You may have heard the term colic applied to any baby whocries a great deal. Not all crying babies have colic, but all colicky babiescry ¾and they cry hard. They may stiffen their little bodies, or curl up as if inpain. They may cry so hard that they don’t seem like they even know you arethere. When babies cry like this, they take in a lot of air, which creates gas andmore pain, which makes them cry even more.
Researchers arestill unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic isrelated to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Others theorize that ababy’s immature nervous system and inability to handle the constant sensorystimulation that surrounds her cause a breakdown by the end of the day, whencolic most often occurs.
Dr. Harvey Karp, in his book The Happiest Baby on theBlock (Bantam Books, 2002) introduced a new theory. He believes that babiesare born three months too early, and that some babies find their new world toodifficult to handle. They yearn for the comforting conditions that occurred inthe womb.
Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all thetheories; colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of newbabies face. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to fivemonths of age. Symptoms include:
- A regular period of nonstop, inconsolable crying, typically late in the day
- Crying bouts that last one to three hours or more
- A healthy and happy disposition at all other times of the day
Cancolic be prevented?
Given that we aren’t sure what causes colic, we don’t knowif it can be prevented. Even if you do everything “right” and take all thesteps to discourage colic, it still may happen. If you think your baby hascolic, talk with your pediatrician and take your baby in for a checkup to ruleout any medical cause for your baby’s crying. If your baby is given a cleanbill of health, then you’ll know colic is the culprit in the daily cryingbouts.
Since colic occurs in newborns, parents often feel that theyare doing something wrong to create the situation. Their vulnerability and lackof experience puts them in the position of questioning their own ability totake care of their baby. Hearing your baby cry with colic, and not knowing whyit’s happening or what to do about it is painful for you; I know this becauseone of my four children suffered with colic. Although many years have passedsince then (Angela is now 15), I remember it vividly. Hearing my baby cry nightafter night and not knowing how to help her was gut wrenching, heartbreaking,and frustrating. The most important piece of research I discovered was this: It’snot your fault. Any baby can have colic.
This article isan excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by