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> Home > Articles by Tina Allen > Colic Q&A

Colic: Your Questions Answered by Tina Allen

by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016

What is Colic?

Websters Dictionary defines Colic as: Paroxysms of pain. This condition usually occurs in the abdominal region but may occur in other body regions as well.

(Paroxysms - . A sudden uncontrollable attack; "a paroxysm of giggling"; "a fit of coughing".)

But really that doesn’t answer your question. In terms of babies, we know that colic causes babies to cry and cry, much more than other babies who are not suffering from colic.




What are signs of Colic?

When babies with colic cry, they may draw their arms and legs in tight toward their bodies and appear to be in pain. Or other times they stretch out their arms and legs and stiffen, then draw up tight again. You may notice that baby’s face turns bright red from excessive crying.

Babies are diagnosed with colic when their crying lasts for more than three hours a day. You may find that colicky babies get fussier toward the end of the day, but colic can happen at any time.

A baby with colic may cry for long periods or may cry almost all of the time. And you may have already noticed that when your baby cries, they may swallow air. This swallowing is likely to give your baby uncomfortable gas.

Having an extra amount of gas in your baby’s tummy will make it look swollen and feel tight, which can of course make your baby more uncomfortable.


What Causes Colic?

This has long been a question without a definite answer. Still no one is quite sure what actually causes colic. Babies with colic are healthy, so it does not appear to be caused by a medical problem. And colic is not caused by the way a baby is cared for. Without a doubt it is not any fault of the parent.

A milk allergy was once considered to be a possible cause, but now doctors believe that this is rarely the case, as breastfed babies can get colic too. Many believe that colic is caused by excessive gas in the tummy which is the result of baby swallowing too much air while crying.


How long will Colic last?

Colic usually starts when baby is three to six weeks old. And will typically go away when they are around three months old. If your baby still appears to show signs of colic after three months of age, they may be experiencing a reflux disorder and you may wish to visit your baby’s physician for guidance.


How can I help soothe my colicky baby?

There is no one treatment which has been proven to make colic go away, but there are some simple things you can try to soothe your colicky baby. For example many babies calm when they are gently rocked, bounced or held closely to their parent’s body. By being held close, your baby may feel more warm and secure, and your body movements may help to calm.

Try also swaddling. Being swaddled for many babies helps them to organize. You may also try singing or humming a calming tune to your little one. This soothing sound may also calm you too!

And without a doubt, try massaging your baby’s tummy. In some cases, gently massaging baby’s tummy has helped to move uncomfortable gasses out of the intestinal tract relieving tightness and discomfort. Massage should be given to baby in a clockwise circular motion using your full soft hand. This massage specifically pinpoints the digestive tract and should help to ease your baby’s pain by helping them to pass painful gas.


How to cope when your baby has colic?

If your baby has colic, surely your family life has been turned upside down. You may find it extremely stressful and upsetting when your baby is crying for hours and cannot be easily comforted. Of course like many parents, you may feel guilty even though you are not the cause of your little one’s colic. No one wants to see their baby in pain.

Caring for a baby with colic can be extremely frustrating, so be sure to take care of yourself, too.

Don't blame yourself or your baby for the constant crying — colic is nobody's fault. Try to relax, and remember that your baby will eventually outgrow this phase. It is absolutely okay if you need a break. It may be necessary for you to call on friends or family as reinforcement.

If you're unsure whether your baby's crying is colic or a symptom of another illness, call your doctor.


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This professional training is for those interested in working with families by becoming a Certified Infant Massage Teacher (CIMT®). A CIMT® is not only an instructor, but also an educator who teaches the art of infant massage to parents or caregivers in the presence of their babies.

For more information visit Comprehensive Infant Massage Teacher Training Course (CIMT)


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