What do you do when you have done all you know to do to comfort your healthy and well-fed newborn but nothing seems to work? When an otherwise healthy and well-fed infant, usually between 2 weeks and 4 months , cries for more than 3 hours a day or more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks, for no apparent reason, the baby is said to be colicky.
Though the cause of colic in newborns is unknown, some believe it might be as a result of at least one of the following factors: Lactose Intolerance or upset tummy caused by the cow’s milk protein, known as lactose, found in some baby formulas; Acid Reflux or heartburn caused by changes in the normal bacteria found in the digestive system, leading to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the baby’s windpipe; Baby’s newly developing nervous or digestive system; Stomach gas, stomach aches, or a fussy mood caused by hormones; Anxious parents, over-sensitivity or over-stimulation by light, noise, etc.; And how baby is fed or comforted.
Colic is short-lived, usually lasting for about 3 to 4 months, but the experience can be very challenging and distressing for mom, baby and even the entire family. If your baby is showing signs of colic, it is always advisable to first consult with your pediatrician to rule out other medical conditions that might be causing your baby’s crying episodes.
If your baby is colicky, the good news is that colic goes away on its own after 3 or 4 months and does not have any permanent medical consequences on your child. Your baby will grow up like every other normal baby would. To help your baby through that phase, here are a few things you may try, one at a time, to help relieve or comfort your infant:
Make sure to give only alcohol-free or Phenobarbital-free gripe water; Probiotics would help maintain the natural balance of the normal or “good” bacteria in your baby’s digestive tract; Gas drops are generally considered safe, except for babies on thyroid replacement medications. Acid reflux medications may help reduce acid production or help move the milk your baby is consuming downstream. It is advisable not to give these four to your infant at the same time. Also, always talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns and before giving your baby any medication, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.
Change Your Baby’s Formula
First try other available cow’s milk formula, if that doesn’t work, then switch to a soy based formula. If that still does not work, then switch from a regular formula to a predigested, hypoallergenic formula. Similac Expert Care Alimentum, Nutramigen, Pregestimil are popular hydrolysate infant formulas you might want to consider. If your baby does not improve after consuming the hydrolysate formulas, you might want to change back to regular formulas which are more affordable.
Change Your Baby’s Feeding Bottles Or The Nipples On The Bottles He Is Currently Using
Certain types of bottles are specifically designed to reduce the amount of air your baby swallows while feeding. Dr. Brown’s, Born-Free and Playtex Ventaire Advance feeding bottles are great options to consider as these bottles were specially designed with colicky babies in mind.
Burp Your Baby Thoroughly And Keep Him Upright After Every Feeding
Burping your baby will help limit the amount of air your baby swallows while feeding. Keeping him upright after every feeding will help reduce the chances of spits-offs. Fisher-Price Newborn Rock n’ Play Sleeper is great for newborns who need to have their heads elevated while napping. The sleeper has calming vibrations and a structured insert that soothes and provides your baby comfort and security.
Watch Your Diet……If You Are Breastfeeding
Your baby will consume what you eat through your breast milk. If you are breastfeeding a colicky baby, it is advisable to avoid alcohol, caffeine, milk, certain vegetables, teas, or herbal supplements. You might also want to discuss your diet with your child’s pediatrician.
It is always advisable to talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns and before giving your baby any medication, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.
Never attempt to shake your baby out of frustration or in an attempt to “shake your baby out of crying”. The blood vessels in a baby’s head cannot tolerate the impact of shaking and can break. When this happens, it is known as “Shaken Baby Syndrome”. The condition, though 100% preventable, can lead to death, brain damage, mental retardation, seizures, or blindness. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that about 1000 children, in the US alone, die every year from the syndrome.
Whenever you feel you are at the end of your rope, it is always advisable to ask for help or take a break and let other family members take over. To overcome the temptation of comparing your baby with other babies, understand that every baby is different. Be patient with your baby, the phase will soon be over.
Also, If your baby is colicky, it might be advisable not to leave your baby alone in the care of a housemaid or nanny-especially for too long- we are not suggesting anything here 🙂