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Practical Tips to Manage Colic

Updated on September 14, 2016
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Dr. Amitha Jocie Mundenchira is a family physician with additional training in low risk obstetrics. She practises in Toronto.

It will eventually pass without intervention

Colic is a behaviour exhibited by newborns and infants, that is characterized by excessive spurts of crying mostly in the evenings without any identifiable cause. It affects about 10-30% of infants worldwide. The most widely used definition of colic was given by American pediatrician Dr. Morris Arthur Wessel - periods of intense crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks.

It is commonly observed between the ages of 2 weeks and 4 months; it peaks at 6 weeks of age. Compared to regular crying, colicky crying is more high pitched and nerve-wracking.

Medical examination and investigations are not warranted unless the physician suspects another condition.

There are many speculated causes of colic including reflux, milk protein allergy and low birth weight. Based on speculated causes of colic, clinical recommendations have developed over time to help parents deal better with colic. However, there are no validated scientific studies to date.

Clinical recommendations include the following:

  1. Mothers, who are breastfeeding, should consider a diet that is lactose-free, soya-free, wheat-free, and low in sugar and caffeine.
  2. If baby is formula-fed, consider a hypoallergenic lactose-free soya-free brand.
  3. Consider tummy massage with warm olive oil before feed-times.
  4. Make sure to burp baby in upright over-shoulder position after each feed.
  5. Consider playing audio with sounds of nature or white noise throughout the day.
  6. Consider vibratory motions with baby in car seat - this can be done either manually or by placing car seat on top of a dryer.
  7. There are over-the-counter digestive aids that may help some babies - biogaia,, gripe water, ovol drops.

Trying to cope with colic can be distressing for parents. Parents should be reassured that their babies will settle over time. Parents should not exhaust themselves and should consider taking short breaks with the help of their support circle.

The most effective intervention for colic remains the passage of time.



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