2017-05-14 / Health

How first-time parents can cope with colic

First-time parents face many challenges upon bringing their new babies home. One of the more frustrating challenges new parents may face is colic, a confusing condition that can be uncomfortable for both parents and their babies.

What is colic?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, roughly 20 percent of all babies will develop colic, a condition in which children may cry inconsolably, scream, extend or pull up their legs, and pass gas. When a baby develops colic, the causes of which are unknown, his or her stomach may be enlarged or distended with gas.

What are the symptoms of colic?

Babies tend to be finicky, so those that are fussy are not necessarily dealing with colic. But when healthy babies who are well-fed experience the following symptoms, colic might be the culprit.

• Predictable periods of fussiness: Babies who have fussy periods each day during similar time frames may be experiencing colic. The AAP notes that these periods of fussiness are particularly common among babies with colic between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight.

• Intense or inconsolable crying: The Mayo Clinic says babies with colic may experience intense, high-pitched crying that sounds distressed. During these bouts of crying, babies’ faces may be flushed, and it may be nearly impossible for parents to console their babies.

• Inexplicable crying: Babies tend to cry when they are hungry and when they have soiled themselves. But babies with colic will cry for no apparent reason.

• Changes in posture: During a colic episode, babies’ legs may curl up and they may clench their fists. Abdominal muscles also may tighten during colic episodes.

When does colic begin?

Babies with colic will typically begin to exhibit symptoms within a few weeks of being born. While the condition is frustrating for parents and babies, colic often improves by three months of age.

How to handle a baby with colic

The AAP recommends that parents who suspect their baby has colic first consult their pediatricians to confirm that the baby’s crying is not linked to a serious medical condition. Once something more serious has been ruled out, parents can discuss multiple topics with their pediatricians:

• Nursing: Mothers who are nursing may try eliminating potentially irritating products, such as caffeine, onions and cabbage, from their diets.

• Formula: The AAP suggests parents discuss protein hydrolysate formulas with their pediatricians if food sensitivity is causing the discomfort.

• Pacifiers: Pacifiers may provide instant relief from colic to some babies, while others may refuse pacifiers outright.

More information about colic is available at www.healthychildren.org.

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