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When your baby’s crying never stops

Colic is the term used when your healthy and well-fed infant cries excessively with no way of being soothed. It is completely normal for babies to cry when they experience discomfort, but colic can also commonly occur in babies in the first few months of life.

Symptoms of colic

All babies cry, but if your child seems to cry inconsolably or excessively when he is otherwise healthy, fed, changed and well-rested, he may be experiencing infant colic. A quick way to determine if your child could have colic is by following the “PURPLE” rule:

Be aware of colic using the "PURPLE" rule

colic_1_1_peakofcrying

Peak of crying

unexpected

Unexpected

resists_soothing

Resists soothing

pain_like_face

Pain-like face

long_lasting

Long-lasting

evening

Evening

Some children are more prone to colic than others, and this can be very frustrating and distressing for new parents still adjusting to parenthood. One key symptom of colic is if your child cries excessively and seemingly without reason. Excessive crying is defined if your child cries for at least three hours a day, for more than three days a week, with each occurrence lasting three or more weeks each time. Other associated symptoms include:

Associated symptoms

flushing

Flushing of cheeks

bending_of_legs

Bending of legs into belly

crying

Crying inconsolably

bowel

Stops crying after farting or bowel movement

persistent

Persistent

At least 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, lasts 3 weeks each time

It is important to properly diagnose your child, as crying can also be a symptom of other conditions. Other potential conditions include:

Distinguishing colic from other conditions

colic_3_4_gastro

Gastroesophageal reflux

colic_3_3_milk

Milk protein intolerance

colic_3_1_abdominalpain

Abdominal pain due to surgical pathology

colic_3_2_drunkmum_0

Crying because of mother’s history with alcohol or drug use

colic_3_5_infection

Fussiness due to infection

Why colic develops in infants

Colic has been around for years, but research is still unable to determine its key cause. Some doctors may attribute it to a natural stage of development as babies get used to life outside the womb. Other possible causes for colic include:

Causes of colic

colic_4_4_lactose

Poor tolerance or total intolerance of lactose

colic_4_5_flatulence

Flatulence

colic_4_2_digestivesystem

Your child’s digestive system is still immature, leading to stomach upsets

colic_4_3_milk

Allergy to protein in cow’s milk

colic_4_1_feedinghabits

Inappropriate diet and feeding habits

colic_4_6_parentsanxiety

Parents’ anxiety and soothing worries infant

Remedies colic

Colic is not harmful to the child, but can take a real toll on parents and caregivers. Generally, colic eventually subsides after a number of months, so one can only really wait it out. To cope, you can also learn about varying methods to calm your child, including:

Remedies of colic for children

colic_5_4_breastfeeding

Providing comfort via breastfeeding or a pacifier

colic_5_5_warmbath

Giving a warm bath

colic_5_3_cuddle

Cuddling your child

colic_5_6_lullaby

Singing a lullaby

colic_5_1_music

Turning on some soothing music

colic_5_7_medictaion

Using anti-flatulence medication as instructed by your doctor

colic_5_2_probiotics

Providing probiotics contained in medicines, and food under the guidance of your doctor

For parents and caregivers, the aim should be to reduce the stress and frustration that comes with having a child that experiences infant colic. Some of these measures can also be taken:

Remedies of colic for parents and caregivers

colic_6_3_babycare

Learn how to provide care, ensuring that the baby is not hungry or tired

colic_6_5_breastfeeding

Practice proper breastfeeding

colic_6_2_understandfustration

Understand and learn how to cope with baby’s crying

colic_6_1_fustration_0

Don’t get frustrated when the baby is crying to avoid doing harm to him

colic_6_4_restrelax

Spend time in rest and relaxation

Advanced reading: when to seek help for colic

If crying persists in your baby, you may want to seek medical help. A good gauge that the crying is not simply a symptom of colic is if your child is:

When to visit your doctor

colic_8_1_injury

Crying after a fall or trauma

colic_8_4_cryingill

Crying when ill

colic_8_3_cyanosis

Crying accompanied by cyanosis (a bluish tinge to the skin and lips)

colic_8_2_cryingbehaviour

Crying accompanied by changes in behaviour, eating or sleeping habits

Before visiting the doctor, parents or caregivers should also monitor the symptoms and frequencies in your baby’s cries, including:

What to do when making doctor visits

colic_9_1_makenotes

Making notes about baby’s diet, food, feeding schedule and weight changes

colic_9_2_sharesolutions

Sharing solutions and interventions attempted when baby cries

colic_9_3_keepdiary

Locations, progress, time and frequency of crying

colic_9_4_observesigns

Signs and changes before, during and after crying

You may also ask the doctor these questions to get more information, including:

 

  • Causes of crying
  • Impacts on the child’s development
  • What to do when it occurs
  • Effective treatments

colic_10_askdoctor

When you have arrived at the doctor’s office, don’t be alarmed when the doctor performs these routine examinations to find out more about your child’s condition:

Examples of routine examinations

colic_11_2_familycare_0

Learning and evaluating care from the family

colic_11_3_childdiet

Reviewing the child’s diet history and habits

colic_11_1_reviewingmum

Reviewing the mother’s pregnancy and medical history

colic_11_5_familyhistory

Understanding the family’s medical history

colic_11_6_clinicalexam

Performing a clinical examination

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