life of
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Management Strategies for Colic

Colic is defined as crying for no apparent reason that lasts for greater than 3 hours per day and occurs on 3 or more days per week in an otherwise healthy infant less than 3 months of age.

Fortunately, colic symptoms resolve spontaneously in 90 percent of infants by 8 to 9 weeks of age.

The following steps are recommended:

  1. Understand that colic does not mean that you are a “bad” parent and that colic is not caused by anything you are or are not doing
  2. Try a different feeding technique
    1. If baby is bottle fed, try feeding in a vertical position in combination with frequent burping
    1. If breastfed, consider seeing a lactation consultant
  3. Soothing techniques
    1. Pacifier
    1. Ride in car or stroller
    1. Holding or rocking infant or placing in front carrier
    1. Changing scenery to minimize visual stimuli
    1. Infant swing
    1. Warm bath
    1. Rubbing tummy
    1. Swaddling
    1. White noise or heart beat sounds
  4. Dietary changes
    1. Formula fed babies – 1 week trial of hydrolysate formulas (Protein hydrolysate formulas are meant for babies who don’t tolerate cow’s milk or soy-based formulas)
    1. Breastfed infants – time limited trial of decrease in maternal milk product consumption or hypoallergenic maternal diet
  5. Probiotics
    1. In breastfed babies, Lactobacillus reuteri may improve an infant’s colic by 50% after two weeks of treatment.  

There are is no evidence for the following in the management of colic:

If you have a colicky baby, know that you are doing the best you can.  Take breaks from the crying baby by placing them in their crib and ask for help from friends and family.  

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP .

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