What is Colic?
According to the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin about 20% of babies develop Colic. There is a generally accepted rule of three – if your baby cries inconsolably for more than three hours a day, more than three days per week and is aged between three weeks and three months, he will be diagnosed with colic. . A classic case of colic is where the baby pulls his knees up, clenches his fists, closes his eyes tightly or opens them wide. They may even hold their breath for a short time. Bowel activity increases and your baby may pass ‘wind’.
What Causes Colic?
There is no definitive evidence about what causes colic. However, many health professional agree that it is most likely caused by a digestive disorder.
Some babies may have a Lactose intolerance – lactose intolerance is caused by a shortage or lack of the enzyme required to break down the sugar in milk. Other babies may have a milk allergy – baby’s immature digestive and immune system may not be able to cope with the allergens in cow’s milk based formula, creating an allergic reaction to the milk. Reflux may also be a factor involved. The important thing is to speak to a Health Professional and get a accurate diagnosis and care plan for your baby.
What can you do?
- Breastfeeding mothers should avoid spicy or heavy foods. Dairy products, broccoli, cabbage, beans and coffee may also need to be avoided
- Colicky babies, for some reason, like their tummies supported. When sitting down, place your infant along your forearm, face down, cradling the head in one hand. This takes practice to perfect the technique.
- Slings are invaluable when your baby is crying inconsolably. Just being nestled against your warm chest is comforting, as is your heartbeat.
- Place your infant in a mechanical baby swing. For some reason, the continual and steady back-and-forth motion has calmed many distressed babies.
- Run the vacuum cleaner. The sound is like a lullaby to the ears of some colicky infants. Sometimes, colicky babies respond to the sound of a tumble drier.
- Cut down external stimuli. Sometimes, the more you try to calm a colicky baby, the more he seems to cry. This might be because the baby’s nervous system is too immature to handle any noise. Just hold her in your arms and avoid making any noises or eye contact, which is a form of stimulation.
- Do not pat your baby’s back when burping her as this can irritate an already-inflamed area. Gently rub in circular motions on the left side of back, or rub upwards with baby’s arm straight over your shoulder.
- Burping your infant several times during feeding will help minimise gastric pressure, and the reflux it can cause.
- Look at the feeding technique and ensure the teat is not too free-flowing — I recommend medium flow. If he has taken a good feed and is still fussy, use a dummy to calm him rather than feed again, which will only make him more distressed.
Frank Kelleher, Cranial Osteopath has been treating babies and children for over 15 years. He can give you advice for all your concerns regarding your baby’s colic or feeding problems.
Frank Kelleher Cranial Osteopath
Elmwood Lodge, Frankfield, Douglas, Cork. Tel: 021 4364750