Colic is episodes of unexplained crying in healthy babies. The crying usually occurs in the late afternoon/early evening, after waking up or just after a feed. It usually first occurs between the ages of two and four weeks and can last for three to four months. It is very common, affecting approximately 40% of young babies. Babies suffering from colic appear to feel discomfort. They will cry uncontrollably despite efforts to calm them down, they often draw their legs up to their chest, appear red-faced, tense, uptight, irritable and restless and the stomach often rumbles and looks bloated.It can be very distressing to both baby and carer but it does not usually affect the baby's overall health and the baby should eventually grow out of the condition.

Causes

The exact cause of colic is unknown although it is widely thought that it is caused by excess gas or 'wind' perhaps caused by gulping air during a feed.It could also be caused by noise, bright light, tiredness, a full nappy, feeling cold or hot, allergy, hunger, feeling too full or it could be simply due to the baby's temperament.

Avoiding Colic

Breastfeeding is the preferred feeding method for babies. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from colic.If you are a breastfeeding mother, try and avoid excessive quantities of caffeine. Drinks containing caffeine include tea, coffee, drinking chocolate and cola.Babies prefer a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Babies may feel less agitated in a quiet environment where there is soft lighting.

Treatment

As the exact cause of colic is not known, it is difficult to know how to treat it. Eliminating each of the possible causes of colic can help. Some babies respond to movement, some to physical contact or a gentle stomach massage and some to stimulation. Some babies calm down if they are given a dummy.Gripe mixtures can help to get rid of excess wind and reduce stomach cramps. Colic drops break down air bubbles present in the stomach, easing discomfort. They can both be bought in pharmacies.

When To See A Doctor

Take your baby to the doctor if he or she keeps being sick, has a pale complexion or a temperature of above 38ÂșC.

Additional Information

For more information about colic, ask your health visitor or contact Serene, BM Cry-sis, London WC1N 3XX. They also operate a telephone helpline on 0171 404 5011