There are a lot of misunderstandings around regarding what colic actually is. Some people call the symptoms of reflux ?colic?, or refer to a crying baby as ?colicky? without really knowing what colic is. Colic is common in babies, and refers to excessive crying that doesn?t appear to have any cause.
So when an otherwise healthy baby who is fed, clean and comfortable cries frequently for extended lengths of time, often drawing up the legs, this is colic. The symptoms appear more commonly in the afternoon and evenings and can be surprisingly regular ? many parents find themselves expecting the onset of a bout of colic at a very specific time.
The key thing about colic, and the thing which makes it so difficult to deal with, is the fact that the cause of the crying is unknown.
The good news is that babies grow out of colic quite quickly. Babies are unlikely to have colic after 4 months and by 6 months it is usually gone for good. However, this isn?t very comforting for parents who are dealing with colic on a daily, or near-daily, basis.
Coping with Colic
? Seek medical advice ? your doctor will be able to rule out any other causes of the crying. They can advise you whether your baby may in fact be suffering from reflux, for example. They can also ease your mind by confirming that your baby is healthy and thriving despite the colic symptoms.
? Feed on Demand ? trying to establish a feeding routine before your baby can cope with it can cause discomfort and mean that your baby is either too full, or hungry. Feed when your baby is hungry rather than timing his feeds.
? Comfort your baby ? some experts feel that the more close physical contact you have with your baby, the lower the chance of colic. Skin to skin contact with parents is important for bonding and for comfort. As if you needed an excuse for more cuddles!
? Deal with Wind – many people feel that colic is linked to trapped wind, and there are many remedies you can try to help your baby expel any bubbles of wind that could be causing discomfort. Wind your baby well after every meal, and if you are bottle feeding them make sure he is not swallowing air by using an anti-colic bottle. Massaging your baby’s tummy using a clockwise motion can help move trapped wind and deal with constipation. There are also non-prescription wind relief remedies for babies that could make a big difference.
Know that you are not alone. As many as 1 in 5 babies can suffer from colic and you are perfectly reasonable in finding it difficult to cope with. Seek help from other parents with colicky babies or join in support groups online. Everyone who has ever had a baby with colic, or has ever known someone with a colicky baby, will understand that while your baby may not be ill, the stress and helplessness of dealing with the colic can be enough to drive the parents to distraction. Make good use of your support network, even if it means drafting in extra help so you can get some sleep on those endless nights.
The HSE have some further information about Colic
Have you any advice for other parents who are dealing with a colicky baby?