There are few things more nerve wracking than a crying baby, particularly when nothing you do seems to console him. But, how do you know when your baby’s symptoms have are just crying and when he has colic? And, just what is colic, anyway?
No one knows exactly what causes colic, though many old wives tales abound. Lots of older women will tell you that it is caused by parental inexperience, but colic does not occur more often in first children than in subsequent children, so they One thing that seems clear is that most babies who are experiencing colic have a stomach ache. Many are gassy, though a baby won’t cry so inconsolably every time he has gas, so it is clearly gas plus something, though just what is not clear.
Though we don’t know what colic really is, it is hard to miss when your child is experiencing it. The inconsolable crying usually begins in the late afternoon or early evening and often lasts until the baby finally falls asleep for the night, exhausted. Colic typically begins between two and three weeks of age, and is over its worst by twelve to sixteen weeks, though there are babies who start later and end later. My daughter started at twelve weeks, but thankfully her bout of colic was over in two weeks. A colicky baby will typically draw his knees up to his chest, clench his fists and scream. He may act like he wants the breast or bottle, but reject it as soon as you it’s in his mouth. You will get the sense that your child is frantic, and needs something very badly, but doesn’t know what.
If you believe your baby has colic, it is still wise to take him to a doctor. There is no cure for colic, but you should rule out other causes, such as an allergy to formula or some other gastric disorder. Once your doctor has proclaimed the baby healthy, you can chalk it up to colic.
Once you know that your baby has colic, though there is no cure, there are some remedies you can try. Simethicone drops, which are available over the counter as a gas medication for babies, helps in some cases. In addition, there are numerous tricks you can try such as taking a drive in the car or running the vacuum cleaner that will work for some babies some of the time. But, overall, colic is just a waiting game. Keep the baby (and yourself) as calm as possible and look forward to the day when it will be over.