Colic-the word itself strikes fear into the heart of new parents. If a child has diaper rash, or fever, or an ear infection, a doctor can prescribe an ointment, or liquid drops, or another treatment for the problem.
But colic is a different type of problem because it is a vague term that can have many causes. And not just a single way of treating it. But one thing most parents and doctors agree on: colicky babies can be very frustrating.
Some physicians believe that colic is caused by gas. Additionally, newer information suggests that when babies cry, the air they take in may cause the gas that builds up pressure and is uncomfortable and painful.
Some experts think that colic is caused by a baby’s allergic reaction to milk protein. Again, it causes tummy issues that the baby is not able to resolve without your help.
Is there anything you can do to prevent colic? And if your baby has colic, what can you do at home? When should you contact the doctor?
Is it Colic?
Your baby may have colic if you have checked all the usual sources of discomfort and nothing is amiss.
- the diaper is clean and dry.
- baby has recently been fed the normal amount of breast milk or formula.
- baby has had enough sleep and is not tired.
- baby is not too cold or too hot.
- baby is not feverish or showing signs of physical pain.
Sometimes the process of checking for causes may reveal an additional reason for baby’s unhappiness: she wants to be held or needs attention. If you have eliminated all the possible causes of crying and you can’t find anything obviously wrong, it’s possible your baby may be colicky. At that point, you might want to decide whether to call your doctor’s office for advice or make a trip to the clinic.
Some experts say that colic cannot be prevented. But others give the following suggestions:
- Hold your baby upright when feeding, to keep them from swallowing too much air.
- burp them often, especially after feeding.
- with baby lying on a soft, safe surface, use your hands on baby’s feet to gently push baby’s knees toward his stomach a few times between meals. (Like soft sit-ups.)
- Gently massage baby’s tummy at random times during the day. Talk and sing to your child softly and slowly while massaging, and make lots of eye contact. The idea is to keep baby engaged and active and pushing any excess air or gas out of the stomach, and often it is easier to do this when the baby is being distracted.
- Feed your baby smaller amounts more frequently.
- Use a sling to keep baby moving and active and cut down on colicky episodes.
- For expectant moms, avoid stress as much as possible. Upset mommies = upset babies. Just like food and water are shared by mom and her unborn child, your state of mind and emotions also affect your baby.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your pediatrician or other family physician immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- your baby cries in an unusual or odd manner or for an unusual length of time, or
- your baby is crying and also is vomiting, has diarrhea, a fever, or blood or mucus in the stool or diaper.
- if you are concerned for any other reason, please call your doctor. You can never be too concerned, and it’s always safer to have a doctor’s attention and reassurance.
Were you able to help your baby get over colicky episodes? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or suggestion below.