You've probably heard of infant colic and heard it described three-month colic. What is the magic thing about three months you're probably thinking?
If you've seen a baby with true colic it is really quite distressing for the parent as well as the baby. As the mother or parent, you want to fix their little tummies so it doesn't hurt. They cry a lot and often pull their legs up to their tummies and this can last for several hours, every evening.
In England, I saw and heard about colic an awful lot, compared to what I've seen and heard about here in OZ
Now, why is that? I told you my recent trip to England had got me thinking!
One of my theories is that a lot of babies in England are carried around a lot in car seats and strollers. This scrunches up their little bodies and they can't straighten out their legs. Maybe this leads to a build up of gas?
Whereas, babies in Australia, are carried a lot in slings and carriers.
On my recent trip to Wensleydale and the local fair I only saw two babies carried in slings/carriers and the rest were in strollers/pushchairs/prams. It just got me thinking...
Also in Australia, we put a big emphasis on tummy time on the floor and this has the added bonus of helping the gut to move more effectively and so expel gas.
Colic and diet
We (us health professionals) also believe that some colic is attributed to lactose intolerance. Most babies do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase which digests the milk sugar lactose. By 6 weeks to 3 months, this has changed and the lactase has caught up with what is needed. As the day goes on the lactase has run out which is why colic is worse in the evening. We call this difficult period of the day 'the witching hour'. How true!!!
Sometimes a reduced lactose or lactose-free formula can help if your baby is formula fed. Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you need help with this.
If your baby is breast fed you may want to try a dairy free diet for a week or two. This should be done under dietetic/medical supervision. Some mothers report a huge difference in their babies after doing this, but some nothing at all. Others swear by cutting out onions, garlic, spicy foods or chocolate. Read more at http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com/breastfeeding-and-colic.html
Other things you can try are ...
- Baby massage - following the direction of the gut, moving your hand in a clockwise direction.
- Bicycling with the baby's legs. I demonstrate this in my Youtube video here: Youtube: How to manage wind/gas and colic in your newborn baby
- Putting the baby over your knee to apply gentle pressure to the abdomen.
- Probiotics in particular the strain Lactobacillus Reuteri - https://www.nestle.com.au/brands/baby-toddler-nutrition/biogaia/biogaia-probiotic-drops
- Medication such as Infacol. This contains an ingredient Simeticone that helps transport little air bubbles into larger ones so they can be expelled easier. http://www.infacol.co.uk/ It's best given before each feed, directly into the baby's mouth, as directed, and use for at least a week. It can take this long for improvements in the baby to be noted, so don't just try for a day or so and give up on it.
- Homoeopathic products such as Infant's Friend (contains Dill and Anise oil) which are available from your local pharmacy. http://infantsfriend.com.au/index.htm
- Wind bub after feeds, especially if they feed too quickly. If you're breastfeeding, it may be that you have oversupply and this can make the baby windy. If baby is bottle fed, try using a teat with a slower flow, such as Pigeon or Tommee Tippee. Avent teats tend to be a bit too fast flow. It's useful to know that Pigeon teats fit on Avent bottles.
- Dummies/pacifiers can help soothe baby but try not to use all the time as these can cause more wind and so more colic. The action of sucking seems to be a pain reliever for some babies.
Self-care is especially important, as looking after a baby 24/7 with infant colic is emotionally draining and very stressful. Ask for help from your partner and family or friends. Respite is essential.
Always bear in mind that it will pass, hence the name three-month colic and whilst they may look in pain and cry a lot, babies are very resilient.
So hopefully I've given you, the parent, a few helpful tips to reduce their colic.
It's always good to get baby checked by your doctor, GP or Paediatrician, to make sure that it is colic, and not something a bit more complicated.
Sometimes it can get confused with reflux (gastro-oesophageal), cows milk protein intolerance and other food intolerances. See these blog below for more info on these.
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Some further reading and resources on my blog