Baby, Infant (3-6), Newborn (0-3m)

Colic in Babies: What is it and how long does it last?

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Colic is when your baby seems to be crying for no obvious reason and for what feels like forever. Doctors diagnose a colicky baby with the rule of 3; inconsolable crying that lasts for a minimum of 3 hours, for a minimum of 3 days per week for a minimum of 3 weeks in a row.

Mother calling to a doctor on phone worried about her baby with colic crying desperately at home.
text overlay: Colic in Babies What is it? and How long does it last? MotherMeCrazy.com

A Colicky baby will usually cry around the same time everyday for about the same amount of time. You may be thinking “this doesn’t seem too bad, my baby cries all the time!” But that is because I haven’t told you everything about colic yet, read on and you will see.

Symptoms of colic

Crying

The most obvious symptom is crying with the rule of 3 (defined above). This isn’t a normal cry and isn’t usually caused by the normal culprits; hunger, dirty diaper, or sleepiness. In fact, most babies suffering from colic seem to frantically search for the nipple, and as soon as they get it they push it away. They also wake up screaming again after just a few minutes of being asleep.

A colic cry is an inconsolable cry. You may find relief for a few minutes, but it will inevitably return. The crying will likely seem to be abdominal, but isn’t necessarily.

Upset faces

A colicky baby may make faces as if he is upset (probably because he is). He may close his eyes real tight and then open them real wide, sometimes on repeat. He may furrow his brow, and in some cases a baby with colic will hold their breath for short periods of time.

Increased Bowel Movements/Gas

Colic can cause babies to pass more gas and dirty more diapers, so be prepared to fill your garbage/Diaper Genie faster than expected. When gas comes out one end of a baby, chances are it’ll come out the other end too, so be prepared for more frequent spit up and burp more often.

More Movement

Along with all of these other symptoms, you will probably notice your baby moving quite a bit. While your baby would be learning how to use his arms and legs even if he didn’t have colic, it is more likely that he is trying to get comfortable and can’t. Flailing his arms, pulling his legs up and even continually clenching his fists may be signs of colic.

When to See a Doctor for Colic

If you suspect colic, you should take your baby to see a Doctor or other medical professional. You might be certain hat your baby has colic, but a medical professional may be able to find some other cause of the symptoms and provide your baby, and you, with some relief much sooner.

Mother calling to a doctor on phone worried about her baby with colic crying desperately at home

You can never be too sure when it comes to the health and safety of your baby! Better safe than sorry.

Causes of Colic

While doctors are not certain of what the exact cause is, they do know the following:

  • It is not caused by genetics
  • It has nothing to do with your parenting skills. Even the best of parents have colicky babies
  • Nothing you did or didn’t do during pregnancy/child birth would have caused your baby to have colic.
  • Colic is no ones fault.
Portrait of crying baby who has colic

Possible causes may include:

  • Over stimulation
  • Acid reflux during infancy
  • Food allergy or sensitivity
  • Immature digestive system
  • Excessive amounts of gas

How Long does Colic Last?

It may seem like there is no end, but I promise it will pass! Typically colic disappears one of two ways; all at once, or gradually over a month or so.

Generally colic gets diagnosed when the baby is 3 to 8 weeks old and subsides around 3 1/2 to 4 months. Hang in there, you’ve got this!

Relief from Colic

Providing any amount of relief for your colicky baby, can be mutually beneficial. Baby may stop crying long enough for a nap if he is comfortable enough. Here are some ways you can provide relief from colic:

Tired desperate parents holding their baby with colic crying desperately at home

Swaddle

Wrapping your baby tightly in a swaddle can mimic the safe comfortable feeling of being in the womb.

Wear your Baby

Have your baby close to moms chest, where he can hear her heartbeat, feel her skin and listen to her breathing. This will make him feel safe, warm, and remind him of the nine months he spent in the womb.

White Noise

You can use a white noise machine, soft music or nature sounds too softly lull your baby into a calming sleep.

Movement

Take him for a walk, car ride or simply rock him to sleep in place. Most babies find movement relaxing and peaceful.

Use a Pacifier

Babies use the action of sucking to fall asleep all the time. Which is why he always falls asleep while feeding. Often babies with colic crave the action but don’t want any food. A pacifier is the perfect solution.

My baby really likes Philips Avent Orthodontic Pacifiers, and they each come with their own plastic cover to keep it clean while not in use.

Tips for the Parents of a Baby with Colic

Take Turns

There is no need for both parents to be exhausted from taking care of the baby 24/7. Figure out a schedule that works for the two of you. For us, we traded nights/mornings. If I got up throughout the night, he would get up with the baby in the morning and let me sleep in. the next night he would get up at night and I would get up in the morning. It worked well, we both got enough sleep and baby got cuddle time with both of us. Throughout the day we would simply take turns changing diapers/feeding etc.

Get some sleep

While the other is taking care of baby you should be doing household tasks and getting some sleep. Be sure to turn the baby monitor off when your partner is with the baby. If the crying is still too much and you can’t sleep, try using ear plugs or listening to some music.

Woman sleeping with ear plugs so she can sleep through her baby crying because of colic

Communicate

Communication is the key to any relationship, but it is especially important during the tough times. Raising a baby with colic is not easy, and if you don’t talk to each other, things will fall out of balance really fast.

Ask for Help

This is going to be one of the most frustrating times in your child’s young life, and it is sure to put a strain on your relationship. If you are feeling down or just need help with something, the best thing you can do is ask for it. No one can read your mind but you, so be sure to let your partner in when needed.

It’s not you, I swear!

It is important that you know that this was not caused by anything you did or did not do. Some things just happen, and while it is unfortunate that it happened to your family, it will pass! Your family will make it through.

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