Infants cry on average 1.5 hours per day. Crying is simply the only way a baby can communicate with its caregiver. Through crying, a baby lets us know if it is in need of food, sleep, a nappy change or perhaps just a cuddle. At times it can still be difficult to guess what your baby is trying to tell you.
If a child has episodes of crying that last more than 3 hours per day every week, it can be a sign of infantile colic. Colic induced crying can be extremely uncomfortable for both parent and child. The parent’s patience will be seriously tested and many can feel a sense of powerlessness. If your child suffers with colic, it is also rare for a parent to get a good night’s sleep, as crying often occurs in the evening.
Diagnosing Colic in infants
Colic isn’t classified as an illness but rather a condition. It is advisable to consult a doctor, who will be able to rule out any other underlying illnesses that could potentially be causing the persistent crying. If Colic is confirmed as the cause, it doesn’t require any medical treatment as such. During the consultation with your doctor you may be asked if your child has trouble with continued crying, if your child pulls their legs up and contracts their stomach, if the episodes of crying tend to happen at all times of the day and other similar questions.
There can be plenty of reasons that an infant develops Colic. Some of the most commonly cited are gastrointestinal problems, sometimes caused by issues with digesting cow’s milk protein if the child is formula fed. However, as only 1-2% of colic cases are said to be in formula fed babies, it is impossible to generalise and state that these children are more prone to developing the condition. It’s hard to collect precise numbers of Colic sufferers, due to it being so hard to diagnose. However, medical professionals in Europe estimate that between 15 -40% of all infants have the condition.
How is Colic treated?
There are several methods available for parents to help relieve the pain of Colic in infants:
Swaddle the baby
It feels natural for your baby to be swaddled and rocked. It reminds the baby of the rocking movement it experienced inside the womb. It is therefore recommended for children suffering with Colic, to sleep in baby hammocks, as it helps most infants become calm.
It is possible to unlock the child’s clenching, by putting gentle pressure on their fingertips. This method can also be supplemented with reflexology, which focuses on the child’s feet by stimulating parts of the foot that represent areas of the body.
It’s immensely important for your child to feed until they are completely full. If your baby doesn’t “empty the breast”, it will receive mainly the watery milk that flows at the beginning of the feed rather than the more fatty and less sugary milk that follows later. Because the thinner milk contains more lactose, it can cause the child to feel bloated, thereby perhaps causing Colic.
Following the above advice can help ease symptoms if Colic is suspected. Do bear in mind that the crying won’t last forever, and once your child reaches 3 months of age, the worst of the tears caused by Colic will be over.