WHAT IS COLIC?
All babies cry, usually 1 or 2 hours each day. It’s their way of telling you that they’re wet, hungry, tired, in pain, or lonely. But some babies cry more than usual. If a baby cries for over 3 hours daily, a minimum of 3 days every week, it’s Colic.
Colic is common, seen in up to 1 out of three infants. It always starts when the baby is between 2 and 4 weeks old and usually disappears at around three months old. The symptoms can vary in how intense and how frequently it happens. A baby affected by Colic is sometimes healthy, feeds appropriately, has a good appetite, and appears completely fine when not crying.
Colic shows up as bouts of irritability with crying. It’s more common during the afternoon, evening, and night-time hours when the baby gets tired.
None of the same old methods to calm a baby seem to work during Colic; neither feeding, holding, or rocking stops the crying. A typical crying spell usually lasts 4 or 5 minutes. When it’s over, the baby relaxes and goes to sleep. You’ll often hear movement within the intestines and gases bubbling within the stomach.
The concept of Colic comes from the standard view of the problem being caused by cramps within the gastrointestinal system.
WHAT CAUSES COLIC?
Colic usually starts during the baby’s second or third week and peaks at the end of her sixth to the eighth week. In contrast to regular infant crying, attempts to stop colic-induced sessions by feeding, burping, rocking, or changing the diaper aren’t effective. This problem usually goes away after 3 to 4 months.
The reason for a baby’s Colic is tough to work out. But, in line with international studies, bottle-fed children are even as likely to develop Colic as breastfed children. If the breastfeeding mother is eating or drinking any dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, etc.), these substances can be transferred to the baby.
WAYS TO PREVENT COLIC:
Are you unsure what to do if your child is suffering from colic? Experts suggest that parents use the “Five S’s” strategy to mimic the womb environment.
Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, developed this method by combining five techniques that mothers commonly use and organizing them into an easy mnemonic: swaddle, side-stomach position, shush, swing, and suck.
Wrap your baby’s arms around their sides snugly, but leave the legs loose and flexed to allow the hips to move.
SIDE STOMACH POSITION
Place your baby’s head in your hand and place her across your forearm or lap. Whenever a crying baby is lying on his side or stomach, it’s easiest to soothe him. (It’s crucial to remember that babies should never sleep on their sides or stomachs, as this increases the risk of SIDS.)
Try to give the baby a feeling of the womb by using white-noise audio files or radio static. It might also work to record rain or even the sound of a hairdryer. These noises may be loud to you, but they are soothing to babies because they are similar to what they heard in the womb.
Babies are calmed by a slow, smooth motion. “Holding and rocking won’t spoil the baby,” Dr. Karp assures. “Babies were held and rocked 24/7 in the uterus, so even holding your baby for 18 hours a day is a significant cutback for your baby.” Try holding your baby for long as possible as this may significantly help tackle the colicky situation.
In the first few months of life, babies have a strong sucking urge, and satisfying that urge can quickly calm a fussy baby. Give your baby a pacifier if he or she is colicky. While it may be turned down by some breastfed babies, it will provide immediate relief to others.
OTHER WAYS TO PREVENT COLIC
AVOIDING DAIRY AND GAS INDUCING FOODS
If you are breastfeeding, consumption of dairy or gas-inducing foods like cauliflower and cabbage may contribute to the baby’s colic symptoms, a primary step can be to remove all dairy and gas-inducing foods for 3 or 4 days. This usually works in about 1 out of 5 colicky babies. If avoiding these products works, keep doing this.
But make sure that you receive enough calcium — calcium supplements can help. If you’re bottle-feeding, see what’s within the formula. Some formulas support cow’s milk; they’re likely to cause Colic in some babies. Experimenting with different recipes may help solve the problem.
PREVENTING TRAPPED AIR
Try reducing the amount of air your child is swallowing by being aware of what’s happening at mealtime. Does the baby suck vigorously? Is it easier to burp them if you’re taking small breaks within the feeding? Is it better to get the baby on their tummy after the meal, perhaps slightly elevated with most of the body? Are the holes within the baby bottle’s nipple too small or too big? Are there other things within the environment that might contribute to the unrest?
Keeping a check on these while you baby feed can tell you a lot about what is exactly causing Colic.
PEACE AND SECURITY
Parents worry when their baby cries and they’re unable to comfort the kid. The baby might sense that worry and react by crying even more. Also, when calling, the baby swallows air continuously, and this vicious cycle continues. It is, therefore, advisable to remain calm during this stressful situation. The crying spells probably don’t mean that there’s anything seriously wrong with the baby or with you as a parent. But if the doctor hasn’t already confirmed that your baby has Colic, ensure you confirm with the doctor first to make sure that nothing more serious goes on.
Some colicky children do better in peaceful surroundings. You may try limiting the number of noise and other kinds of stimulation, particularly during feedings. Examine the baby and calm with them in soothing, loving tones. Try a baby massage, gently patting and stroking your child. Try putting on some soft, peaceful music that you just liked to pay attention to after the crying spells after you were pregnant. Put the baby in your lap and gently, slowly rock in an exceedingly rocker or hammock. Sometimes, these methods work pretty well.
Many parents find that colicky babies may calm when taken for a ride in the car (secured during a seat, of course). In the womb, babies are exposed to a lot of movement. If you get your baby moving, he or she may fall asleep quickly. Make a swing for them. In a rocking chair, cradle them. Placing them in a vibrating infant seat is a good idea. You can even go for a drive in your car, but don’t drive if you’re too tired.
It’s essential to use these methods at an early stage. The effect gradually wears off when the baby grows over three months old, and it’s not going to help anymore. Babies at that age are difficult to distract, and they may have learned to get some comfort from screaming.
MEDICINES AND HERBS
Some babies respond well to fennel or caraway tea. These Herbs can be found in the seasonings section of the grocery store or health food store. Boil one teaspoon in 3-1/2 ounces of water for 2 minutes. Let the mixture steep for two more minutes. Then, strain with a strainer or some cheesecloth. Give one teaspoon to the child at each feeding.
A doctor trained in homeopathy can prescribe a natural remedy that may help, too.
Some doctors recommend simethicone drops, which get rid of some of the intestinal gases. These drops work very well, and they usually have no side effects. Ask your doctor or the local pharmacist for some guidance. In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe something more robust.
Take note of what soothes your baby (or what doesn’t). This will help understand the best solution for restoring peace at your home and providing comfort to your child. Schedule an appointment with your child’s physician to discuss any symptoms. Also, seek their advice before seeking any over-the-counter treatment options.