How Do You Know If Your Baby Has Colic? Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions

A newborn baby is a source of joy and pride for many parents. Most parents spend the first few weeks watching over their little ones when they sleep.

The first two weeks are mostly peaceful as your baby sleeps, breastfeeds, and grows right before your eyes. The 3rd week in your newborn’s life might be when you first start noticing signs of colic in your baby.

While there are no exact solutions to a baby having colic, there are some ways you can tell if your baby is colicky. If your baby is crying for more than 3 hours a day, if he or she is curling up or becoming tense (possibly making a fist with their hands), or if they cry for long durations making their face red. Colic usually comes and goes for most babies. We’ll share some tips on how you can further provide relief for your little one.

It is baffling for new parents when their little one cries uncontrollably for several hours a day. Here’s what you need to know about colic.

What is Colic?

How do you know if your baby has colic? Colic is a behavioral change that causes children to cry and fuss for hours per day. The problem with colic is that it can last from two weeks to three months. The period in which colic lasts in a child will vary in different children. The condition happens to one in every five infants.

Colic is known to make parents feel helpless because it is hard to calm a colicky baby. It can deepen any postpartum depression for new mothers. Watching a child cry daily without reason is painful for a parent. It may not hurt physically, but over time parents begin to feel like they are not doing an excellent job of taking care of the newborn.

In most cases, a child can begin to cry in the middle of feeding or the middle of the night. Colic in infants can start in the middle of the night and last for hours. Unlike normal crying, colic makes a baby cry for no reason. All parents can do is to try and calm a child until the newborn is ready to settle down. 

What are the symptoms of colic?

There are three main symptoms for colic that are easy to spot.

Crying for more than three hours a day

Colicky baby crying a lot

The first symptom is inconsolable, crying for more than three hours a day. It is usual for a child to start crying when hungry or wet or sleepy. However, the crying stops once the needs of the child are met.

Colicky children tend to cry continuously for no good reason. Parents can try to calm down the child, but it doesn’t work. The prolonged crying happens three or more days per week for at least three consecutive weeks

Curling up or becomes tense

The second symptom is curling up or becomes tense. It may appear like your little one is in pain because of clutched fists.

Other times, the infant may attempt to pull up his or her feet, looking to relieve pain. It would be best if you observed how your little one behaves during the prolonged crying periods.

Your baby cries until their face is red

The third symptom is that your child may cry until their face turns red. A red face is an indication the baby has been crying for an extended duration.

It would help if you looked at the face of your child to see whether he or she is turning red due to pain. A child can close their eyes or open then widely whenever they feel colicky.

Other symptoms

Colicky baby not eating like before

Other symptoms include changes in the eating and sleeping habits of a child. It is common for colicky infants to reject breastfeeding or suckle for a short duration before drifting to sleep.

Another sign is that the child can experience digestive issues. You may notice an increase in bowel movements or passing gas.

What are the causes of colic?

There isn’t a concrete medical reason why infants experience colic, but several theories are to the cause. Most ideas revolve around the development of the newborn child. The theories assume that colic is a result of the intestinal growth of newborns. Knowing the possible causes of colic can assist better understand what your little one is going through and have a little patience. So, how do you do if your baby has colic?

  • Development of the digestive system: Children do not have a working digestive system when they are born. Colic can be aa result of the digestive system having a hard time digesting breast milk or baby formula. It may take a while for infants to adapt to the new feeding system, and the child can experience discomfort.
  • Acid Reflux: Infants can experience acid reflux, and the symptoms are similar to those of colic. It is common for parents to confuse colic and acid reflux in newborns because of the fussiness that comes with acid reflux. Other symptoms of acid reflux include throwing up milk after feeding sessions.
  • Hormones: The body of an infant releases hormones to deal with the new environment. The hormones can affect the digestive muscles of a newborn. It may take a few weeks for the baby to adjust to the changes. The change is only temporary until the baby can process breast milk or baby formula appropriately.
  • Lactose Intolerance: It is hard for parents to identify lactose intolerance in infants. Lactose intolerance can cause tummy aches in infants. You can ask the doctors to test your little one for lactose intolerance. Knowing that your child is lactose intolerant in advance can help you find a solution. 

What are the solutions for colic?

Colicky baby being comforted

Several possible methods can assist you to calm a colicky baby. You can try one of the following methods to see which one works for your little one. The solutions are not assured, and you may have to find a couple before you find one that works for you. 

Burping after feeding

It would be best if you burped your little one after feeding to prevent gas buildup in the tummy. Infants with lactose intolerance can have gas as a side effect.

Additionally, it would help if you used a fast-flow nipple for a bottle when feeding your infant. A fast-flow nipple prevents the little one from taking in a lot of air during breastfeeding.

Rocking your baby

The other method a lot of parents try is rocking a baby. You need to be careful when rocking a baby not to rock the baby too hard. Partners need to help each other rock a colicky baby.

Taking a break after a while gives you enough time to regain your composure. You can opt to massage the baby’s tummy to help with the development of the digestive system. 

Adjust what mommy is eating

Other less popular options include watching what you eat and changing the infant’s formula when you notice discomfort. Your current diet could be causing gas for both you and your baby when breastfeeding.

What you eat affects a baby when he or she is breastfeeding. Lactose intolerant babies can thrive on lactose-free baby formulas and experience reduced signs of colic.

When should you go to the doctor?

When to take your colicky baby to the doctor

Colic places many parents in a delicate situation because they feel helpless when it comes to your child. It would help if you visited a doctor when the crying and fussiness continues for more than three days consecutively.

If it happens for a few hours a few days a week, you can wait it out. However, when the baby doesn’t sleep well for days or the fussiness goes on for full days, you need to see a doctor. The doctor will help you find a suitable solution for the colicky baby. 

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We're a group of writers, mostly parents, some medically certified, who publish helpful articles for all stages of your child from newborn, infant, toddler, to a big kiddo.

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