Colic is a common condition affecting one in five babies in the first month of life, regardless of whether they’re breast or formula-fed.
A newborn suffering from colic can disturb the family harmony and leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, angry, guilty, anxious, and filled with self-doubt.
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.
Read more about chiropractic and childhood ailments here.
Colic versus reflux
Reflux in babies is often confused with colic and can show similar symptoms at the same stage. However, they have different responses.
Reflux is when fluids, food, or acid from a baby’s stomach move into their oesophagus or throat, leading to spitting up. It can be caused by issues like improper latching during feeding, a predominantly fluid diet, or lying flat too often. This may result in restless feeding, crying, vomiting, and failure to gain weight or grow.
Reflux can also cause frequent chest infections if stomach contents enter the windpipe and lungs. It’s common in the first three months, making babies niggly and fussy throughout the day. Typically, reflux resolves by 12 months.
According to Mayo Clinic, the cause of colic is unknown. It may result from numerous contributing factors and varies in intensity among infants. What 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. Most importantly, it’s not harmful to your child.
A baby with colic will cry intensely and scream in pain – a very different sound to cries of hunger or discomfort from 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.
Possible causes of colic
Colic in infants is often linked to their immature digestive system, which can struggle to process food effectively. It could also be due to an imbalance of healthy bacteria in their developing digestive system or be caused by a food or cow’s milk intolerance, leading to muscle spasms, gas, and stomach pain.
This reinforces the importance of adhering to the rule that babies under six months of age should only be given breastmilk as their digestive system is not yet fully developed to handle solid foods or even watery rice milk. Providing exclusive breastmilk or formula during this stage ensures the best support for their digestive health.
Often parents think their child is crying from hunger, which results in overfeeding and infrequent burping that worsens the symptoms.
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 gas frequently, but this may also be due to swallowing air while crying.
Soothing support for colic
Colic usually does not require treatment, and medications are generally not recommended. However, if your baby experiences colic, it’s essential to seek guidance from a medical professional. Immediately consult a doctor if your baby develops colic after a fall, injury, or illness, or if they exhibit a bluish hue to the skin or lips during crying episodes. Additionally, if they display changes in eating, sleeping, or behaviour, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.
Sometimes, baby chiropractic adjustments can be effective in alleviating colic symptoms. When a baby’s spine and nervous system are misaligned, it can lead to dysfunction in their digestive system, resulting in intense crying. However, a gentle spinal adjustment can help restore proper function to the baby’s digestive system.
To prevent overfeeding, ensure you give your infant the recommended amount of food. Properly wind your baby during and after feeding by holding them against your shoulder and using gentle, upward strokes. Keep your baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding. Share caregiving responsibilities with your partner to give each other breaks and get some much-needed rest while caring for your colic-stressed child.
In a nutshell
- Naturally soothe colic pain by holding your baby skin to skin in a dark, quiet room
- Swaddling snugly in a blanket can also provide comfort
- Use a baby carrier to keep them close while you move around
- Gentle back rubs can be soothing when laying them across your lap
- A warm bath and tummy massage or a warm water bottle on their belly can help ease the pain
- Rocking or taking them for a car or pram ride may also provide relief
- Consider joining a community support group with other moms to share experiences and discover various ways to love and soothe colic away.
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