Colic is the persistent crying of a baby, usually between 2 weeks and 5 months old, without a known explanation. To diagnose this condition, pediatricians and family doctors commonly use the “Rule of Three”: a baby who cries for a total of 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for 3 weeks or more may be considered to be having a colic attack. Babies with a colic attack are inconsolable, and it is unfortunate that colic usually happens in the late afternoon or in the evening, when parents are already tired or stressed.
No one really knows what causes colic or how to treat and prevent it. Since all babies are different, the cause could be different for each child. Here are some of the possible causes and the common solutions to your baby’s colic attacks.
1. Wrong feeding technique. Baby may have taken in too much air during suckling, which eventually goes into the stomach. If you notice that baby’s tummy is bloated, with a loud drum-like sound when you tap it gently, this may be the case. The expansion of the stomach causes much pain, and so baby becomes fussy and irritable. He may stretch and stiffen his legs, and clench his fists. If not addressed, baby will cry inconsolably for a few hours. Sometimes, baby will manage by himself by raising his legs over his belly and give off a loud burp or fart, but sometimes, baby may need your help. You can either hold baby in your arms, across your chest, in the burping position, to allow baby to release gas. Another good position is placing baby between your knees, with his belly on one of your thighs, while rubbing his back with the heel of your hands. It is thought that burping frequently during feeding may prevent colic. Burp breasted babies every 5-10 minutes, and bottle-fed babies after each ounce of milk feeding.
2. Neurologic overload. This means that baby may be over-stimulated by an excess of emotions either from external or internal sources. External sources of stress could be negative feelings of anger between fighting parents, or jealousy or resentment from other siblings. It could also come from positive sources, like a noisy party at home. If you feel that over-stimulation may be the cause of your baby’s stress, it is a good idea to let your baby rest for a few minutes. Take him to a quiet room and rock him gently, and alow him to have a quiet nap.