When your newborn is screaming in distress for hours on end for what seems like no reason, it can be frustrating and frightening for parents and family as you search for answers for ease and relief for your tiny mite. A newborn suffering from colic can disturb the family harmony and leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, angry, guilty, anxious, and filled with self-doubt.
Colic is a common condition affecting 1 in 5 babies in the first month of life, regardless of whether they’re breast or formula-fed. The most common causes of colic are parents misreading their infants’ cues, inadequate handling, and poor feeding techniques.
Colic Versus Reflux: Often confused with colic, reflux in babies can make an appearance around the same stage and display similar symptoms, however they have different responses. Reflux is the movement of fluids, food, or acid from a baby’s stomach into their oesophagus or throat and may cause them to spit up. Reflux is caused by baby not latching and taking the feed properly, a predominantly fluid diet and lying flat too much of the time which results in restless feeding, crying, vomiting, and failure to thrive (not gaining weight or growth). Frequent chest infections may occur as stomach contents enter the windpipe and lungs. Common in the first three months, reflux causes your baby to be niggly and fussy throughout the day with reflux usually stopping by 12 months.
According to the Mayo Clinic the cause of colic is unknown. It may result from numerous contributing factors and varies in intensity among infants. What the medical experts do know is that in almost all instances, colic resolves itself in its own time and your newborn should grow out of it and, most importantly, it is not harmful to your child.
Colicky Cries: Colic is expressed by intense crying and painful screaming, which is a different sound to that of cries of hunger or a wet nappy. Babies will clench their fists, tense the abdominal muscles, and arch their back. Colicky babies usually cry in spells mostly occurring around the same time at night disrupting baby’s and your sleep patterns.
Colicky Causes: Colic may be due to baby’s immature digestive system making it harder to digest food when they are still infants. Their developing digestive system may have an imbalance of healthy bacteria, or it could be due to a food or cow’s milk intolerance causing muscles to spasm, gas, and stomach pain. This supports the rule that no baby under six months of age should be given solid foods (even watery rice milk) as their digestion system is not developed adequately to process anything else but breastmilk.
A colicky baby may also have a sensitivity to light, noise and excess stimulation of fear, frustration, or excitement at a time their nervous system is still developing. It may also be a form of childhood migraine. Often parents think their child is crying with hunger resulting in overfeeding and infrequent burping which worsens the symptoms. Colic may also be brought on by family stress and anxiety.
A colicky baby is often identified by the 333 rule; your baby cries for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week and for longer than three weeks in an infant who is well-fed and otherwise healthy. They may burp often or pass a lot of gas, but this may also be due to swallowing air while crying.
Stress Management & Colic: It is important to discuss your baby’s specific symptoms and your concerns with your local clinic sister or pediatrician to rule out all possibilities. Constant crying is extremely stressful for parents and statistics back the increased risk of postpartum depression in mothers, early termination of breast-feeding and feelings of guilt, exhaustion, helplessness, or anger. The stress of calming a crying baby can lead to parents shaking or otherwise harming the child. Shaken baby syndrome is when an adult severely shakes a baby out of frustration or anger causing a form of head injury when baby’s brain rebounds inside their skull when shaken, causing bruising of the brain, swelling, pressure, and bleeding (intracerebral hemorrhage) which can easily lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death.
Soothing Support for Colic: Commonly, there is no need to treat colic and medications are generally not advised. However, if your baby develops colic a medical professional can guide you. See a doctor immediately if your baby develops colic after a fall, injury or illness or has a bluish hue to the skin or lips during a crying fit, or if they eat, sleep, or behave differently.
Evidence shows that baby chiropractic adjustments significantly improve colic symptoms. When baby’s spine and nervous system are misaligned, their digestive system becomes dysfunctional, and infants respond with intense crying. A slight spine adjustment can support baby’s digestive system to start working again by stimulating their nerve flow to their small intestines and increase peristalsis that helps push gas and liquid through.
Avoid overfeeding, only give your infant the recommended amount. Wind baby properly during and after feeding, positioned against your shoulder with smooth but firm upwards strokes. Hold them upright for 30 mins after feeding. Take turns with your partner caring for your colic-stressed child so you can take a break and get some rest.
Anti-Colic Technology with Parents & Baby in mind:
Thanks to modern technology available today, there are amazing products to support your journey as a parent in soothing, caring for and preventing a colicky baby. When a baby is upset and you are tired, the new Vital Baby SOOTHE collection of pacifiers has been developed to provide a solution to help soothe babies when they need it most. The Airflow Soother 0-6 months Adventure and Glow in the Dark soothers R128.70 feature symmetrical teats to make the soother easy for baby to hold in their mouth. The 100% soft silicone is taste and odour-free and comfortable for baby while the wide-open Airflow shield helps to protect delicate cheeks against skin irritation.
You can support new mums from exhaustion and burn out by stepping in and giving feeds so she can take a break. The Vital Baby Electric Breast Pump Gift Set R2199.99 is a gift of love which allows new mums to pump and store breastmilk in the freezer until it can by used for a feed by a partner or carer. This comprehensive set includes all you need to pump, store, and feed your newborn.
The Vital Baby Breast-like feeding bottle (240ml) in a Twin Pack for R264.70 are anti-colic bottles which reduce air ingestion and with their flexcone teat it mimics mums nipple shape and provides teat flex and flow for the most breast like natural feed.
Naturally soothe colic pain by lying baby skin to skin with you in a dark, quiet room. Some babies like to be swaddled snugly in a blanket. If you need to do things, wrap the baby onto your back or front while you move about. You can also lay them across your lap and gently rub their back. Ease away pain by placing the baby in a warm bath and gently massage their tummies or place a warm water bottle on their belly. Rocking soothes babies and you can take them for a car or pram ride if the weather is balmy. You may want to join a community support group with other mums to share your struggles and to hear what they are doing to love and soothe the colic away.
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