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There is nothing more exciting than bringing home a newborn baby. In most cases when an infant cries, a simple matter of changing a diaper, feeding or burping will have this tiny human back to their normal smiling self. But from time to time an infant will have episodes of crying and irritability with what appears to be abdominal pain. When this happens there is a good possibility that you baby has colic. Named for the colon, colic has been blamed on too much gas in the intestines, even though the precise cause of this disorder is not known. Occasionally bouts of colic will begin shortly after an infant comes home from the hospital, but in most cases it begins a few weeks later when the baby is between 3 and 4 months old.
The symptoms of colic include episodes of uncontrollable crying which tend to occur at a predictable time of the day or night. Some infants may cry excessively causing them to swallow air which results in gas and abdominal swelling. In spite of the bouts of colic the baby will eat and gain weight as they should. They will often seem to be very hungry and suck vigorously on anything. The child may also draw up its legs, pass gas or become very red in the face. When your new baby demonstrates any of the symptoms you should call your pediatrician. He will be able to diagnose colic by excluding other causes of crying and irritability such as inadequate feeding, over stimulation, sickness or milk allergies.
Frequently a colicky infant will quite down when held, rocked or patted gently. If your infant has a strong sucking urge and fusses soon after feedings it may need more opportunity to suck. When a bottle feeding takes less than 20 minutes you should try using different nipples with smaller holes. If the baby is extremely active and restless it may respond to being wrapped in a blanket or swaddled. You can take the infant for a ride in the car to sooth them during bouts of colic or use white noise such as an air conditioner or radio static in the infants room. Placing a heating pad that is set on a safe, comfortable setting or a warmed wash cloth under the infants stomach can help as well. From time to time, giving the infant a pacifier will quite them, gently rubbing their tummy in a circular motion, placing the infant face down on your knees while stroking the back, carrying the baby in a front sling or pouch, or putting the baby securely in a seat on top of a running washer or dryer will help. If none of these techniques seem to quite your infant check with your pediatrician to see if a sedative is needed. In rare cases a pediatrician will recommend a sedative that should be given one hour prior to the anticipated fussy period.
Infantile colic is common and usually occurs in one of every ten babies born. The condition is harmless although it can be highly distressing to a tired parent. Over all rhythmic, soothing activities work best to ease colic. Even more important, the parent should avoid fatigue and exhaustion during these bouts. Colic usually clears up on its own by the age of 12 weeks. Any time your infant seems sick between bouts of colic, has diarrhea, constipation or a fever your pediatrician should be consulted since the baby may have a more serious underlying problem.