Colic (also known as infantile colic) is a condition whereby an otherwise healthy baby cries or displays symptoms of discomfort (cramping, moaning, etc.) frequently and for extended periods, without any reason.
The condition appears within the first month of life and often disappears suddenly, before the baby is three to four months old, but can last up to 12 months. Research concludes that the chances of having colic is lower in breastfed babies.
Chocolate, Brassicas, Onions, and cow’s milk are among the foods that a lactating mother should avoid, so that their elements are not passed to the feeding baby in breastmilk.
The crying often increases during a specific period of the day, particularly the early evening. Symptoms may worsen soon after feeding, especially in babies that do not ‘wind’ easily.
The strict medical definition of colic is a condition of a healthy baby in which it shows periods of intense, unexplained fussing/crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks. However, many doctors consider that definition, first described by Morris Wessel, to be overly narrow and would consider babies with sudden, severe, unexplained crying lasting less than 3 hours/day as having “colic” (so-called “non-Wessel’s” colic). In reality, this extreme version of colic is more likely to be the final stage of a condition that has worsened for a few weeks.
Persistent infant crying is much more than a nuisance. Crying and the exhaustion associated with it can trigger serious problems, such as parent relationship stress, breastfeeding failure, postpartum depression (affecting 10–15% of new mothers and many new dads) and unnecessary treatment for acid reflux.
There is evidence showing that colic symptoms can be eased through soothing measures, such as pacifiers, strong white noise and rocking are effective in calming babies during crying bouts.
These techniques form the core of the “5 S’s” approach:
- Swaddling (safe swaddling carefully avoiding overheating, covering the head, using bulky or loose blankets, and allowing the hips to be flexed;
- Side or stomach (holding a baby on the back is the only safe position for sleep, but it is the worst position for calming a fussy baby;)
- Shhh sound (making a strong shush sound near the baby’s ear or using a CD of womb sound/white noise);
- Swinging the baby with tiny jiggly movements (no more than 1″ back and forth) always supporting the head and neck;
- Sucking (Letting the baby suckle on the breast, a clean finger or a dummy)