How To Help A Baby With Colic
What is colic?
Colic is a condition when a baby is observed to be crying inconsolably for several minutes or hours on end with no apparent reason. It occurs in babies regardless of their health condition. Most babies experience colicin the first 3 months after birth and start to “recover” by age of 9 months. It occurs so suddenly and with no warning or precedent signs that it causes worry and eventually frustration on parents and caregivers.
What causes colic?
Doctors and researchers have yet to figure out why a baby gets colic. Inconclusive studies have yet to disprove the fact that colic is due to gas, but some evidence is seen that trapped gas is the primary cause of colic. There are some conditions that can precipitate the onset of colic.
1) A house full of stress can cause your baby to get upset, thereby causing stress and producing colic.
2) Overfeeding can also trigger or worsen colic. Most parents and caregivers are raised to believe that a baby cries because she is hungry, so they feed the baby more. Distinguishing your baby’s cry between that of hunger or colic may save both of you some frustration.
3) On the same note, colic is not caused by improper care. It is not your fault that your baby is crying inconsolably, contrary to what your parents, in-laws, or neighbors would say.
4) Studies have shown that most babies that are bottle-fed or formula-fed experience colic in higher incidences compared to breast-feeding babies. It is said that the nipples and sucking behavior of babies during bottle-feeding can cause them to ingest air, leading to colic.
5) GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is also associated with colic. But if your baby is vomiting, having diarrhea with bloody stool, your baby’s inconsolable crying is not related to colic.
How will I know if my baby has colic?
A baby is believed to have colic when she cries intensely and inconsolably on the same hour each day for more than three hours. This can occur up to 3 times in a week, and up to or more than 3 weeks in a month. While your baby cries, she would show these following behaviors:
- Crying will start after feeding, starting and ending abruptly. This crying usually occurs during night time.
- Clenched fist
- Arched back
- Legs pulled up to their bellies
Your baby will also show a bloated or distended stomach, which anchors the theory that colic might be due to gas. If your baby has projectile vomiting, fever, diarrhea, lethargic, and has no appetite, consult your pediatrician immediately for these are not indicative of colic and warrants immediate medical attention.
How will I help my baby?
Since the cause is not fully established as to why your baby is having colic, a definite treatment is still also unknown. However, there are several ways for you to help your baby to help ease his distress.
- If your baby has shown signs of being full like thrusting out her tongue to push the nipple out of her mouth, cease feeding her. Overfeeding only makes your baby’s colic worse.
- Never offer a pacifier to calm a crying baby with colic. Your baby will only ingest more air, causing further discomfort.
- Always burp your baby after each feeding. This would help expel ingested air and prevent gas from accumulating in your baby’s stomach during each feeding.
- Sooth your baby by gently walking around or dancing. The motion, as well as your warmth, will help your baby relax and soothe her colic.
- A baby carrier or sling often works wonders for a baby with colic. Your baby will still be soothed while your arms and hands are free to rest.
- Have your doctor recommend a safe probiotic for your baby. The probiotic will help your baby’s digestive system and can lessen the incidence of the intensity of colic.
Having to deal with colic is never easy. When you feel all frazzled up and frustrated and feel that you may harm your baby, set your baby down in a crib and go to another room and relax a bit. Just make sure that your baby is safe and secure, and never leave her for more than 10 minutes. It would never help to slap your baby to stop it from crying, and shaking your baby can cause some severe neurological problems. Make sure you have an adequate diet and sleep to help you cope with your baby’s condition. Sleep when your baby sleeps, for sleep deprivation will decrease your stress tolerance and that can also affect your baby. You may want to join a support group so you have someone who is familiar with what you’re going through when you talk about your frustrations in dealing with colic.