more gas than normal. This excess gas is actually the result of your little one swallowing air while crying due to colic. Though it can be painful for your baby, it isn’t the root cause of the condition. 

The exact cause of colic is not known. Some researchers believe it could be due to overstimulation, food allergies, proteins in the mother’s milk from eating dairy and feeding the baby too quickly. Mothers who smoked during pregnancy are twice as likely to have a baby with colic compared with those who didn’t.

Tips for Caring for Your Colicky Baby

Though it’s probably a relief to know that your little one won’t be screaming forever, use these tips to help save your sanity while your little one grows out of it.

  • If you are a breastfeeding mom, try cutting dairy out of your diet as the milk proteins may irritate your little one.
  • Try giving your baby lactase drops. These drops can help your little one break down the lactose in milk.
  • Wrap your little one firmly in a swaddling blanket.
  • Frequently burp your little one during feedings.
  • Sit your baby upright during feedings.
  • Hold your baby in the “football hold,” which puts a little pressure on their stomach and may be comforting.
  • Limit stimulation with dim lights and a quiet atmosphere.

Caring for Yourself

If your little one has colic, it’s important to exercise extra self-care for yourself. It is difficult to have a colicky baby and caring for babies with the condition can be exhausting. Ask family and friends to come help during the evening hours when your little one is fussy so that you can take a break. Reaching out to others isn’t selfish and can help you better care for your baby.

Having a baby with colic increases the risk of stopping breastfeeding before you’ve reached your nursing goals. In order to minimize this risk, get a breast pump in order to store excess breast milk for others to use to feed your little one when you are exhausted. Ameda Direct can help you get a breast pump at no cost to you through your insurance.