Identifying Baby Colic Symptoms

How do I know if my baby has colic and what can I do about it?

Identifying Baby Colic Symptoms

Because they can't communicate, babies often cry to signal that it's time for them to be fed, have a diaper change, go for a walk, or that they are just plain bored of their surroundings. Colicy babies, however, will cry a lot more often. How does one tell the difference betwen normal baby tears and colicky symptoms?

What is colic?

Colic' is term most often used for describing uncontrollable tears in a generally healthy baby. When a baby is younger than five months and cries for more than three hours in a row, for more than three days, he or she can be considered colicky. Other signs that your little one may have colic are clenched fingers, an arched back, flushed skin, and extending, or pulling up, his legs and passing gas while crying. In some instances, your baby might feel better having having passed gas or had a bowel movement.

It's quite normal for your little one to cry a lot during the first 3 months of his life. On an average, most pediatricians agree that newborns will cry at least 2 hours in a day. Colicky babies however have slightly different habits like:

  • Continuous crying without reason (without needing a diaper change, feeding, or change of scenery)
  • Crying around the same time each day
  • Crying for more than 3 hours in a day, more than 3 days in a week
  • Making sounds that are more intense than normal baby crying
  • Difficult to soothe and feed
  • Arched back
  • Clenched fists
  • Bloated tummy
  • Passes gas while crying, caused by swallowing air
  • Tightened stomach muscles
  • Habit of bending arms and legs towards his belly
  • Red, flushed face while crying

Are colic symptoms ever serious?

Colic can be a distressing thing for you as a parent, especially if you are handling the situation for the first time, or are a first time parent. Babies with colic will usually gain weight and grow as they should, but if you start to notice abnormal changes in your baby you should contact your doctor right away.

Call your doctor if your baby:

  • Throws up frequently
  • Eats less than normal
  • Is less alert and more sleepy than usual
  • Has a fever of 100.4 degrees, or higher than that
  • Has fewer wet diapers to change
  • Has diarrhoea, or blood, in his stoll
  • Could possibly be sick or injured
  • Has difficulty sleeping
  • Cries as though in pain
  • Doesn't want to be held or touched and doesn't want to be soothed, even for a few minutes
  • Doesn't suck the bottle or breast strong enough to feed

Don't wait to call your doctor for too long or till you are in a better frame of mind. Your paediatrician can help you to manage these difficult colic symptoms, and in effect it will help you to feel more calm and less stressed. He or she may ask you questions like:

  • When does your baby cry, and for how long?
  • What seems to be the trigger for your baby's crying spells?
  • Have you noticed anything work for calming your baby?
  • Is your baby's crying louder and more high pitched than usual?
  • How often does your baby have bowel movements? Are they normal?
  • How often does your baby eat and what does he eat?

These questions will help your doctor to identify whether or not there are additional problems with allergies, sensitivities to certain foods, discomfort due to the weather, reflux, pain from illness or injury, and weakness or hunger.