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One of the most stressful things for a new mom is a baby who is always crying. No matter what you do as a mother to soothe the baby, they are still crying. If you are in such a predicament as a new mom, it could be that your baby is suffering from colic. This article is going to discuss how you can manage it, and exactly what causes colic in babies.
What Is Colic?
First things first, what is colic? Colic is excessive crying in an otherwise healthy baby. The baby cries for over 3 hours a day for over 3 days a week that sometimes extend to 3 months. It is a common condition that happens in 1 out of 5 babies.
Colic is likely to start at around 2 weeks of age of a baby, and it can happen to any baby regardless if the baby is breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. The sex of the baby does not influence the condition, and neither does the birth order of the baby.
What Causes Colic in Babies?
There are no known exact causes of colic. However, there are some speculations on what causes it. One of them is a growing digestive tract. So, as the digestive system grows, its muscles spasm a lot making a newborn cry relentlessly.
Another reason for what causes colic in babies is lactose intolerance (LI). LI is the condition in which the newborn cannot fully digest the lactose in milk. It bloats the baby for the much milk it is drinking and has gas and diarrhea. The condition is uncomfortable and causes the baby to cry incessantly.
Colic has also been linked to hormones. While in the womb, the baby is exposed to many hormones from the mother. But once they are born, the baby is no longer exposed to these hormones. The change in hormones can cause discomfort in the infant and cause excessive crying.
How to Manage Colic in Babies
To manage colic in your baby, it is best to first and foremost visit your pediatrician. They can then do a physical exam, review your baby’s medical history, and check the symptoms to ascertain whether it is colic.
The examination is also to rule out any other conditions that the baby may be having. The exam would include measuring your baby’s weight, height, head circumference and examining your baby’s limbs, fingers, eyes, ears, toes, and genitals for signs of infection, inflammation, or allergies.
Lab tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic tests aren’t always necessary. However, if all examinations are made and it is unclear what is affecting your baby, then these tests should be done.
Treatment for Colic in Babies
Like you have seen, certain factors trigger colic. Therefore, it’s best to avoid these things that trigger colic. Here are 4 things you can do that will help you manage colic in your baby.
1. Feeding the baby
If you are breastfeeding your baby, make sure you track everything you eat and drink since everything you consume goes to your baby. So, be very conscious of what you put into your body.
While at it, avoid caffeine, chocolates, alcohol, which act as stimulants when passed to your baby. Do also ask your doctor if any medication you are taking could affect your baby. If so, stop the medication, or find an alternative that would not affect your baby.
2. Formula milk
In case you are using formula milk to feed your baby, see if you can change it. Sometimes the type of formula milk can be what is causing colic in your baby. For example, if you are bottle-feeding your baby cow’s milk-based formula, try to see if you can change it to a hydrolyzed formula.
Hydrolyzed formulas have their protein already broken down into small proteins and easy to digest for the baby. If you want to exclude animal products from your baby’s diet, you can use a soy-based formula.
Once you have changed the formula milk, try feeding your baby smaller meals but more regularly. In the same vein, avoid feeding your baby a lot or too quickly. When bottle-feeding the baby, take about 20 minutes to do it.
If your baby is drinking too fast, change the bottle nipple to one with a smaller hole. It will help slow down their feeding. Lastly, warm the formula milk to body temperature before feeding your baby and feed your baby when they are in an upright position.
3. Holding your baby
How you hold your baby can relieve it. For starters, you can carry your baby across your arm or lap while massaging their back. These will relieve them of the discomfort they may be feeling.
You can also swaddle your baby and rock them to soothe their discomfort. Rocking them mimics how they were in the womb. Also, hold your baby upright to have them burp gas after every feeding. Gas is one of the causes of colic among babies.
4. Comfort your baby
Colic brings about discomfort to the baby. A counter for this is comforting your baby. Among the ways you can soothe your baby include skin-to-skin contact, singing to them, and giving them a warm bath. You can also put a warm towel on their tummy, massage them, and even go for a walk with them.
When Does Colic Start and End
There is no set time on when colic starts and ends. Nonetheless, colic is most common in the first 6 weeks of an infant’s life and can last up to 4 months. For a baby to be considered colic, they must be crying incessantly for 3 days.
Having a crying baby is one of the most stressful things any parent has to face. Especially when your baby is fed, changed, comfortable, and has no signs of illness. It causes anxiety and panic about what could be wrong with the baby.
And colic is one of those conditions that the baby cries while they are perfectly okay. If you find yourself in this predicament, be sure to use the above tips to take care of your baby, and it will go away in no time.
Sources: Kids Health, Colic (for parents), Nov 2019, Hopkins Medicine, Conditions and Diseases: Colic, May 2018, Family Doctor, Condition: Colic, Oct 2020, Mayo Clinic, Colic: Symptoms and Causes, Feb 2020 and PubMed, Treating Infants’ Colic, Sep 2005.