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Colic describes frequent, intense, and extended periods of crying in infants who are otherwise healthy. A baby who exhibits these symptoms is known as a “colicky” baby. Crying is very common for newborn babies. Colic is defined as crying for three or more hours a day, for three or more days a week, over three or more weeks. The symptoms of colic usually begin to occur when a baby is about 2-6 weeks old, and will often go away around 3-4 months of age.
- Body tension (such as clenched fists, an arched back, stiff legs, and a tense abdomen)
- Intense crying
- Facial discoloration, and grimacing
- Concentrated timing of crying (episodes usually occur in the evening)
- Passing gas (commonly caused by an excessive intake of air during crying)
There is no common cause of colic. Babies will often cry to have their diaper changed or to tell a parent that they are hungry, but episodes of colic often occur without this need. Colicky babies will also continue to cry and fuss even after they are changed or fed. Because of this, colic can be frustrating for parents, as there is no defined reason for the episodes of intense crying.
Colic occurs in roughly 1 in 10 babies. It appears equally in both baby boys and baby girls. While the condition does not cause any complications or lead to any health risks, it can be stressful and emotionally draining for parents. In some cases, colic may signify the presence of an underlying health condition, such as food intolerances, digestive problems, migraines, or poor nutrition. If your child is experiencing extensive bouts of intense crying, talk to your doctor. In many cases, colic will go away on its own. However, it is important to have the health of your baby checked to ensure that these symptoms are not being caused by any medical issues.
Below is a list of common treatment options for colic. During your appointment, discuss these with your doctor to determine the right treatment plan for you.