When a baby has colic it cries inconsolably for what can be hours. For new parents (and even old-hands) it can elicit a sense of despair and helplessness.
- Loud crying often late in morning
- Baby pulls up knees, grimaces & clenches fists
- Baby’s stomach may rumble
- Baby produces lots of wind
- Baby is very hard to console
- Crying may go on for hours
What causes colic?
No-one knows what triggers colic but there are several theories. One hypothesis is that the baby’s intestines are working too hard causing cramps, another notion purports that the infant’s bowel movements are too slow allowing in air making the intestines expand to cause pain. Others believe the baby takes in too much air while feeding, while some think colic is a reaction to cow’s milk consumed by the mum.
Colic usually starts within a month of birth and dissipates by the time the baby is four months.
How is Colic Treated?
- Some colicky babies calm down if they are rocked, carried on their stomach, held tightly, wrapped in a blanket or sung to.
- Massaging the baby’s tummy in a circle from left to right may help the baby pass wind and ease the pain. Trapped wind can also be helped with dimethicone drops which bind small bubbles of wind together so they can be easily expelled when the baby burps. Gripe water may also help - the main ingredient is sodium bicarbonate which soothes intestinal pain.
- Encouraging your baby to drink slowly and winding him or her regularly may reduce bouts of colic.
- Some people think a mum’s diet may contribute to colic in breast-fed babies. For this reason it is worth cutting down on gassy foods such as spice, onions and cabbage.
- If you think your baby is lactose intolerant an enzyme called lactase can be added to expressed milk to break lactose down. Your health visitor can advise on this.
- If the baby is formula fed try switching brands to see if that helps.
- The good news is that colic will not harm the baby and within months it is little more than a bad memory.