What is colic?
Doctors define colic as repeated episodes of excessive and inconsolable crying in an otherwise healthy and well cared-for baby. While anyone who’s seen a baby with colic will agree it definitely exists, why it happens is still unclear.
‘One theory is that a newborn’s immature gut struggles to cope with digestion,’ says GP Louise Knight. Some medical professionals think trapped bubbles of gas in your baby’s digestive system cause colic. ‘Another possibility is that it’s triggered by a sensitivity to cow’s milk,’ adds Louise. However, breastfed babies can also get colic so many experts disagree with this theory.
Some believe that colic is caused by over-stimulation – too much light or noise throughout the day meaning your baby gets over-tired and cranky in the afternoon and evening. Bouts of colic can occur from birth but gradually settle down and usually disappear by four months, with no lasting ill effects.
What can you do to help?
Rule out any potential problems, such as your baby feeling hungry, tired or cold. ‘If you’re using formula, try switching brands or a different bottle,’ says Louise. Specially designed bottles and teats reduce the amount of air a baby takes in while feeding.
Some babies respond well to cranial osteopathy or massage for treating their colic, or you could use colic drops which reduce the amount of gas in your baby’s gut.
Paediatrician and renowned US baby expert Dr Harvey Karp believes that colic is a baby’s reaction to being out of the safety and comfort of the womb and recommends replicating pre-birth conditions to soothe a crying baby. He suggests “The five Ss” approach:
- Swaddling – wrapping up your baby snugly in a swaddle to make him feel secure. Watch our video on how to swaddle.
- Side (or stomach) position – holding the baby horizontally sideways across your stomach with lots of bodily contact for reassurance.
- Shhhhh – making a shushing noise like the sound of blood rushing around the womb.
- Swinging – he’s used to movement inside his mother.
- Sucking – a thumb, dummy, bottle or breast all soothe newborns.
If your baby is suffering from colic and you need more advice and tips on helping your infant we recommend visiting mom loves best a very helpful guide for parents.