Colic is a word dreaded by most parents. It is typified by sudden and unexplained outbursts of inconsolable crying. Colic tends to follow the rule of threes, often beginning within the first three weeks, lasting for at least three hours a day, and rarely continuing for more than three months. During the crying spells the baby may be resistant to all efforts at soothing, even if otherwise she is a healthy and happy baby.
What starts off colic in babies?
Speculation is endless but the exact cause remains a mystery. It is commonly believed to be caused by excessive swallowing of air, overfeeding or underfeeding, allergies, a change in the mothers diet, etc. Since the crying usually starts in the late afternoon, it could also be caused by fatigue, excitement or over-stimulation.
Colic is more common in bottle-fed babies than breast fed babies.
Some useful techniques to deal with colic:
- Keep a record of his crying episodes.
– When do they occur, what seems to trigger it off and what turns it off?
– Where do you feel the pain is coming from?
– What does the baby’s face, abdomen and extremities look like during the episode?
– Does your baby gulp air when he feeds?
– Does he pass a lot of gas?
– What are his bowel movements like and how frequent?
– Does he spit up and if so how frequently?
– Does he have other symptoms like diaper rash.
This will help you see a pattern from which a solution might emerge. These details are also useful when consulting a pediatrician.
- Consult a pediatrician to determine if there’s a medical cause for the crying.
- Weigh your baby regularly. Regular weight gain is a sign he’s eating enough as sometimes colic is also associated with under feeding
- Test for food allergies. Try altering your diet if you’re breast-feeding . eliminating one food at a time so as to identify which one is irritating your baby. For a bottle-fed baby, change from cow’s milk to formula or vice versa.
- Anticipate the attack. Normally it occurs at the same time everyday. See if rocking, singing or taking her for a drive or a walk will help in preventing the crying bout.
- Use calming techniques such as rhythmic rocking, walking with him held close to you. Try placing him on his stomach from time to time to relieve gas.
- Put him on your stomach as this gives him a sense of closeness to you. Also his stomach is pressed to relieve gas and the heat of your body acts like a hot water bottle.
- Try shortening the time between feedings to feed smaller amounts, more often.
- Burp the child during and after feeds, whether feeding by breast or bottle.
- Take a break. Let someone else look after the baby. The parent’s anxiety when faced with persistent crying can make colic worse.
- Never assume that the crying indicates any inadequacy on your part. Don’t worry about what others think – almost all parents have been through this phase.
- Remember – this too shall pass.
- Medicines for colic are available, but should be used sparingly. Some of the traditional remedies are safer and more effective. Check out our Home Remedies for colic.