How to tell if your child is suffering from colic

Share this article with other mums

The word 'Colic' has been haunting parents for ages. It sounds like a condition that needs treatment. In all probability, your child is just going through a period of PURPLE crying!

Imagine this scenario.

Your baby is her bouncy self during the day. She just completed 2 weeks in this world. She is content, feeds properly and gives an occasional smile. But when the clock strikes 6, she is an entirely different person! She starts to cry A LOT! Nothing you do soothes her. You start wondering where you are going wrong… Is she getting enough milk? Is she tired? Are you holding her correctly? She keeps on crying and your self-doubt deepens.

Does this sound familiar?

“Yes”, you may say, “she is suffering from colic”

Well, new evidence has come to the surface and it changes the way experts think about crying. In most of such cases, the crying is a normal phenomenon. The use of the word ‘colic’ is gradually becoming redundant. Dr Ronald Barr, the Canada Research Chair in Community Child Health Research at the University of British Columbia describes it as the period of PURPLE crying.


What is the Period of PURPLE crying?

PURPLE is an acronym that explains the crying pattern during this phase. The baby’s crying gradually increases and Peaks around 2 months and then starts to wane. It is often without any triggering factor, thus Unexpected. The crying is Resistant to soothing and the baby often makes a Pain-like face, even though she is not in pain. The crying is Long-lasting and it generally happens during late afternoons and Evenings.

From this, you can be sure of three things

  • All babies cry, some more others less
  • It is a period: there is a start and more importantly, an end to it
  • It is not your fault: you are not doing anything wrong

You may be wondering, is this just a fancy way of describing colic? Let us see what colic is and how this is a better way of understanding the crying for parents.

How is this different from colic?

In 1954, a brilliant paediatrician, Dr Wessel, proposed a definition for colic. Colic is defined by the Wessel’s rule of 3:

‘A healthy baby with periods of intense, unexplained fussing and crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks.’

At that time, this was a game-changer as very little research was available about crying. So it is not surprising that he was the doctor not just for children but for the whole family. A baby’s cry makes everyone doubt where they are going wrong. Dr Wessel helped parents understand that they were not at fault.

However, this definition poses two main issues. To start with, it would let someone believe that some babies have colic whereas others do not. The second issue and the most important of all is that it makes us believe that it is a ‘condition’ and thus, warrants treatment. A recent study shows that there is no ‘effective treatment’ for colic. Another study, albeit a slightly older one, states that the contemporary ‘treatments’ did not perform better than placebos. At the best, if the babies are allergic to certain proteins found in the food, the mother would have to make some dietery modifications.

Why your baby is not ‘Suffering’ from colic? Read on to find out

Baby Baby Behaviour Newborn Behaviour