Is there a Cure for Colic?
OK, so I recognize that is a bold title, especially if you are reading this and sitting with a baby who you suspect may in-fact have colic.
So let’s start with some background – newborn cry, that’s how they speak to us in this large new world. They tell us they are hungry, have gas, do not like a certain position or are tired. Newborns can cry up to 2 hours every day and that is totally normal.
What Causes Colic in a Baby?
If you are here, it’s likely you are in the first few weeks together with a newborn is like speed-dating. You are rapidly trying to determine all you can about this new human, while they learn all they can about you. What position do they fancy, hands swaddled in vs. out, establishing a proper latch, how often should they be sleeping?
With this comes some normal fuss and crying that can be stopped as their needs are met. Meaning if they are hungry, you feed them, and they just chill, snuggle and sleep. However, for many new families, this isn’t the case. The sign your baby may have colic generally becomes obvious to parents when they have seemingly tried everything to ensure baby is happy, fed, rested, comfortable, etc. and still the crying persists.
Signs of Colic in a Baby Include:
- Cry for 3 or more hours each day, more than 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks
- Crying for what seems like no reason
- Consistent crying at the same time every day for hours on end, usually the afternoon or evening.
- A more intense ‘cry’ from the normal cry that they let out
- Tight fists or legs being scrunched in towards their belly
- Tightened stomach area or a bloated belly
If your baby is experiencing any of the above, start to track the symptoms, timing and when baby fed. It will help your Pediatrician to look for patterns to determine if it is in-fact Colic or something else, like a food allergy, sensitivity to something in your diet if you are nursing, hunger, if there are undiagnosed supply issues, reflux or discomfort from an illness or preference to swaddle or not to swaddle.
Here is a sample of food that can agitate a colicky baby.
Doctors are not really sure what causes Colic. I have supported thousands of families around the world and many parents who have children diagnosed as ‘colicky.’
I wanted to share some practical advice below about things that have helped manage a baby’s symptoms of Colic and can help you make it through these first weeks a bit easier.
Do not jump straight to feeding when baby cries. I am NOT suggesting that you don’t feed a hungry baby, every time I discuss this I get someone who messages me and tells me that I am an asshole for trying to assess whether it’s hunger or not. What I mean is that if they just ate 30 minutes ago, make sure first it’s not trapped air or gas pains. Flip them over on your legs and gently rub their back, as them laying across your legs will create pressure and help get the trapped air out.
Watch your diet. Foods that are transferring to the baby in your breastmilk can upset their little new digestive systems. A formula that’s based on cow’s milk is also something to watch, to ensure that your baby doesn’t have a milk-based protein allergy.
Full feeds – properly spaced throughout the day are my single best answer for this question and helping to manage Colic. For newborns, that is usually about every 3 hours. If you are trying to eat lunch before breakfast fully digests, your ‘holding tank” can get overfull, causing pain, discomfort and spitting up. When I ask clients to just try this for one day, they are usually surprised at how much different baby is. Think about it, as the day goes on, they are getting more stuffed and more stuffed and more stuffed, hence these symptoms in the afternoon or evening hours.
Do what you can – colic is short term but can be hard on babies and parents. Do what works for your family to get them as comfortable as possible for naps and overnight, as sleep can help them feel rested and refreshed. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and if none of the above options are providing relief, speak to your pediatrician or reach out and set up a time to speak with myself or a member of the team.