Is your new-born crying profusely for a few hours daily despite being well-fed and tended too?
The reason could be Colic.
What is Colic?
New-borns go through a phase called baby colic or infantile colic that is found common amongst perfectly healthy babies, who despite not being hungry or hurting have episodes of crying for more than 3 hours a day. These episodes usually peak in late afternoon or evening with the onset of fussiness, irritability, and crankiness that may turn into high-pitched wailing sessions. Mostly common in babies after they have turned six weeks old, colic may last until they are six months of age!
Though this phase is perfectly normal for babies, it is found to be more stressful for parents as excessive crying can result in post-pregnancy depression, marital discord, frustration, frequent visits to the doctor, and even something as grave as the shaken baby syndrome. So, whether you are a new parent dealing with a cranky baby or going to have a baby soon, here’s how you can prep yourselves and your baby for colic:
1. Predictable & Intense Crying:
Late afternoon or evening, your baby may turn irritable or cranky and start crying at a high-pitched level that may sound like screaming or expression of pain. These intense crying sessions happen at the same time daily and may last up to three hours or more, even after feeding or diaper change.
2. Irregular Sleeping Patterns:
Interrupted sleep or sudden waking up from sleep followed by intense crying episodes making their sleep patterns irregular.
3. Interrupted Feed Time:
Though their amount of consumption remains unaffected, babies may start crying even during feed time for no apparent reason.
At a particular time during the day, you will notice a restlessness in their body like stiffed legs and arms, clenched fists, and firmness in the abdomen.
5. Gas & Bowel Relief:
Babies usually pass wind or bowel during these intense crying sessions which may come across as a relief for them.
These are only some of the many symptoms of colic, however, if you notice something seriously off or concerning in your baby’s crying episodes, please consult a doctor or nurse for diagnosis.
Cause & Complications:
The cause of colic is unknown and only assumed by researchers so far. Since babies tend to pass gas or bowel during these intense crying sessions, most of the experts have pointed out the reasons of discomfort being related to the digestive system. An under-developed digestive system or unhealthy bacteria in the intestine could be one of the reasons, also allergies or intolerance towards a particular food. Irregular burping, overfeeding, or underfeeding can onset colic too. However, the researchers are unable to deduce as to why only at a particular time does a baby become restless and cranky or what’s causing these painful cries.
And as far as the complications are concerned, colic doesn’t affect babies in the long run but can be a tense and taxing phase for parents. The high-pitched wails can lead to frustration and annoyance, and also depression post-pregnancy. Since their efforts may or may not calm the baby, parents have found it difficult to deal with these situations at times. In rare cases, mothers have ceased to breastfeed, and also there have been reports of the shaken baby syndrome, wherein efforts to calm the baby with rigorous shaking have led to serious brain damage and even death.
Since the cause is unknown, there is no definite cure for colic. However, certain treatments and strategies have helped parents calm the babies at times. So, if you think your baby is going through a colic phase you can try the following:
- Walk or rock in slow yet steady rhythmic motion to calm the baby
- Use white noise or a buzzing sound to distract them. Run a vacuum or dryer in the adjacent room. It’s been found that the buzzing and humming sound soothes the baby
- Introduce them to the pacifier if you haven’t already
- Lay them on their tummy-side, on your knee and gently rub their back to comfort them
- Put them in a swaddle. The warmth and security will help them calm down
- Ensure that in no way they are swallowing more air while feeding. Check the teats of the bottle. If they are too small, the baby may end up with more air in his stomach which may lead to discomfort. Make them sit upright while feeding if it helps
- Mothers who are nursing must avoid caffeine, spicy food, and alcohol
- Bright light can also cause discomfort to the baby. Dim the lights, hold them in your arms and walk or rock them
- Some mothers have noticed that a warm bath also helps to calm the baby
These are some of the treatments that you can try at home, however before doing so, get in touch with the paediatrician to ensure there are no serious medical reasons behind the crying episodes.
Though motherhood is hailed as a beautiful and joyous journey, some moments may stress you out while taking care of the baby. Try to reason with them. Take help if need be and step out for a while if it gets too stressful. Babies are indeed tough to comprehend but let not their discomfort become annoyance to you. Consult the doctor if need be or try out the treatments that we’ve listed above to help calm the baby naturally.
And to all the parents reading this article, if you have a suggestion that can help out another, please leave your suggestions in the comments below!