Infantile colic, also known as 'newborn colic', is a condition that may be affecting your baby. It is characterised by paroxysmal crying and sometimes vomiting. This is a phenomenon in which a 2 to 3-month-old baby suddenly cries loudly even though there are no obvious sources of pain. When these cries occur at least 3 times a day for at least 3 hours per week, it is defined as 'infantile colic’ or ‘baby colic'.
Tip: Colic usually happens in the evening or early morning! In infants under 4 months of age, it can occur at any time of the day, but the symptoms are usually in the evening or early in the morning, with periods of crying and irritation for no obvious reason.
Why does infantile colic happen?
The exact cause of infantile colic is still unknown. There are opinions that this is because the child's digestive system is immature, but the exact cause is unknown. If your child overeats or swallows a lot of air while breastfeeding, infantile colic may occur. Most children get better with time.
I want to know whether my baby is experiencing infant colic.
1) Does your baby, who otherwise eats and plays well during the day, have a hard time in the afternoon?
2) Is their crying excessively intense and difficult to soothe?
3) Does your child assume a squat position, with clenched fists, a shriveled face, and legs bent toward the stomach? If the above symptoms appear during a period of crying and irritation, your baby might be experiencing infantile colic. If your child suffers excessively and shows signs of infantile colic even after 3 to 4 months of age, a specialist should be consulted.
Tip: There is a colic identification formula proposed by Dr. Maurice Wissel. If a baby without any other abnormalities cries for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, and 3 weeks in a row (the 3.3.3 rule), they may be suffering from infantile colic.
How can I help my child suffering from colic?
1. Breathing in gas can make the condition worse, so please burp your child well. Swiping their back from the bottom up, rather than just patting on the back, is more effective for baby burps.
2. Hold your baby with a sling close to your body and gently move them up and down. It may also be helpful to drive them around in a car seat.
3. When feeding your baby formula, leave the shaken bottle for a while so that air bubbles float upwards. A breastfeeding position is good to keep the baby upright. After feeding, lay your baby on their right side. This can reduce the chance of vomiting.
4. Massage your baby to remove intestinal gas. It is helpful to gently sweep your child's belly with a warm hand.
5. You can try using a functional formula that helps digestion, or a functional baby bottle that uses less air.
Author: Eun-Kyung Beom, Pediatrician
· Baby Sleep Education Expert
· Director of Baby Sleep Research Institute
· Formerly Director of Gwangju Central Children's Hospital