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Facts and advice about colic and survival tips for parents. Written by a pediatrician. Infant colic affects between 3-30% of all infants. Babies scream inconsolably for hours a day, usually in the evenings. As a parent, it can feel hopeless. Here you can read what helps and what does not. And remember – it will pass!
Causes of colic
No one knows why babies get colic. They often pull their legs up to their stomachs when they scream, so it looks like they have a stomach ache. The fact that they’re in pain is probably pretty clear. Several studies show a link between colic and the development of migraines at a later stage in life. So it’s possible that infant colic is the immature nervous system migraine variant. They haven’t tested migraine medications for the condition, but that would be interesting.
Infant colic always goes away by itself
Colic often starts at three weeks of age and always passes by itself. Often it gets much better at three months of age. The vast majority of babies are clear of colic at 6 months of age.
Semper’s stomach drops can help against colic
Stomach drops with lactobacilli, or probiotics, (eg. Semper’s stomach drops in Sweden), have been shown in several studies to reduce screaming. Try this if your child screams a lot. There are no known side effects in otherwise healthy infants. Stomach drops have not been studied with other bacteria, unlike Bifibaby, so we don’t know if they work scientifically.
Minifom does not help against colic
There have been several studies on dimethicone, found in minifom, to treat colic. It has not been shown to have better efficacy than placebo, or inactive drops. Minifom, however, is not dangerous, so try it if you want.
Acupuncture against infant colic
There have only been small studies on acupuncture treatment and they have shown conflicting results. There are no reported or possible side effects. So, again, try it if you are looking for something more than just the Semper’s stomach drops.
Milk-free alternatives for babies with colic
Intense screaming and dissatisfaction can be symptoms of milk protein allergy in infants. These children will cry less if mom starts eating dairy free products or if they receive formula without cow’s milk. Try cow’s milk-free alternatives and see if your baby feels better. If there is no difference, introduce milk again.
Surviving as the parent of a colic baby
It’s insanely stressful being the parent of a baby with colic. One important thing to remember is that you can’t comfort a baby with colic. Therefore, your task is not to comfort, but to endure.
Some babies scream less when someone is carrying them around, if so, do it.
Other babies scream less when they are driven. Then you may have to drive around a few hours every night.
No one can handle baby colic alone. If you are two parents, split up. Make sure that the parental leave parent is also allowed out of the home every day.
When you can’t stand colic screams
Parents dealing with colic occasionally get to a point when they really can’t stand it anymore. Then it is perfectly ok to put the screaming child on the floor or in the crib, close the door and take a break. It’s not dangerous for a screaming child to scream alone for a while. What you must never do is shake the child violently or hurt it.
Seeking help for colic
The BVC (pediatric office) nurse has a lot of support to give to you as a parent dealing with baby colic. If you feel that you need support at home or more concrete support to cope with your child – contact the Social Services in your municipality. Parental support is one of their most important tasks. A pediatrician can help rule out other diseases and prescribe cow’s milk protein-free formula.