What is colic and what are colic symptoms?
How to keep your sanity through a colicky baby
Tips to help sooth your colicky baby
The definition of colic is acute abdominal pain especially in babies. However that does nothing to address the distress that most parents feel when their child has colic. Colic manifests as long bouts of uncontrollable crying for which there is no discernible cause. That means the baby is not hungry, thirsty, cold or wet; they are just screaming their heads off!
Common colic symptoms are crying for long periods of time for no reason. Some babies cry all day but often an indication that your child has colic symptoms is the fact that the crying gets worse in the late afternoon or evening. The symptoms of colic usually appear in the first few weeks after birth and they tend to go as mysteriously as they came when the child is about three months of age.
As distressing as the symptoms of colic are to most parents many doctors agree that the crying does not result from pain. Babies with colic often become red in the face and pass gas, and some babies tend to draw their legs up towards their stomachs. Despite having colic, most babies continue to eat and their development does not suffer as they gain weight at a normal rate. If for any reason your child does not seem to be developing normally, then consult your child’s health care provider.
The biggest problem of colic symptoms is in fact the parents; they are often run ragged with the constant crying! Other children do not sleep and they become cranky as well. Let’s face it, a crying baby is stressful! It is important for parents to try and distance themselves emotionally from the colic. Causes of colic are in fact still unknown and it was thought that it was caused by problems within the digestive tract. Although painful gas is a symptom, there is no evidence that it is caused by digestive tract problems. Some health care workers believe that it is caused by intolerance to lactose the milk sugar; however there is no sound evidence that this is the case.
Modern child psychologists are relating the causes of colic to the individual child’s temperament because colic does not appear to have any lasting damage to the child. Some children are more sensitive to the environment around them and some parents have found relief for their child by using natural organic products in the nursery. Some babies as a result of their temperament react to any external changes by crying, and this can be regarded as normal behavior for some children.
There are gastric diseases that many babies do suffer from and one of the most common is Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and it certainly causes crying in babies. Babies with this disease have trouble keeping their food down and vomit more than usual. If left unchecked, it can cause problems with the baby’s development and to the lining of the esophagus. Be sure to check with your child’s health care provider if you think this may be an issue. In working with my child’s health care provider, although my baby’s development was great, we determined she had a problem with keeping her food down, and that was probably what was causing the colic. We tried several things such as administering medicine, changing her formula – thickening it up a bit, changing her feeding positions, etc.
Be sure to rule out obvious causes for crying too such as hunger, gas, excessive tiredness, and thirst, the fact that your baby is too hot or too cold. They may have another source of pain such as a diaper rash or they just don’t like being held a certain way. Some babies just crave bodily contact and this can cause them to cry when they are put down, but it is not colic. A baby with colic will not stop crying when they are picked up. Another thing to notice and familiarize yourself with is what your child’s own natural bowel patterns are. Constipation can make a child cry for no apparent reason too.
Unfortunately the muddy waters are not made clearer by the fact that babies react differently to the symptoms of the colic and different things can relieve different babies. It is always crucial to remember how unique your baby is and trust your own parental instincts – you know your baby better than anyone and you will tend to know when there is something wrong.
Some moms report that keeping a baby moving either in a sling or a baby swing can help the child feel less distress from colic symptoms. Warm bath water may be comforting and give your baby a massage afterwards especially a gentle massage in the abdominal area.
Sometimes colic symptoms are relieved the old fashioned way such as with over the counter gripe water. Sometimes using an infant gas reliever such as Mylicon can help break up gas bubbles in a baby’s tummy and improve the symptoms of colic.
Aromatherapy and tummy massage using sweet smelling oil can be helpful, but be warned that some herbal medicines are poisonous to very young children and it is always best to check with your child’s health care provider first. I liked using a lavender scented baby lotion after baths to soothe my colicky baby. It helped relax her a bit and me too!
Just remember it is important for parents to get some relief from the terrible mental strain of colic. Try to get out of the noise of the constant crying. It’s okay to leave your baby in an infant swing in another room so you can take a small break as long as they’re secure and you have met all of their needs. Ask for help and ask a friend or a relative to take the strain for a few hours. Relieving colic symptoms is as important for parents as it is for children.
© Samantha Buck
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Samantha Buck is a Professional Organizer and Editor of http://www.LifeOrganizeIt.com/organize-kids.html, where you can find solutions to organize kids young and old. Subscribe to the free organizing magazine “Organize It Mom!” at http://www.lifeorganizeit.com/free-e-zine.html for super easy tips and techniques to get yourself organized. Not just for moms, this free organizing magazine will help anyone get organized!