Nelly was ready for everything, as she had attended infant care lessons during pregnancy — breastfeeding baby to changing nappies. But, when Landon, her newborn baby boy cried inconsolably, she was worried about what is wrong with her little bundle of joy. She had breastfed him enough. He had a good sleep. He was not hurt. So what else he could be crying for? How could she ease his discomfort? On inquiring the doctor said “Don’t worry, your baby is just colicky.”
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What is Colic?
If your baby is crying non-stop and can’t be soothed by anything, he or she may be suffering from colic. Colic is a condition where your baby experiences abdominal pain caused by gas or indigestion, which can be painful. Find out more about this condition and how you can help your baby feel better. It usually starts a few weeks after your baby is born, and can occur in a baby who is perfectly healthy and exhibits no symptoms of ill health.
What causes Colic?
While there are many theories about colic, there is no single consistent cause that experts all agree upon. There appear to be several contributing factors that, when occurring in combination, are likely to result in colic pain and discomfort.
• An immature digestive system that has just started to process food
• Certain foods eaten by the lactating mother that baby’s body may not take to easily
• Swallowing air while feeding or crying further increases discomfort
• An overload of sights and sounds may disturb baby’s nervous system
• Dairy intolerance
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What are the symptoms?
Apart from inconsolable crying, look out for any of the signs mentioned below to know if your baby is suffering from colic.
Non-stop, intense crying
Your baby is extremely upset for no apparent reason, and will not calm down even when fed, changed and sung to. Watch for whether this happens at the same time every day, although episodes can be random.
Look out for signs of pain or discomfort expressed by your baby, such as clenched fists, tensed muscles and an arched back.
Colic usually does not affect your baby’s appetite but you may find that your baby feeds irregularly.
Gas or distended stomach
See if your baby has a bloated stomach or is passing gas when he or she cries.
A colicky baby may not sleep well. He or she may wake up crying and find it hard to fall asleep again.
How you can help ease your colicky baby?
There are no foolproof methods for soothing a baby with colic as there isn’t really a treatment for colic and different babies respond to different methods. Parents will have to experiment with different methods until they find the ones they work for them. Here are a few methods that may help:
• Holding the baby upright and soothing him or her gently
• Keeping in a calm and soothing environment
• Avoiding bright lights, noise and over-stimulation
• Exposing to some repetitive sound like that of a washing machine
• Swaddling the baby to make him or her feel secure
• Sometimes the opposite works – Undressing your baby or loosening the clothing
• Giving the baby a pacifier lets the baby chew on something
• Burping or rubbing the baby may help release gas
• Give your baby gripe water with a dropper
• Giving the baby a warm bath or massage
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How to prevent your baby from being colic?
If your baby is frequently being colic, here are some precautionary steps, to try to prevent colic episodes:
• Feed the baby more frequently in smaller quantities to help digestion
• Hold the baby upright when feeding rather than lying down to prevent swallowing of air
• Burp your baby after every feed
• Avoid spicy food and caffeine if you are breastfeeding
• Try going dairy-free for a week or so to rule out dairy intolerance
• As always, consult your pediatrician about the range of alternative treatments available.
• There are safe, natural and effective alternatives to pharmaceuticals and artificial chemicals.
Remember that babies are just getting accustomed to this world and, as they grow older, their colic will eventually subside. Their digestive systems will learn how to function well. In the first three months of life, babies are not well-equipped to calm themselves. Self-calming is a skill that develops slowly over time and at different rates in children.