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About colic and tips to help

About colic and tips to help

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If your baby is between the ages of 3 weeks and 3 months and she fusses and cries for long periods of time, usually in the evening several times per week, you may be facing a common problem: colic.

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Most babies go through fussy periods when they’re bored or tired, but colic is different. A baby is said to have colic when she cries up to 3 hours a day, at least 3 to 7 days a week, and it lasts between 3 weeks and 3 months. Babies also may pull up their legs, bunch up their fists, and grimace. These episodes typically start in the late afternoon and continue into the evening.

Although no one is quite sure what causes colic, it may be related to your baby’s immature nervous system. Some experts believe it’s related to a food allergy (especially to cow’s milk protein) or to gas or cramping in the developing digestive tract.

What can you do?

If you're breastfeeding:

  • Talk with your baby’s doctor.
  • Some parenting books suggest keeping a food diary for at least a week. Write down everything you eat and when. Include a column to record your baby's mood. Watch for any recurring patterns such as fussing a few hours after you eat a particular food.
  • Some experts say to try to avoid any suspected food for one week. If your baby's symptoms diminish, avoid that food for the next few weeks and look to other dietary sources or supplements for the same nutrients. For example, eat more meat or legumes if the offending food is eggs, or substitute calcium-fortified tofu or a calcium supplement if you're avoiding milk.

If you're bottle-feeding:

  • Talk with your baby’s doctor.
  • Feed your baby in an upright position.
  • Burp your baby often.
  • Be sure the hole in the nipple of your baby's bottle is the right size. If she’s an eager eater, you may need a bigger hole, so she sucks less air.
  • Avoid overfeeding.
  • Eliminate any smoking near your baby.
  • Try a baby food product with 100% whey protein.

Sometimes doctors suggest a change in baby food product to rule out the possibility of food intolerance. Because your baby's digestive system is still developing during her first year, you might want to talk with your doctor about switching to a baby food product with 100% whey protein that’s specially designed to be easy to digest. If you suspect that your baby is allergic to cow's milk protein, check with her doctor about which baby food product to use.

Coping with colic symptoms

Although the strategies listed above may help over time, here are a few hints that may help right away:

  • Try gentle, rhythmic walking or rocking.
  • Take your baby on a car ride.
  • Give her a nice, warm bath.
  • Try a pacifier to help soothe your baby.
  • Gently bicycle your baby’s legs.
  • Try giving your baby a gentle and soothing massage.

If you’re concerned about the amount of time your baby is crying, keep a crying diary to share with your baby’s doctor.

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