Colic - learn more about your baby
What is colic? 3-month colic or infant colic?
It is colic when an infant - daily or almost daily and often at the same time of the day - cries inconsolably for several hours, typically the attacks occur at the same time, usually 1-2 times a day. Colic attacks typically start during the first 3-4 weeks of the child's life.
Is my baby in pain?
It is not believed that babies with colic have pain - neither from the neck, shoulders, back or elsewhere. It should also be ruled out that the baby does not suffer from hypersensitivity to milk protein or suffers from other allergy problems. So far, medical science is of the opinion that this is a healthy and fit child, where you cannot find a physical or psychological explanation for the child crying - but it does cry! Then you can talk about colic.
In connection with colic attacks, you often see that the child pulls its legs up under itself, tightens its stomach and cries. When you look at your child, it therefore looks as if the child has colic. Most people imagine that colic is about pain in the baby's stomach and intestinal system - but in fact there are no studies that document that babies who cry a lot have more air in their stomachs than babies who don't cry a lot.
The latest research indicates that children with colic cry because their nervous system is immature. They are more "sensitive". The children are therefore inconsolable. They find it more difficult to calm down when they are picked up and tried to be comforted by the parents. At the same time, they also quickly become overstimulated, which increases their crying.
Children with colic therefore often cry for longer periods of time and when they start crying, it takes longer to calm them down. They cry for a longer time because their nervous system and ability to self-regulate is immature. The consequence of this is that children with colic are very difficult for parents to comfort.
When does colic stop?
As the child's nervous system matures, the crying becomes less and less. The baby will often cry most towards the age of 2 months and the crying will often stop by itself when the child is around 3 months old.
Studies show that babies cry less when they are held or have close body contact with an adult. It will be able to help your child and the immaturity your child has, to be in close physical contact with you. Parents of a child with colic find that it can help to use e.g. a sling cradle, because the child feels safe and gets the feeling of being cradled, closeness and at the same time feeling enveloped.
See all our tips on how to help your baby with infant colic .
There may be other reasons why your baby is crying for a long time:
The baby has problems with the stomach, e.g. stomach ache, difficulty in digesting milk, immature intestinal system, forms extra air, has slimy faeces, is constipated or similar. There are a number of different possible measures that can be initiated in consultation with the doctor, e.g. reflexology, lactic acid bacteria, baby massage, laxative, sugar water, boiled water and the like.
Locking in neck and shoulders
A number of children get a twisting or locking in the neck and shoulders during birth. Some children also get tight neck muscles and tendons and this can hurt. A therapist such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor can help the child loosen up the tendons and muscles and mobilize the locked joints. Your own doctor can refer.
Reflux really just means the backflow of some stomach contents that slide up from the stomach, up through the esophagus and into the mouth. Basically, gurgling is completely natural in infants. If stomach acid flows from the stomach into the oesophagus, it can sting and hurt the child, and this can be an explanation for the child crying. It can sometimes be aggravated by the child lying down. Reflux can be treated or remedied e.g. by thickening the milk with carob kernel flour.
A milk allergy is usually only seen when the child starts getting milk other than mother's milk, but in single children, you will sometimes see a reaction to the mother's milk if the nursing mother drinks cow's milk.
If your baby has otitis media, it will often hurt when the baby lies down because the pressure in the ear increases. An ear doctor can see if your baby has otitis media and it can be treated.
Some babies cry a lot because they have a urinary tract infection and it hurts every time they pee. A urinary tract infection is investigated by taking a urine sample from the child and handing it in for examination by the doctor. You can buy a urine sample collection kit at the pharmacy.