Is Colic Even A Thing?
Fussy newborn? Colic.
Screaming 6 month old? Colic.
Stomach pain? Colic
Unsettled after feeds? Colic
Doesn’t sleep well at night? Colic.
Won’t nap? Colic.
Mamas! Listen!! There’s no such thing as colic.
Call me crazy. IT’S TRUE!
Everyone throws around the word “colic” without even knowing what it means.
Do you know what the official criteria a baby has to meet to be considered “colicky?”
They have to cry for at least 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks for no explicable reason. So if your baby only cries for 2 hours a day, twice a week for 2 weeks… do you know what his scientific label is? Contented. I kid you not.
These two labels, Colic and Contented, were coined in 1954 by Dr. Morris Wessel, a pediatrician who published a paper about babies who cried excessively.
Between 1954 and today, do you know what’s changed in the world of colic? Nothing.
In other scientific developments since 1954, we’ve put man on the moon, found vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis, figured out how to clone a sheep and give people new hearts, legs and livers… but our understanding of colic remains where it began in 1954.
What are the causes of colic? Nobody knows exactly.
How do you treat if? There’s no sure way.
Are you kidding me?
The truth is, colic isn’t a thing.
It’s not a medical condition or even an experience that babies suffer through. It’s a label. A label that is thrown around to describe fussy babies.
Why are young babies fussy?
Fussiness in a baby who is fed and clean usually comes from one of the following two causes:
- Your baby is tired. Newborns and young babies get unbelievably fussy when they are overtired and overstimulated. The need to sleep makes them crazed and inconsolable.
- Your baby’s stomach hurts. Babies often suffer physical pain from an under developed gastrointestinal system or acid reflux in the first few months of life.
Both of those things are REALLY real. Newborn babies need to go down for a nap every 60 minutes- and if you keep them up past the point of exhaustion they will exhibit symptoms of “colic:”
- Arched back
- rigid body
- hysterical crying for long periods of time
- clenched fists
- inability to calm down.
Those are signs of an overtired baby. They are also signs of a baby suffering from acid reflux,which can also come along with projectile vomiting.
So many mothers I work with tell me that their baby is “colicky” until we put the baby on an age appropriate schedule. All of a sudden, the colic goes away. In a day. It’s miraculous.
Colic is passé. It’s something intangible to blame the crying on – instead of getting to the root of your baby’s struggles, whether that is a struggle for more sleep or a GI issue. Learn more about how you can help your baby’s stomach pain in this post, and make sure to bring up any health concerns with your pediatrician.
Remember that babies are very sensitive to tension in the home as well, so keeping yourself calm is the best thing you can do to help keep your baby calm.