What is Colic?…and what helps?

What is Colic?…and what helps?

Colic is defined (according to Webmd, Wikipedia,, and a host of other sources) as consistently recurring episodes of crying in healthy babies.  “Consistently recurring” has further been defined as 3 hours per day, 3 days per week, for 3 weeks….straight.  And that’s just to diagnose it -- Colic may last for months.

Colic manifests itself in up to 40% of babies, most often begins within the first 3 weeks after birth, and can last for several months.  Most parents of babies with Colic report that their baby will begin crying for no apparent reason, but that the episodes generally tend to occur in the late afternoon or early evening.  Although some studies have shown a higher percentage of babies born of smoking mothers develop Colic and other studies have shown that a lesser percentage of breastfed babies experience Colic, there really is no evidence pinpointing a cause for Colic.  

Some experts feel that Colic can be a physical release triggered by sensitivity to light, noise, or surroundings.  Others think it may be a result of bacterial imbalance in the intestines.  Parents of a baby with Colic will attest that it is an excruciating experience for the baby and can be a very frustrating and stressful situation for the parents.  Although there is some comfort in the knowledge that your Colicky baby is healthy, it can make a parent feel helpless not knowing what caused it or how to deal with it.  Not to mention the notion that it may go on for another few months!

What helps?  There are dozens of would-be remedies and techniques on the market and/or internet today like special bottles, gas drops, pacifiers, swaddling, rocking, burping and many, many more.  Once you have determined that your baby isn’t crying due to a messy diaper, an empty stomach or some other obvious irritation, you may want to try and reduce the incoming stimuli such as light and noise.

Keep in mind that your baby will not die of Colic.  You might think YOU will, but your baby won’t.  In order to keep your sanity, ask for help from your spouse, a friend, or a baby sitter.  If you need to leave your baby in their crib for a bit while you calm your nerves – THAT’s OK!  Step into another room and take a break… or a shower… or an ibuprofen…or all three!