If your baby is crying non-stop and can’t be soothed by anything, he or she may be suffering from colic. Colic is a condition where your baby experiences abdominal pain caused by gas or indigestion, which can be painful. Find out more about this condition and how you can help your baby feel better.
How do I know if my baby has colic?
Colic usually starts a few weeks after your baby is born, and can occur in a baby who is perfectly healthy and exhibits no symptoms of ill health. The following are the symptoms of colic:
- Non-stop, intense crying. Your baby is extremely upset for no apparent reason, and will not calm down even when fed, changed and sung to. Watch for whether this happens at the same time every day, although episodes can be random.
- Body tension. Look out for signs of pain or discomfort expressed by your baby, such as clenched fists, tensed muscles and an arched back.
- Irregular feeding. Colic usually does not affect your baby’s appetite but you may find that your baby feeds irregularly.
- Wind. See if your baby has a bloated stomach or is passing gas when he or she cries.
- Poor sleep. A colicky baby tends not to sleep well. He or she may wake up crying and find it hard to fall asleep again.
What causes colic?
Nobody really knows what causes colic, although most medical experts think gas or digestion have to do with it. Premature babies are more prone to colic, but full-term babies have it just as often. Both breast-fed and formula-fed babies have colic. There are many theories surrounding sensitivity to milk or lactose-intolerance, although those have not been proven. TCM also has its own beliefs about “wind” causing problems in the body.
What can I do to help my baby?
There are no foolproof methods for soothing a baby with colic as there isn’t really a treatment for colic and different babies respond to different methods. Parents will have to experiment with different methods until they find the ones they work for them. The following may help:
- Holding the baby and soothing him or her gently
- Avoiding bright lights and over-stimulation
- Providing some white noise like the sound of a washing machine
- Swaddling the baby may make him or her feel secure
- Giving the baby a pacifier lets the baby chew on something
- Burping or rubbing the baby may help release gas
- Give your baby gripe water with a dropper
- Giving the baby a warm bath or massage
Caring for a colicky baby
If your baby is diagnosed with colic, here are some further steps you can take to try to prevent colic episodes:
- Feed the baby more frequently in smaller amounts which helps digestion
- Hold the baby upright when feeding rather than lying down to prevent swallowing of air
- Burp your baby after every feed
- Avoid spicy food and caffeine if you are breastfeeding
- Try going dairy-free for a week or so to rule out dairy intolerance
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