What is colic?

Does your baby cry or fuss for long periods of time? Are you having little luck figuring out what has upset them?

You are not alone, and this behaviour does have a name. Colic.

Colic is crying and fussing that happens a lot or lasts for a long period of time. It usually starts when your baby is a few days or weeks old.

Babies with colic spend long periods of time unsettled and may look like they are in pain, but this kind of crying is not caused by pain.

It is very difficult to settle or comfort a baby when they are in this state. While the cause of colic is unknown, it generally stops after a few weeks. So, what are the signs and symptoms your baby might be colicky?

The symptoms

  • Frowning and grimacing.
  • Reddening of the face.
  • Your baby may pull its legs up, suggesting tummy pains.
  • Loud and long screaming.
  • Tummy rumblings.
  • Crying that lasts for hours.
  • Your baby passes wind or poos around the time they stop crying.

It is best that if your baby is unsettled and you suspect colic that you check in with a doctor to make sure there are no health problems causing the discomfort. Your doctor or child health nurse will be able to provide you with advice and coping strategies for these times.

How can you help?
Even though it is difficult to console a baby with colic, by holding or stroking your baby, they are learning that you are there for them even if you are unable to calm them down.

Some suggested ideas that may help you calm you baby are:

  • Respond quickly if your baby is crying, it may mean they cry less later.
  • Crying babies tend to arch their backs and stiffen their legs. Holding them in a curled position helps to calm them down.
  • Patting your baby gently on their back or bottom.
  • Soft lighting.
  • Soft music or noise that has a beat or rhythm.
  • Take your baby for a walk in a pram or a ride in the car.

Remember, it is OK to ask for help during these difficult times as there is nothing more upsetting than seeing your child upset and being unable to help them.

Ask for a friend or family member to take over and give yourself a moment to walk around the block or do some meditation.  

If you need more support, talk to your GP, call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

- Information sourced from www.raisingchildren.net.au and www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
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