Baby colic also known as infantile colic is where a baby cries uncontrollably but there is no obvious cause. Occurring in 1 in 5 infants the periods of crying can go on for hours at a time, normally at the same time and generally later on in the day. This is more than just the witching hour and babies are very distressed with clenched fists, flailing legs and an unhappy red face.
The exact cause of colic is not known but overstimulation, an immature digestive system, reflux, food allergies and sensitivity and tobacco exposure can all contribute.
The good news is that colic does not last. It generally peaks around six weeks but starts to taper off by ten to twelve weeks. Colic can stop suddenly or end gradually but there are things you can do to help comfort your baby during this time.
Reflux is caused by pressure on the stomach or an allergy and occurs in healthy infants multiple times a day. As the lower esophageal sphincter is not fully matured it can allow the contents of the stomach to flow backwards which is acidic and causes a burning sensation. The infant can then spill, vomit, be irritable during feeding, have difficulty feeding or refuse to feed altogether.
Again it usually clears up by itself but you can reduce reflux and help comfort your baby during this time.
Here are my guidelines to ease symptoms of both colic and reflux:
* Give your baby frequent feedings rather than one large one. Burp several times during the feed and then keep baby upright for 30 minutes afterwards.
* Make sure that your baby is receiving enough hindmilk which is higher in fibre. It calms the stomach and aids digestion. If your babies poo is greenish, frothy or mucuosy this in an indication that they are getting too much foremilk which can cause digestive distress. Drinking only foremilk can happen early on in breastfeeding with overactive let down or over supply issues but also the dreaded snacking!
* If a baby does not latch correctly they can swallow too much air which in turn can contribute to reflux and colic. Babies can also be tongue tied or lip tied. Seek the help of a certified lactation consultant if your health visitor cannot help you.
* If your are bottle feeding make sure you are using the correct size teat. Too large or too small will cause baby to swallow air.
* The diet of a breastfeeding Mama plays a big part. Dairy, wheat and gluten, eggs, shellfish, garlic and onions, citrus, caffine and spicy foods can all contribute. Eliminate these food groups and add them in one by one to see if one in particular is causing a problem. It may seem time consuming but is very beneficial for your baby.
* Drinking fennel tea is also great for breastfeeding Mothers.
* Try different formulas if you are formula feeding.
* Be sure that baby does not become overtired - look for tired cues. The more overtired a baby is the more distressed they become, the more distressed they become the more air they will swallow when crying.
* Let them suck - use a dummy, your nipple, your clean finger. The sucking reflex calms them.
* Re-create the womb. Swaddle them, skin to skin, white noise. All of these help them feel safe and secure and calms them.
* Use warm baths to calm them
* Use slow rocking movements to calm them
* Gentle baby massage
* Baby probiotics
* Homeopothy. Natrum Phosphoricum, Aethusa and Silica all help with colic and reflux. Speak to a qualified Homeopath for guidelines on using.