Most new parents anticipate that the reality of a new baby will be quite challenging, but few people are prepared for a baby that cries inconsolably for hours. A baby whose needs have all been met, but is still screaming that ear-piercing wail, with fists clenched, knees drawn up tightly and a terrible grimace on his/her little face.
Estimates of colic vary widely from 5% to up to 40% of babies being affected, but most experts will accept a middle ground figure of around 20%. That's one in five babies screaming for hours at a time. The sound is heartbreaking and being unable to comfort your own baby is intensely stressful for parents.
Symptoms of Colic
The main symptom of colic is excessive crying that lasts for prolonged periods, in a baby that is otherwise healthy and has had all his/her needs attended to.
Babies with colic are very difficult to settle with cuddling or soothing.
The most commonly accepted medical definition of colic is the “Rule of Threes”: a baby that is otherwise healthy and has had his/her needs met, but who still cries for 3 or more hours in a day, for 3 or more days per week, for 3 weeks or more.
Other common symptoms of colic include:
- Crying that is a high pitched, ear-piercing sound;
- Grimacing or frowning face, with a pained expression;
- Red, flushed face;
- Clenched fists;
- Excessive gas (flatulence);
- Knees drawn up to chest;
- Baby looks like s/he is in pain;
- Often worse in the afternoon or evening (but can happen at any time).
There are other medical conditions that can cause excessive crying in infants, so it is important to see a doctor to rule out any other underlying medical condition, before assuming that your baby has colic. However, other medical causes account for less than 5% of infants presenting to their doctor with excessive crying.
If your baby is in the other 95%, the Survivor’s Guide to Colic can help!
Colic is Not Your Fault (or Your Baby’s)
If your baby has been crying for hours at a time and nothing you do seems to help, you are probably:
- Feeling genuinely distressed;
- Worried about your baby;
- Confused by conflicting information about colic;
- Exhausted from the stress and the sleep deprivation;
- Worried that you’re doing something “wrong” or that this is your “fault” somehow; and/or
- Concerned about the impact of the crying & stress on your relationship.
Here’s some research-based information that might help:
- Colic has been estimated to affect up to 40% of babies;
- Colic is not caused by parental anxiety/stress;
- Colic affects equal numbers of breast-fed and bottle-fed babies;
- Colic does not happen because your baby has a “difficult” temperament.
Jen's recent blog "Common Colic Worries" covers some of the concerns parents of colicky babies often have and some reassuring scientific research that puts those worries to rest.
Confused by all the Conflicting Information about Colic?
When you are a tired parent of an unsettled baby, it seems like all the information out there is conflicting and inconsistent. The experts argue about everything from the cause of colic to how to treat it. There are so many colic-related products on the market that it is really hard to figure out what's real and what's just marketing hype. And then there's the urban myths, the 'old wives tales', the out of date information and some other stuff people have posted on the web that's just plain wrong (and sometimes dangerous). It can be incredibly frustrating when all you want to do is help your baby.
One reason for the conflicting information is that there is fierce disagreement between experts about what causes colic and how to treat it. It is also complicated because different babies respond to different techniques/solutions.
In brief, some experts believe that colic is caused by a gastrointestinal issue and others believe it is caused by environmental factors such as overstimulation or the need for more advanced settling techniques. As a result, different experts believe in different solutions and have a tendency to argue that they have the 'right' solution for colic. That is a very confusing maze for an exhausted parent to navigate.
Survivor’s Guide to Colic can Help
Jen has written you the book that she wished for as a new parent of a colicky baby: a book that gives parents clear and balanced explanations, practical tips and solutions, explains why some experts have different opinions and backs it all up with references to the relevant medical research.
Survivor's Guide to Colic gives you advanced 'baby-whisperer' settling techniques that you can use immediately to help soothe your baby. The book then clearly explains the main theories about each of the causes of colic and the key indicators for each of those causes. This is followed by a full range of options designed to address each of those underlying causes. For each option, Jen clearly explains:
- who thinks it works and why;
- who disagrees and why; and
- any medical evidence to back up each viewpoint.
After reading the book, you'll understand the pros and cons of each of your options, which will empower you as parents to find the right solution/s for your baby.