Soothing a Baby With Colic

| Posted On Jul 27, 2022 | By:

Being a new parent can be challenging, especially if your baby experiences colic. Colic is characterized by frequent and prolonged episodes of crying with no apparent cause. These episodes can occur in infants of any age, but symptoms typically peak at six weeks and become less frequent after three to four months. Colic is more common at night, which can lead to frustration, exhaustion, and stress in parents.

Although episodes of colic can be anxiety-provoking for parents, it’s important to remember that your child is healthy, and the condition is common – about one in four babies have colic.

Signs & Symptoms

Colic is not regular fussiness. Every child becomes fussy from time to time, especially as new parents learn their baby’s wants and needs. If your baby cries more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week during a three-week period, it’s likely colic.

Colic episodes are also characterized by high-pitched crying and screaming that begins suddenly. Babies with colic are difficult to soothe with traditional methods. During episodes, they may also stiffen their arms and legs, arch their backs, and clench their fists.

To help you determine if your baby has colic, check your baby’s diaper, temperature, and ensure they are comfortable in their environment. You can also try to feed them and put them down to sleep. These steps can help you rule out other reasons your baby could be crying.

The following symptoms are not due to colic, and you should call your doctor if your baby:

Diagnosis & Treatment of Colic

The first step to diagnosing colic is to talk to your child’s provider about their symptoms to rule out other, more serious illnesses. Your provider will likely ask about your baby’s eating habits, allergies, and daily routine.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for colic. However, there are strategies that parents can use to calm their child during a colic episode.

Causes & Prevention

There is no clear cause of colic, but some providers suspect that indigestion may trigger these episodes. Other potential causes include sensitivity to light and noise, a developing nervous system, fear or excitement, or an early form of childhood migraine.

One theory suggests that colic might be caused by an infant swallowing air during feedings. Parents should pay close attention to the position of their baby’s body and mouth when feeding and burping the baby after they eat.

While every baby is different, there are a few things parents can do to lessen the chances of a baby developing colic:

It can be stressful for any parent when their baby experiences colic, but with patience and soothing techniques, you can help ease their symptoms. Your Atrius Health provider is here to help if your infant experiences constant colic symptoms or their symptoms worsen.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Dr. Elizabeth Bigus

Dr. Elizabeth Bigus joined Atrius Health in 2021 and is a board-certified pediatrician at our Harvard Vanguard Burlington location. She attended medical school at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando. She completed both her internship and residency at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Dr. Bigus’ clinical interests include newborn care and obesity prevention and management.