Colic - How do I Care for a Colicky Baby | Kids Clinic Singapore


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(Last updated: 13 Jun)


What is Colic?

All babies cry, usually due to hunger, cold, tiredness or having a soiled diaper – however this crying is usually resolved if their needs are met. In some circumstances, despite being well-cared for and fed, there are still repetitive episodes of excessive crying, which may indicate that your child has colic. Colic is an outbreak of uncontrollable and inconsolable crying, accompanied by what appears to be an abdominal pain in babies.

Although it is characterised by very frequent crying, colic is not a dangerous condition. However, it can be stressful and upsetting for parents dealing with a colicky baby. It is important to note that colic is a common temporary phase which will eventually resolve. Colic episodes are typically most intense in infants around 6 weeks old, and will improve between 3 and 4 months.

What Causes Colic?

It is not known what exactly causes colic. Researchers have explored various possibilities including allergies, lactose intolerance, digestive system issues, anxiety from parents and feeding or comforting methods. However, there are not been any conclusive cause as to why some babies suffer from colic while others do not.

Does My Child have Colic?

Some symptoms of colic include:
  • Intense and furious crying which is inconsolable
  • Crying episodes may occur at a similar time every day and last from a few minutes to a few hours
  • Irregular sleeping patterns that can be interrupted by crying episodes
  • Feeding that can be interrupted by crying episodes
  • Your baby’s posture is tensed up with knees drawn up towards the chest, fists clenched and back arched

If you notice any change in your baby’s general behaviour including eating habits or sleeping patterns that concern you, seek medical advice.

How do I Care for a Colicky Baby?

Colicky babies will respond differently to various ways of comforting. The following methods may help calm your baby down:
  • Swaddle your baby properly
  • Sit your baby upright during feeding to reduce ingestion of air
  • Adopt a feeding pattern with frequent small feeds
  • For breastfeeding mothers, reducing their intake of tea, coffee, spices, dairy products, wheat or nuts may improve the baby’s condition
  • Use a pacifier
  • Ensuring bottle teats are of the appropriate size for your baby to prevent extra ingestion of air
  • Ensure your baby is burped after every feed
  • Comfort your baby in a quiet and dimly lit environment
  • Keep your baby in a gentle swaying motion
  • Give your baby a warm bath or gentle massage
  • Get additional help when you require
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