Another common cause of intense bouts of crying is the age-old phenomenon of colic. So what exactly is colic? Colic is defined as crying for more than 3 hours/day for more than 3 days/week and for more than 3 weeks. Basically, it is unexplained crying. It usually starts around 2 weeks of life, peaks at 6 weeks of life, improves at 8 weeks of life and resolves around 16 weeks of life. These crying spells are often not related to feedings or hunger and usually peak in the evening. No one knows the cause of colic but we see it in patients of all backgrounds. One interesting theory behind the cause of colic involves the use of the term, ‘the fourth trimester’. According to this theory, babies are born immature and extremely fragile. Back when we were cavemen and we learned to walk upright, the pelvis became narrower. Babies are born 3-4 months early so as to allow the developing brain a safe passage way through the woman’s small pelvis. It is during these first few months outside the womb that the infant learns to interact with this loud, bright and complex world. This can be overwhelming to the baby (and to the parents). This is why the treatment of colic involves recreating a womb-like atmosphere. These techniques involve the popular “S’s” that you may have read about. They are:
This is an extremely soothing and natural reflex for all infants. We know that babies that nurse or suck on the pacifier during vaccines or circumcision have lower pain scores. Sucking can involve nursing or the pacifier. Please don’t be afraid to offer your baby a pacifier. Most would agree that the use of pacifiers does not interfere with nursing. However, most would agree that the best time to break your baby of the pacifier habit is around 4 months of life.
Allowing an infant to feel contained takes them back to the time they spent growing in your small uterus. Also, when their arms and legs are still, they can better focus on the other “S” techniques. Don’t be afraid of the swaddle!
Based on studies, we know that the uterus was a loud environment for your baby given all of the blood flowing through the large arteries. A loud “Shah” into the baby’s ear can be comforting. Also, white noise like the vacuum or washing machine may be comforting.
Remember, for 9 months, your baby was used to being in constant motion as you went through your day. Your baby may not prefer to be still. If the baby is fussy, try putting her in the swing or taking her on a drive. However, please do not allow your infant to sleep for long periods in their swing and ALWAYS buckle them in.