‘Colic’ is a term used to describe a particular pattern of crying. Babies seem to suffer inconsolable misery and apparent pain, often drawing their knees up towards their stomachs, clenching their fists and screwing up their faces. The distinctive bouts of crying usually start around three to four weeks of age and peak at about six to eight weeks. Babies with colic cry for several hours at a stretch, often in the evenings. Sometimes the baby can be soothed for a short while, but the crying soon starts again, for no discernible reason. In every other respect, babies with colic are usually happy, healthy and developing normally.
Colic rarely lasts more than three months, though some babies show symptoms until they are about five months old.
Colic may be due to:
• An intestinal disturbance;
• The baby’s immature nervous system;
• Fluid from the stomach regurgitating into the oesophagus;
• Trapped air.
Many parents are convinced that their baby’s colic must be due to something they are, or are not, doing: this, simply, isn’t true. Unfortunately, however, whatever the cause of colic, very little seems to help.
You can try the following:
• Give your baby a warm bath;
• Swaddle them so they feel secure;
• Massage their feet;
• Let them suck a dummy;
• Use colic drops or gripe water;
• Give a sugar solution. (Dissolve three teaspoons of sugar into a cup of boiling water and leave to cool. Then use a teaspoon to dribble about 2ml into the side of your baby’s mouth.)
• Try cranial osteopathy from a qualified practitioner.
Your health visitor, or an NCT breastfeeding counsellor, may be able to give some useful suggestions. If nothing helps, get someone to take over during the crying bouts and remember, colic will cause no lasting harm to your baby.