Colic in babies

Bay Cluster Network

Colic is a condition where a baby, experiences repeated episodes of excessive crying when he is otherwise well. Colic is considered to be a common condition but can be very upsetting for parents. It is estimated to affect 10-30% of babies and can affect both breast and bottle-fed babies. 

What is colic? 

Colic is a common condition where a baby may cry excessively for no obvious reason. Unfortunately, as babies are so young it is obviously impossible for us to get a better understanding of the symptoms of colic, although one thing that is noted is that babies with colic appear to experience tummy discomfort.

  • Babies that present with colic are;
  • Gaining weight normally
  • Not vomiting excessively
  • Feeding well
  • Experiencing normal poos
  • Often crying late afternoon or during the evening
  • Otherwise fine between bouts of crying
  • Otherwise healthy from a medical point of view

When a baby experiences a bout of colic, the baby may cry uncontrollably, goes red in the face while crying and may bring their legs up towards their body or arch their back while crying.

We often tell parents, that diagnosing colic is so difficult and we rely on what symptoms the baby does not have as well as what they do. Babies who have a rash, temperature, are not getting any wet or dirty nappies, never settles or aren’t feeding well would all need to be seen by the GP as colic is probably not the right diagnosis. There are no tests for colic, but the doctor will rule out any other potential causes for the baby’s crying.

How do you manage colic?  

Unfortunately, there are limited options in the treatment of colic and evidence for all colic treatments are sparse. The difficulty with the management of colic is there is a wide variety of definitions of colic. Colic does improve in its own time, thus finding the best management for your baby is the essential strategy. Advice would include;

  • Make sure to hold your baby while they are crying to soothe them
  • A little movement may be beneficial to some children. People often find a slow rocking movement or taking them for a short walk is helpful
  • Some babies find ‘white noise’ soothing
  • Other babies find a warm bath comforting
  • Some parents find it beneficial to ‘wind’ or ‘burp’ your baby after feeding

There is no clear evidence for the use of any colic drops or remedies. There is a very commonly used medication known as simeticone, present in popular brand Infacol. However, when used in comparison to placebo drops, there wasn’t found to be a significant difference in outcome for colic.

Other products including, lactase is sometimes used for patients with lactose intolerance but there is no evidence to state it is helpful for babies with colic.

However, if you have any doubt about the diagnosis, always feel free to ask your GP, health visitor or pharmacist.

What is the outcome for babies with colic?

All babies grow out of having colic by the age of 3-4 months and sometimes can be much earlier than this. It is very unusual for babies to have colic past 6 months of age.

Ultimately, as a parent you know your child better than anyone else, if you have any concerns regarding your baby, always ask your Heath visitor, GP or pharmacist for more information.

 

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