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Infant Colic

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Infant colic is a condition where a healthy and well-fed infant cries too much for an unknown reason. An infant is a baby who is less than one year old. With infant colic, your baby may cry too much for more than three hours a day. This crying continues for more than three days a week, for at least three weeks. Crying often starts in late afternoon or early evening. Once your baby cries, he cannot be soothed, even by feeding. Infant colic may affect babies during their first few weeks or months of life. The exact cause of infant colic is not known. Milk allergy, a mother's diet or smoking habits, parenting behavior, or problems with the baby's digestive system and temperament may cause infant colic.

  • Signs and symptoms include passing gas often, an abdomen (belly) that looks or feels hard, flushing of his face, and moving a lot. Laboratory and x-ray tests are usually not needed to diagnose infant colic. Your baby's caregiver may ask you about your family history, and examine your baby. If caregivers cannot find another medical problem, you may be told that your baby has infant colic. Treatment aims to relieve your baby's colic, help his crying decrease to a normal amount, and help him to feel comfortable. Medicines may be given to help calm your baby's stomach. Warm baths, warm compresses, and soft music may also be used to calm your baby. With time, infant colic may go away without treatment. Treatments may help infant colic go away sooner, or happen less often.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's caregivers to decide what care you want for your baby.

RISKS:

Infant colic is a common condition among babies. Parents who have babies with infant colic may feel anxiety and stress. Parents may also lack rest and sleep, feel depressed, or lose their patience and temper. Stress on the parents may make it hard to have good relationships with the baby and other people. They may not be able to work well or do their usual activities. Giving your baby a lot of love, care, and attention may help prevent and relieve infant colic. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your baby's condition, treatment, or care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Activity:

Sleeping long hours and napping are normal for infants. Babies up to three months of age take many short naps throughout the daytime and nighttime. They sleep for a total of 10 to 18 hours in a 24-hour period. After the age of three months, babies usually get 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. They may nap a couple of times during the day for a total of 3 to 4 hours. You may also need to get some rest while your baby is asleep. Match your activity to the amount of energy you have. Ask others that you trust to help you take care of your baby.

Picture of father holding baby

Diet and nutrition:

Your baby needs to drink milk that will not cause him to have an allergic reaction. If your baby is bottle fed, you may need to change his milk formula. If you are the mother of a baby who is being breast fed, your diet may need to change. Avoid foods that may cause allergies for your baby. These include milk, cheese, wheat, and nuts. Ask your baby's caregiver for information about breast feeding or milk formulas for your baby to use when you take him home.

Emotional support:

A different room, lights and sounds may make your baby more anxious. Hug and cuddle your baby to comfort him. Bring in something from home for your baby such as a blanket or toy. Ask caregivers if another family member can stay with your baby when you cannot be there.

Intake and output:

  • Your baby's caregiver may need to know how much liquid your child is getting and urinating. Caregivers may also want to know how much your baby eats and if he had a bowel movement (BM).

  • You may need to save your baby's diapers so a caregiver can weigh them. A urine bag may also be used to collect and measure the amount of urine. Do not throw away diapers or the urine bag before asking your baby's caregiver.

IV:

An IV is a small tube placed in your child's vein. Caregivers use the IV to give your child medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

Your baby may need one or more of the following:

  • Anti-foaming medicines: These medicines may help ease your baby's colic. These prevent too many gas bubbles from forming inside your baby's stomach.

  • Sedative: A sedative medicine may be given if your baby's colic attack has been too long. This may help your baby stay calm and relaxed.

  • Special milk formulas: These may be given for your baby's proper nutrition. Milk formulas that do not cause allergy or other problems may replace your baby's usual milk. Special formulas that have fats and oils, which are easy to digest, may also be given.

Tests:

Your baby may need any of the following:

  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.

  • X-ray: This takes pictures of the inside of your baby's abdomen. Your baby's caregiver may use it to look for any problems and see how his body is doing. He may need to check if there is blockage or too much gas in your baby's stomach or bowel.

Treatment options:

Ask your baby's caregiver about the following treatments:

  • Counseling for the parents: Caregivers may talk to you or other family members, or other people who care for your baby. You will be told that your baby's crying will decrease over time, and to be patient. Caregivers will also suggest ways to care for your baby.

  • Chiropractic therapy: Caregivers who move body parts in certain ways may help relieve your baby's colic. This may include parts such as the spine (backbone) and joints. Joints are places on the body where two bones meet, such as the elbow, or the knee.

  • Herbal tea: Extracts from leaves, herbs, and trees may be used to make teas. Having your baby drink tea may relax him and calm his stomach, but do not give your baby tea unless your baby's caregiver says it is OK.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your child's current health.

Copyright © 2012. Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Infant Colic (Inpatient Care)

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