I was just having a discussion with a client with a 4 month old baby who said “I felt like it would never end but now I can enjoy my baby”. This was all to do with colic and how those first 4 months were so difficult and felt like they would never end. But how long does colic last for? Does it disappear at the magic 3 months mark or can it go on for longer?
Finding the answer
It is important to understand that there is always a reason behind the crying. A baby doesn’t cry for no reason, it is their only way of communicating. Your task is to understand the reason why. It depends on the reason of their distress as to how long colic will last. It can be a case of trial and error to find the root cause.
In my client’s case her baby was struggling with reflux. Once we had discussed the possibility that it could be the issue and it was followed up by a GP referral, her little boy received medication on a temporary basis and is now so much happier.
Other digestive issues such as allergies and intolerances can also be a reason and it is important to watch out for other symptoms. For further information on the symptoms of cows milk protein allergy see my article here; https://colicsos.com/milk-allergy-in-babies/
It could also be caused by medical issue like reflux or tongue tie, that will only get better once resolved.
It can take time to understand the underlying cause of your baby’s discomfort and it is when we establish why, that is when the colic will pass.
The Fourth Trimester
Your baby may gradually become less colicky between 3 and 4 months old for no apparent reason. You haven’t done anything differently but they just seem to be less fussy. This is usually because they have emerged from the fourth trimester. This first period of their infancy is when they are adjusting to the world. It can be overstimulating, overwhelming and frightening so there isn’t any wonder that a baby may cry. Once they transition through this period, they become more alert, more settled and adjust to the outside world. This is why many people say that colic ends at 3 months old.
When babies arrive, they are not quite ‘cooked’. Their digestive system is immature, along with their circulatory system and their skin is highly sensitive. All this combined can result in colic.
It takes time for milk to be digested and their immature tummies can take awhile to mature enough to do this efficiently. This can result in constipation, grunting baby syndrome, reflux symptoms and gas and air bubbles, all which cause pain and discomfort. Once babies have mastered the art of digestion, this is when a baby seems to cry less and be more comfortable. Again it is between 3 and 6 months of age when this improves.
A baby’s circulation is immature at birth and they cannot control their own body temperature. This means they are highly sensitive to temperature changes. You may notice that your baby’s hands and feet are cold touch and can even have a blueish tinge to them, when the rest of their body is pink and warm. This is a sign of the immaturity as the body works hard to pump blood around the body but the extremities are the first things to cool down and suffer the most from heat loss. Adapting to a change in temperature requires a lot of effort and energy and this can result in distress. For the first 8 weeks of your baby’s life they have zero control over their body temperature. It then begins to improve, although they still remain sensitive to changes and they don’t gain full control until around 18 months old. Therefore, it is those first 2 months where they are incredibly sensitive and their whole body works to try and keep their base temperature at an even 37 degrees. This can be a reason why your baby is distressed and uncomfortable if they are too hot or too cold and it results in relentless crying that is often associated with colic.
A happy ending
Eventually the colic will end as they develop and mature. Although it feels like you will be stuck with a screaming baby and endless sleepless nights, it will get better, I promise. The timing of when it will get better, very much depends on what is causing your baby’s distress in the first place.
How can I help
I have created an online course ‘From Womb to World’ to educate parents on the fourth trimester. Understand your baby’s development, learn how to emulate the womb and learn skills to settle and soothe your baby during this challenging time. For more details on my service click here; https://colicsos.com/colic-sos-fourth-trimester/