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Gas, Colic, or Reflux?

Bundoo Pediatrician
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Gas, Colic, or Reflux?

Let’s discuss every new parent’s worst nightmare…how to know the difference between regular gas, colic, and reflux. So let’s hear it! Is your baby fussy for hours at a time with no obvious cause? How do you know if your baby has regular gas, colic, or if something more serious is going on? What is colic, anyway? Join the discussion to learn more!

Comments

  1. How do I know if my baby has colic?

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    1. Hi Amanda! Colic is defined as a baby who cries more than 3 hours a day for more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks. So in other words, there is no other explanation for the crying such as being hungry, wet, tired, etc. Usually colic begins at 2-3 weeks old and can last for 3-4 months. Are you worried your baby has colic?

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      1. Yes I am because sometimes he’s very fussy for no apparent reason and I get frustrated and very sad because I don’t know what to do being a first time mom

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      2. Yes I am because sometimes he’s very fussy for no apparent reason and I get frustrated and very sad because I don’t know what to do being a first time mom

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  2. We thought our first had colic but it turned out to be silent reflux. Our lives changed the day we got that diagnosis because she responded well to the reflux prescription. Are colic and reflux commonly confused (particularly silent reflux since symptoms are harder to identify)?

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    1. Great question Molly! Reflux can often be a cause of frequent crying in little ones, and silent reflux can often be difficult to diagnose because your baby may not be showing classic signs like spitting up, arching the back, etc. Often an astute pediatrician will suspect reflux, particularly if the crying occurs with or right after feeds or if the baby is not gaining weight well. The crying associated with colic, on the other hand, often occurs at the same time each day, usually in the late afternoon and evenings. So glad to hear the anti-reflux meds helped your baby!

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      1. Best explanation of the difference I have seen. Thank you!

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  3. Great topic Dr. Kristie! I am sure lots of (exhausted) moms would love to hear some tips on how to survive this period with their sanity intact…

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  4. Is colic and reflux is the safe thing. Does reflux goes away by it self. I think my baby has reflux I tthink

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    1. No, they are definitely not the same. Colic involves periods of intense crying that lasts for at least 3 hours at a time several days a week with no identifiable explanation. Reflux is actually a medical condition that occurs when the acidic stomach contents come back up into the baby’s esophagus. This can cause a baby a lot of pain, leading to crying. It can also cause more obvious symptoms such as spitting up, but certainly doesn’t have to, as some babies can have silent reflux. Most babies will outgrow reflux in the first year of life and most don’t need to be treated with medications, unless they are in severe pain or aren’t gaining weight well.

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      1. Dr. When u comment in someone that reflux one of the sign is because your baby may not be showing classic signs like have arching the back. Why do they have that

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  5. When does colics goes away for them

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    1. Colic symptoms improve by 3 months in 60% of babies and by 4 months in 90%. Not sure how old your baby is but hope you are nearing the end of this stretch! I know a few short months can seem like an eternity when your baby has colic!!!

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      1. Dr rivers I also want to know why my baby doesn’t like his pacifier. I try different ones. I wish he could take so he won’t ask alot milk

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  6. How do you soothe a baby who had colic?

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    1. Hi Chelsea! There are a variety of techniques you can try to soothe a baby with colic, but there is no one trick that works with every baby. Some babies are soothed by movement, whether it be a rocker, swing or car ride. Other babies prefer calming or rhythmic noises such as a dryer, white noise machine or fan. Some babies are overstimulated by their environment and need to be taken to a quiet, dark room to calm down. Some babies will be calmed by a pacifier or nursing, others by swaddling. My babies particularly liked to be held with their stomachs facing down across an arm or knees, which put pressure on their little tummies. Every baby responds differently, so part of the challenge of colic is finding what works best for your little one. Best of luck!

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  7. My 9 week old son is inconsolable usually from the hours of 6pm-10pm. Usually after hours of trying everything he ends up falling asleep while I am nursing him. I hate to start bad habits but it’s the only thing that calms him down.

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    1. Of all the “bad habits” that doesn’t like one to worry about, especially at 9 weeks! How are you hanging in there? The constant crying can really wear on even the most patient parents.

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      1. Ya I guess I’m not too worried of it becoming a bad habit. I guess I’d really just like to know why the constant crying!?
        Things are great, even with all the crying. How are thing with you?

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        1. Well luckily my colic and reflux troubles were with my first child. I have a 10-month-old now who didn’t struggle with this and is a pretty laid back baby… But I will never forget the around-the-clock crying with my first. Anytime I hear someone going through that, I do anything I can to help!

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      2. Molly, I agree completely. I think every parent of a colicky baby needs to identify someone they can call when they are feeling overwhelmed. Even a few minutes away from the baby can give you time to clear your head and re-energize for the next few hours of crying!

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    2. Hang in there Brigid! The good news is that 60% of babies outgrow colic by 12 weeks and 90% by 16 weeks. So while I know that seems like an eternity to you right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel!!! And I would not worry at all about starting bad habits this early. I really believe you cannot spoil a new baby, so you just need to do what works to make it through this really difficult time. As the colicky symptoms subside, then you can start working on a feeding/sleeping schedule. For now, you just need to survive!

