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Colic in Babies

15th Nov 2013

Evening wakefulness and crying can be the result of colic. Colic is a word broadly used for stomach pain and effects up to 40% of babies who are otherwise healthy and well fed. The main symptom is continued crying, which will not respond to any method of comfort.


A baby who is going to have colic almost always starts in the first three weeks after birth and finishes by three months old. It has traditionally been known as “evening colic” as the trouble often occurs exclusively during a particular period of the early evening.


Your baby may have colic if she or he cannot settle down after a late afternoon or early evening feed.  She or he either screams as soon as she has finished feeding, or goes to sleep but wakes screaming within an hour. A baby will also draw her knees up to her stomach and will seem to have a tummy ache.  Nothing will console her for more than a few minutes. For example, you pick her up and she stops crying, but you cuddle her and she starts again. You manage to wind her, she burps, but she cries again. She sucks furiously for a few moments if you try to feed her, but she then cries some more and will not feed. You lie her across your knee on her tummy which relaxes her for a few minutes, but then she struggles and screams.


The most acute “attacks” of colic are spasmodic and in between your baby may be shaky and sobbing. The whole episode may last up to three hours. The same pattern repeats itself every evening until it stops altogether as suddenly as it began.


There is very little you can do for a baby suffering from colic which makes it one of the most difficult things for new parents to cope with. The cause is unknown. Although you cannot cure these attacks you cannot leave him to suffer them alone and he will need all your time and attention while they last. Therefore, concentrate on organising life so you are fee to cope with this difficult time with the least possible stress. Remember that your baby is physically perfect but he or she is still very immature and his nervous system and digestion are showing signs of their immaturity in this particular way.

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