Distinct Beginning and End
Crying episodes in a baby with colic usually have a distinct beginning and end. These episodes also tend to occur more in the evening. They begin suddenly for no apparent reason, with mood having no effect. Colicky infants may be happy, sad, eating, sleeping, or playing before the crying begins.
Louder and More Intense
Babies with colic have cries that seem different than the "normal crying." They can be louder, more intense, and higher-pitched than the standard cry. It can sound as if they are in pain or screaming rather than crying. Terms used by parents to describe this crying include piercing, grating, urgent, distressing, and irritating, to name a few.
Can't Be Soothed
Colicky infants can be difficult, if not impossible, to soothe, regardless of all efforts. Also, even when the crying episode improves, the fussiness may remain. Relief of a colicky episode may occur following the passing of gas or a bowel movement.
Increased Muscle Tone
Infants with colic may also show an increase in muscle tone during a crying episode. Some signs and symptoms of increased muscle tone in a colicky baby include:
- Bloated and tense stomach (abdomen)
- Legs drawn up to the abdomen, but occasionally extending during forceful cries
- Clenched fingers
- Stiff, tight, and extended arms (the elbows may also be flexed)
- An arched back.
A baby with colic symptoms is a frustrating problem -- not only for the infant, but also for the entire family. Fortunately, it is a condition that improves with time. Symptoms often stop as unexpectedly as they began. In fact, 90 percent of infants with colic have improved symptoms by four months of age.
If you think that your baby has colic, talk to your healthcare provider. There are recommendations that he or she can make based on your child's signs to help everyone get through this challenging period.