Fussing and crying are a normal part to life for infants, but some babies cry a lot more than others. When healthy babies cry excessively for no apparent reason, doctors call it colic.
Signs of Colic
Predictable crying episodes. Babies with colic often cry at about the same time each day, usually in the late afternoon or evening. These crying episodes can last from just a few minutes to more than three hours.
Your baby seems unconsolable. A colic baby’s cry is pretty intense. It’s often high-pitched. Their face is usually flushed, and it often seems impossible to comfort them.
Curled legs and clenched fists. During a crying episode, colicky babies often tighten their abdominal muscles, pull their legs to their chest or clench their fists.
Does Your Baby Have Colic?
Doctors generally use the “rule of threes” to diagnose colic:
- Crying bouts start at around 3 weeks old
- They last more than 3 hours a day
- They happen more than 3 days a week
- They continue for 3 weeks in a row or longer
Colic usually peaks at around 6-8 weeks old and declines by 3-4 months of age.
What Causes Colic?
There’s widespread debate as to what causes colic. Some doctors see it as a natural development stage as your baby adjusts to life outside the womb.
Long bouts of crying can also result from the trauma of birth. Regardless of how your baby was born, the birth process is traumatic. If he has an area in his spine where he vertebra is pinching on a nerve, this can result in headaches or neck pain. The only way a baby has to tell you he is in pain is to cry.
Brain Chemical Imbalance
Others suggest that colic stems from an imbalance of the brain chemicals melatonin and serotonin. Babies get plenty of melatonin from their mother while in the womb, but the levels drop after birth until he starts producing them on his own (around 3-4 months of age).
Some colicky babies can be gassy. If this is the case, they’ll often settle down after passing gas. If you find that your baby is fussy after a meal, lay her on her back, bring her knees to her chest and gently roll their legs in a clockwise motion, and burp her, often, during the feeding process, feeding her smaller meals more often.
The Five S’s
Harvey Karp, MD suggests soothing your baby by mimicking life inside the womb. He calls this the Five S’s: swaddling, “shooshing” loudly in your baby’s ear, swinging or swaying, sucking on a pacifier, and laying on her side. Dr. Karp’s methods are some of the best colic remedies available. He suggests doing all five in sequence, but many parents find success in just one or two.
Chiropractic Care for Babies
The chiropractors at Fulk Chiropractic specialize in chiropractic care for infants. They offer gentle chiropractic treatment to infants while they lay on a parent’s chest. They recommend having your baby examined during the first few weeks of life to ensure that all of their bones and joints are functioning correctly.
Chiropractic treatment has been proven to be one of the most effective forms of colic remedies. By correcting any misalignments in your baby’s spine, you can ensure that she is free from the pain of a headache, neck pain or back pain that can so often happen during the birthing process.
White Noise or Music
Music, static from a radio station, the sound of a vacuum cleaner or dishwasher can be soothing to a baby. These colic remedies often work because these sounds mimic the sounds they heard while in the womb.
All babies love to be close to their mothers and fathers, so it’s no surprise that holding and rocking a baby is often an effective colic remedy. Consider wearing your baby in a baby carrier or sling. In the womb, she was held and rocked 24/7, so keeping her close while you get a little bit of housework done can keep her calm AND leave your arms free.
There are a few warning signs that can indicate that your baby has a more serious issue. If you see any of these signs, bring her to your local urgent care center or emergency room, immediately:
- Blue lips or skin during a crying episode
- Tight abdomen between episodes
Get Some Support
If your baby’s crying is incessant, don’t be afraid to take a break. Place him securely in his crib and take a few minutes to yourself. New babies are exhausting. Find at least 30 minutes a day that you can take time just for yourself. Enlist the help of your spouse, grandparent or a friend.
Also consider getting involved in a mom’s group. The support of other women who have experienced (or are experiencing) some of the same things you are is reassuring and encouraging.
You don’t have to parent alone. It’s always okay to ask for help.
At Fulk Chiropractic in Kansas City, we understand that it takes a village. That’s why we offer 24 hour emergency care where you can call and speak with one of our doctors outside of our regular business hours at no cost to you. They can be reached at 913-764-6237.