Did you know that colic is the leading cause of paediatrician visits in the first year of a baby’s life? Colic is a real condition with real repercussions, and the inconsolable crying of a colicky baby can affect the sanity of the entire household.
What is colic?
Family chiropractor, Dr Michael Marinus, defines colic as, “persistent bouts of inconsolable crying, which begin out of the blue, stop just as quickly, and are accompanied by physical signs of tension. These begin at around two to three weeks of age, reach their peak at six weeks, and subside around three to four months.”
Dr Marinus adds: “The most interesting feature of colic is that it is limited to healthy, well-fed babies. This is why it is so hard to diagnose the condition; all the tests show that baby is doing well, yet parents know otherwise.”
Dr Marinus draws a comparison with an adult headache to explain the condition. “When you have a headache, you are not sick. A scan of your brain will indicate nothing is wrong, and blood tests won’t pick up any viral activity. BUT you feel like death and if it were socially acceptable you would probably sit in a corner and have a little cry. The same theory applies to colic. Just because doctors can’t find anything wrong, doesn’t mean that the pain doesn’t exist.”
How do I know if my baby has colic?
Your baby’s cry changes to a high-pitched, warbling sound, which is immediately distinguishable from a normal cry. Physical signs to look out for:
- Reddened, pained face
- Knees flexed up to chest
- Hands rolled into tight fists
- Back arching and neck extended
- Body rigidity
- Sweating and flushed face
- Cold feet
- Breast or bottle refusal
What causes colic?
All theories regarding the cause of colic have one common thread: A volume of stress on the baby’s internal system that he cannot deal with, resulting in daily bouts of inconsolability.
Dr Marinus identifies the most likely underlying reasons for colic as follows:
- Lactose intolerance
- Immature digestive system
- The digestive system is not getting the right messages from the nerves that control it, leading to cramping
How can I help my baby with colic?
The first step in resolving colic is a trip to the pediatrician to rule out any underlying causes that may mimic the condition, such as middle ear and urinary tract infections.
If your baby does have colic, try the following:
- Probiotics (if colicky behaviour stems from a lack of gut flora)
- Gentle alignment of the spine with a family chiropractor can regulate nerve flow to the digestive system
- Maintain a good breastfeeding diet or make sure you are on the right formula
- Lean on your support system during these difficult few months
Most importantly, don’t wait for your relationship with your baby to deteriorate. Postnatal classes, clinics, homeopaths, chiropractors, lactation consultants and GPs are all at your disposal. As are online forums where you can build friendships with other parents who are also awake at 3am.
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