Summer’s daughter, along with 25% of all babies’ colic symptoms include:• fussiness, bouts of screaming, and high-pitched crying; • crying episodes beginning around the same time of the day, any given day, for no apparent reason, and lasting from a few minutes to up to several hours; • demonstrating discomfort by drawing up her knees, clenching her fists and refusing to eat, often passing gas or having a bowel movement toward the end of the episode. • and no amount of rocking, attempts at feeding, burping or soothing improve her discomfort … she only screams all the more when she’s placed in her baby swing or bouncy seat.
What is an exhausted, frustrated parent to do?
Colic DefinedAccording to Mayo Clinic “colic” in babies is defined as crying more than three hours a day, for three days a week, for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Colic is characterized by sustained crying in an otherwise healthy baby for a regular period of the day lasting for several weeks. Parents of colicky babies experience enormous frustration because despite every effort to soothe and quiet their baby, nothing seems to work. The fact that these bouts of sustained crying last for 3 or more hours at a time can wear down family members, both mentally and physically. Colic may begin as early as 2-3 weeks of age, and last as long as 6 months (most commonly ending about 3 months), so yes, it does eventually end!
Recommended Remedies for Colic… and the restoration of mom and dad’s sanity! Colic symptoms usually end by the age of 3 months, but while symptoms persist, many parents give their babies medication to ease gas, such as simethicone drops (Gas-X infant drops, Mylicon, etc.), but haven’t found these particularly helpful. Probiotics are now being given to help balance the good bacteria in baby’s sensitive digestive tract. Some alternative medicine that some parents try include herbal tea, fennel oil herbal therapy, glucose, and massage therapy. Some pediatricians allow parents to try “gripe water” (popular in England and some European countries). Our twins group mom Summer purchased a bottle labeled Colic Ease Gripe Water from a local health food store, and has reported a noticeable improvement in her baby. This herbal therapy is indicated for reflux and colic symptoms. Summer described her baby as sleeping more soundly and eating more comfortably since she began giving her the gripe water.
What you can do to soothe your babyThe following suggestions are activities that I, along with many other parents, have tried with my colicky babies, and found some relief: • Rocking: Motion soothes babies. They were used to your every movement before they were born, so motion comforts them. • White noise: Background noises such as the sound of your washer or dryer, soothing music, even traffic out of an opened window, your bathroom fan, even a vacuum cleaner can quiet and distract baby from crying. • Feeding: If she appears hungry, feed her. Breastfeeding babies don’t know when it’s “time” to eat, they just know when they feel hunger or simply want to be held and breastfed. Although each and every bite that you put in your mouth shouldn’t be scrutinized as to how it may affect your baby, do be mindful of foods that you know can cause excessive gas, or foods that are especially spicy, as these may affect your breast milk’s digestibility. • Warm/cool therapy: Some parents believe that a warmth on baby’s abdomen is helpful. Place your baby tummy down on a hot water bottle to relax the tummy muscles that he has tightened during his crying episode. Sometimes, too, a cold towel on baby’s tummy can decrease tension and any inflammation caused by the tummy discomfort. • Take a break: Allow someone else to take over for a while (husband, mother, mother-in-law or other close friend or family member).
When it’s NOT ColicBefore concluding that your baby is temporarily “colicky”, it’s important that you rule out any other possible condition that could cause similar symptoms. Babies can quite commonly suffer from reflux, a condition where stomach acid rises in the esophagus causing a burning sensation. Spitting up may or may not accompany this condition, so it’s commonly mistaken for colic. Ongoing cases of chronic reflux is known as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) Many parents have found nearly immediate improvement when the appropriate treatment, such as an acid relief medication made specifically for infants. Check with your pediatrician before giving your baby any medication. Also, if symptoms persist around the clock, with no spans of symptom-free time, have your pediatrician thoroughly examine your baby for any other pain or discomfort sources.
Coping with ColicWhen it gets to the point when you want to pull out your hair, when you feel like you can’t take it any longer, please: • Place your baby in a safe place … like a crib, safely buckled into his swing or car seat, and walk away. Step outside and breathe in some fresh air, or find any other distraction or activity in order to place a little distance between yourself and your baby. Even the most loving, patient, caring mother can lose control due to being completely overwhelmed and exhausted. • Locate some support … (family member or friend) that you can talk to, spend some time with, and express your frustrations to, so that you know that you’re not alone in this challenging time. AND REMEMBER that this will NOT go on forever! It will end and when it does, you will know that you survived one of the most difficult trials of parenthood.