As a new parent, you may find it hard to believe, but colic in babies is not a dangerous situation. Being a parent of 4 children, two of whom did suffer from bouts of colic, at the time I thought they were about to die based on all the crying and screaming. Fear not, as actual colic in babies is simply a bad stomach ache that some babies, not all, get after eating. Sadly this condition may last from minutes to even hours which is a long time to hear your newborn screaming at the top of their little lungs. In most instances colic in babies has the highest probability of occurring within the first 2 months and will generally end when the newborn reaches the age of 3-4 months old.
That was the good news, the bad news is that there is no known cure for colic, nor has research been able to figure out exactly what causes colic in babies. Sort of like the common cold! As with the common cold, there are signs that this condition is affecting your baby which are important for parents to be able to recognize, not only to help relieve the problem, but as well to ensure that it is in fact a non-live threatening condition and not something that you should be getting immediate medical help for.
Common signs of colic in babies include:
- the tummy of the baby becoming enlarged or bloated from the build up of gas
- often one leg will be bent and the other leg extended due to the pain
- as mentioned earlier the constant crying, in some cases for hours on end
- reddening of the baby's cheeks from the effort of crying
- hands clenched tightly
- feet becoming cold to your touch
As mentioned above, colic in babies is a condition that generally occurs soon after eating, so it is related to food and the digestive system, and therefore may happen around most meal times of the day. Knowing these facts there are some things you can do to try to avoid the colic condition or at least minimize the effect on your baby such as:
- avoiding incidences of overfeeding, especially if you find that your baby is prone to colic
- avoiding foods known to aggravate colic in babies such as foods and drinks with a high sugar content as these will lead to a further buildup of gas in the stomach and make things worse
- intestinal sensitivity is a suspected cause of colic in babies, so it is vital that you recognize any possible allergies your baby may have to certain foods and avoid feeding these to the baby, either directly or indirectly from you if you are breast feeding.
- environmental factors have been linked to intensifying colic in babies such as emotional outbursts by the parent due to the screaming, anger, worry excitement, in other words anything that may upset the colicky baby even more.
As already mention, there is not any cure for colic in babies, however if you have a colicky baby, there are some things you may attempt to help to relieve the pain including walking and padding or rubbing the newborn's back and giving him / her a product often known as "gripe water" for newborns. There are a variety of commercial versions of gripe water available so the particular content may vary between brands, but usually gripe water consists of ginger, fennel, sodium bicarbonate, fructose and 3.6 percent alcohol, together with dill and chamomile. All of these ingredients have properties that help to reduce cramping, gas and stomach acidity, plus the dill may also help pacify the infant and lull them to sleep.
Thankfully not all babies are doomed to suffer attacks of colic and amongst those afflicted the range of pain varies as do the frequency of attacks. Current research suggests that genetics may play a role. Some studies suggest that if one or both parents have suffered from colic as babies then the probability is high that their offspring will also be afflicted with this condition of colic in babies.
At the onset of a colic episode, the best way to help your newborn would be to not freak out, since as already talked about your emotional response to the situation may make things even worse. An important supportive next step is to become more informed on what you're dealing with as it relates to colic in babies and then to brush up as much as possible on this subject. Remember that prolonged crying could be a result of a host of other things so it is important that you also keep your wits about you so that you will recognize what exactly ails your baby. Finally always remember that there is not a known cure or recognized cause for colic in babies, so all you can do as a caring parent is to make this stressful situation as comfortable and less upsetting as possible for both you and your little one.