It’s heart-rending to hear and watch your baby cry and wriggle in pains for hours. Caring for a baby with colic can be stressful, distressing and painfully demanding for any mother, especially a first time mother.
Colic is a medical condition that affects most babies between the ages of two weeks and four months, and in some cases six months. It’s not an illness and doesn’t have any adverse effect on the health or well-being of the baby. It’s evidenced by an uncontrollable and inconsolable persistent crying in an otherwise healthy baby. This crying can stretch for as long as two to three hours each day and usually occurs in the late afternoon or evening. In the course of crying, you may notice that your baby pulls his knees up to the tummy, clenches his fists, arches his back, has a wrinkled brow and a flushed face. Babies cry for various reasons. It is, therefore, advisable to consult your doctor first before concluding your baby has colic, especially if the crying is excessive.
The causes of colic are really not known. Various theories have been propounded as being responsible for this condition. One of such is indigestion – due to baby’s immature digestive system. Another theory is linked to trapped wind in baby’s tummy in the course of feeding. Unfortunately, these theories have little or no authenticity attached to them.
Colic has no cure but can be managed. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Give your baby a warm bath.
- Give baby’s tummy a gentle massage. Do this by stroking his tummy in a clockwise direction and then gently bringing his legs up to his tummy. This can help your baby pass wind.
- Soothe your baby with music or sounds. It helps to sing to your baby.
- Sit your baby in an upright position while feeding him, in order not to swallow much air.
- Always remember to burp your baby more often.
- Get your baby to drink his milk slowly, if bottle-fed. You may also try a different brand of formula milk.
- Offer a pacifier (dummy).
- Place baby belly down on the inside of your arm and swing from side to side or back and forth while supporting the head.
- Give baby a good cuddle or wrap him in a blanket.
- There are no medicines that can treat colic. However, you may administer colic drops or gripe water to baby but note that these only help to relieve abdominal discomforts. They can be bought over the counter in pharmacies.
- What a breast feeding mother eats may also affect her baby. Avoid caffeine, onions, cabbage, beans, spicy foods and other gas-producing foods if breast feeding.
- It may also do you a lot of good to give yourself a break by handing baby over to someone else. Try as much as possible to stay calm, remember colic is only temporary.
- Ask for advice from other parents and from medical experts, like your doctor.