Colic is still very much a mystery to doctors. When a baby won’t stop crying the problem could be unrelated to the child’s health or be an indication of a bigger problem. About 40% of children develop colic in their first year.

What Does It Mean if I Have a Colicky Baby?
A baby is diagnosed with colic if he or she cries for at least three hours a day during the first months of their life. The cry can sound very urgent and painful even though the baby has no other symptoms.

A baby with colic will continue to eat and develop normally despite the daily weeping. Any parent who has a colicky baby should follow up with a pediatrician to ensure there are no other health issues with the child.

What Are the Causes?
While no one has been able to pinpoint the exact causes of colic, there are some great theories.

The most popular thinking on preventing colic is for the mother to change her diet during and after pregnancy. A diet high in dairy, wheat products such as bread or baked goods and coffee or caffeinated sodas are thought to be the cause of colic. An expectant mother can change her eating habits before or during her pregnancy if she is concerned about her baby’s reaction to these foods.

Another theory is that the baby may have a large gas bubble caught in their stomachs. This idea can happen as the baby cries and swallows air and which then gets caught in the lungs or the digestive system and the baby is expressing his or her discomfort by crying.

Building on the theory of gas being the cause, it is possible that colic can be caused by undiagnosed gastroesophageal reflux or GERD. This reflux can be made worse by the quick-growing frame of a baby and make the esophagus spasm, adding to the baby’s pain and unease.

What Are the Treatments for Colic?
Parents are encouraged to try a variety of things for colicky babies as each infant responds differently. The child can be swaddled to put light pressure on the stomach. Your baby may respond to back rubs; put the child on your lap and rub the back to encourage the gas to move around. Another way to help the little one’s stomach is to feed your child in an upright position and to try burping your baby more often with pats on the back.

It may require multiple techniques. Be patient. When in doubt, always check with your health care provider for advice.

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