There’s a three month period that many parents come to dread — their baby’s period of infant colic. Defined as excessive crying and fussiness for no apparent reason, colic bypasses some babies while bearing down heavily on others. It’s a temporary phase, but it can be a distressing one, particularly for first-time parents. Our providers at Katy Pediatric Associates in Katy, Texas are here to help you through this difficult time. We can determine if your child’s crying is indeed just colic or if there’s another, underlying problem.
The rule of threes
Occurring in up to 40% of children, colic shows no favorites, equally spread between genders, full and preterm babies, and those breast- or bottle-fed. Colic crying typically starts between three and six weeks of age and lasts into the third or fourth month. All children cry more during this period than any other time in their lives, so sometimes defining “excessive” is hard.
One way to compare normal and excessive crying uses an informal “rule of threes.” If your baby cries for three hours at a time, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks, then their crying is colicky, in the absence of other conditions that account for the behavior.
Along with crying and fussiness, there are other accompanying signs that may form a colic “pattern.” When your baby displays one or more of these symptoms, it may help you distinguish infant colic from need-based crying. These signs include:
- Fussiness between periods of crying
- Crying sounds like screaming or an expression of pain
- Red face and tense body while crying
- Crying at predictable times, often in the evening
- Crying stops suddenly after a bowel movement or passing gas
Calming your child
It’s a natural parental urge to stop your child’s crying, and you may feel a need to preserve your own well-being as a new parent. Try one or more of these strategies to help settle your child:
- Swaddle your baby in a soft blanket
- Reduce visual stimulation, and dim room lights
- Introduce white noise sources, such as a vacuum running in another room, or a purpose-made white noise machine
- Play recordings of soothing sounds, such as a heartbeat
- Hold, rub, or rock your child
- Go for car or stroller rides
- Use a pacifier
Colic self-care for parents
Your child’s constant crying takes its toll on you. It’s important to go easy on yourself, since colicky crying has no underlying explanation, and therefore it’s not due to your parenting skills. Even when you know this, the sound of colic adds stress. Keep these self-care strategies in mind when you feel pressure building:
- Take a break: hand your child over to your spouse, a grandparent, or friend and remove yourself from the sound of crying
- Use the crib: take a mini break by placing your baby in their crib while you sip a cup of tea — it’s a time-honored way to regain your composure
- Take care of yourself: despite the sometimes overwhelming responsibilities of caring for a child, eating right and staying active yourself helps you cope with the stress of colic
Any time your baby’s crying concerns you, call Katy Pediatric Associates at 281-492-7676 or book an appointment online using the tool on this page. We can rule out other reasons for excessive crying and help you with colic care.