Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Colic, what now?

What are a mom and dad to do when their baby is fussy?  I mean really fussy?  A baby that fussy once in a while is no problem.  But what if baby fusses a lot every day?  If it is your first baby you might think it is your fault.  And the baby’s fussiness might make it even harder than usual for you to feel like life has gotten back to normal after his birth.

And you might begin to wonder if your baby has colic.  Colic is when a healthy baby cries for more than 3 hours a day more than three days a week for more than three weeks.  It usually starts when the baby is about two weeks old.  Then it usually worsens until baby is 6 weeks old and goes away when baby is between 12 and 16 weeks old.  This was first described by Wessel in his 1954 article.

Even though we have known about colic since at least 1954, we still don’t know exactly what causes it.  There are many ideas including an immature intestinal system, making too much gas, formula intolerance, food allergies, or intestinal cramping.

And since we don’t know what causes it, it is really hard to treat or even decrease the symptoms.  The first thing is to make sure that it is in fact colic and not a different problem which can be treated or resolved.  So, a baby with colic is otherwise normal.  They have normal feeding, normal weight gain, and normal poopy diapers.  They do not have a fever and they do not vomit or spit up more than usual.  They do have a lot of gas, but that could be from swallowing extra air while they are crying.

If you think your baby may have colic, it is a good idea to keep a journal of baby’s crying and take it to an appointment with your medical provider.  Then, together, you can figure out if the baby has colic or something else.

While you are keeping your journal and waiting for your appointment here are some things to try. 
Swaddle baby like pictured and put him in a quiet dark room.  Sometimes this helps, especially if baby has been overstimulated or is overtired.
Testing out the Colic Massager by ThrasherDave on Flickr

Or try one of these two ways to hold baby and then bounce, sway, or walk.  You can also try baby belly down on your knees and then rock or glide.

shiatsu for babies by miss pubik on Flickr
A walk in the stroller or a drive in the car may soothe baby.  Sometimes a vibrating baby seat or a baby swing will help.  I have even known babies to do better in the swing if it vibrates.  Try turning an electric razor with the lid on in the swing to make it vibrate.  Some will put baby on the clothes dryer.  Only try this if you are right there watching, to make sure baby does not fall off the dryer.

Vibrating Chair, our lifesaver! by bradleyolin on Flickr
You can try Mylicon drops and really good burping, baby massage and probiotics.  Some say that a chiropractic adjustment or reflexology helps.  I have not found good data to suggest these work, but since each baby is different, one of them might help your baby.

If it is in fact colic, almost nothing helps.  If your baby has colic, try to find a trusted person to help give you breaks during the fussy period.  And give yourself breaks if you need it by putting baby down like we talked about yesterday.  A recent study looked at alternative medicine studies for treatments that are effective.  Of all the ones tested fennel or fennel chamomile tea and sucrose water showed the most promise for being effective.  For more information talk to your medical provider.

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