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      1. Thank you Dr. Rivers! It’s nice to hear “do what you have to do to survive” without fear of starting bad habits.

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        1. It is so true! Those first 3-4 months of a newborn’s life are just so hard and intense and crazy sometimes, especially when you are so sleep deprived. The best advice I ever got with my own little ones was to remember “this too shall pass.” Before you know it, these difficult days will be a distant memory 🙂

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  8. How do I know if my baby has reflux? Also my baby only wants to be worn by me to sleep and take naps. How to i get away from this? He is only two weeks old and will not get good quality naps unless I wear him in a moby. If I don’t I run the risk of him being over tired and him crying for hours. We have tried everything -a rock and play, bassinet etc

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    1. Hi Lisa! Congrats on your new little one! It is so common for brand new babies to have a hard time sleeping at first. He is so used to being right there with you feeling your every movement, so it’s not surprising that he still wants to be with you all the time. You don’t need to worry about creating bad habits at this early age. And if your baby begins showing signs of colic with hours of excessive crying, this may be a great way to console him. I would suggest getting him used to sleeping on a flat surface at night, when it is not safe for him to sleep on you. Eventually, once he gets used to a crib at night, you can begin putting him down in the day as well. As far as reflux, most babies who have reflux spit up quite a bit. Some babies will be fussy from the acid coming up their esophagus. I would recommend talking to your baby’s pediatrician if you are worried about reflux in your little guy.

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  9. I’m struggling with the different between just regular gas and colic. He cries mainly after feedings. So I changed the formula. He still squirms every now and then. Plus he hasn’t pooped in a few days. Are colic and gas very similar?

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    1. Hi Lauren! Gas can certainly play a role in making your baby fussy, but it has not been shown to be the cause of colic. Colic is defined as regular periods of crying, usually at the same time every day, often in the evening. Some parents find relief with gas medications such as simethicone, while others don’t really see an improvement. You can try baby massage or bicycling movements of his legs to help with the gas and constipation. You might want to talk to your pediatrician about the formula you are feeding to see if there might be a better fit for him. By the way, here’s a link to one of our constipation articles to try and give your little guy some relief. http://www.bundoo.com/articles/baby-constipation-under-6-months-of-age/

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  10. So Thursday my little guy will be 12 weeks and to me he has gotten so much better in the last 2-3 weeks. But the 3 days out of the week I work when my mother or husband watch him they claim all he does is cry. Could he still be colicky?

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    1. Hi Kim! Definitely still could be colic, although it’s great news that you are starting to see an improvement. That’s to be expected as 60% of babies outgrow their colic by 3 months and 90% by 4 months. And since it’s not like an on/off switch, you will likely see a slow improvement over the next few weeks. But hang in there! Life is about to get easier! 🙂

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  11. Does colic actually hurt your baby physically, either during or later after it goes away?

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    1. Hi Roxanne! Don’t worry, colic has not been shown to have any current or lasting effects on your baby. Some researchers think colic is likely due to a baby’s immature nervous system causing him or her to not be able to self-regulate. As a baby matures, this problem goes away as the baby learns to regulate and deal with their environment. Of course, if you are concerned your baby may be crying because of pain, it’s always a good idea for him or her to be checked out by your pediatrician.

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      1. Thank you! Are there any meds for colic, like Colic Calm or Gripe Water, that actually work?

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        1. While you can certainly try these products, and some parents swear by them, the studies show that they are no better than placebo, meaning that they do not work any better than if you gave your baby nothing! Just make sure to read all the ingredients before you give any “natural” herbal supplements to your baby. If you have any questions about the ingredients, be sure to show it to your pediatrician first!

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  12. My baby is one month old she was having unsoothable fits every night at the hours of 10 pm till 4 am I cut out dairy about two weeks ago and that really seemed to help with occasionally bad night here or there I am trying to find my diet path to support her self diagnosed dairy issue… I have breastfed twice before and have never had such an unhappy baby.. she was sucking too much air and explosive diarrhea until I stopped dairy but now even things like tuna and cucumber seems to upset her stomach my poor family thinks she doesn’t like anyone but me because she is always crying and I’m near starving trying to figure out what she can or can’t handle… Should I try a probiotic.. anything.. something to make this baby not seem tortured

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    1. Hi Kathryn! I’m so sorry your baby is so miserable. Don’t suffer through this alone. Your pediatrician is happy to help you problem solve these issues. They will evaluate her growth, stools and pattern of feeding and make some suggestions to help. Hang in there!

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      1. Switched to soy formula and now the occasional fuss but she is better I’m so sad my breast milk wasn’t working for her..

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  13. I bought Baby’s magic tea by secrets of tea a few days ago. My baby was diagnosed with colicky. I cut dairy for weeks, I tried gripe water, gas drops, tummy massages, anti-colic bottles, colic drops, probiotics, memento belly band, warm bath at bedtime, Windi; you freaking name it, I bought and tried EVERYTHING. Nothing. Worked. He would cry/scream for HOURS at bedtime.

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