How Do You Handle Colic in Your Newborn?
Babies often cry for various reasons. These occasionally eardrum-piercing outbursts tell you as parents or caregivers that they are hungry, need changing, tired, or have any other issues needing attention.
Some seemingly healthy infants cry for extended periods without stopping. Doctors may diagnose this condition as colic.
Babies with colic generally cry for at least three full hours per day, three days a week or more.
All babies cry. Your infant might have colic if they are:
- A difficulty to soothe.
- Leg pulling.
- Clenched fists.
- Stiffened arms.
- Arched backs.
- Unusually high-pitched shrieking or screaming.
- A red face.
- Pale skin, especially surrounding the mouth.
It typically occurs in predictable spells. In many instances, crying begins during the evening hours.
Researchers are not sure exactly what precipitates colic.
Doctors say that many cases may result from digestive issues, such as an underdeveloped digestive tract, food allergies or intolerance, excessive or inadequate feeding, infrequent burping, and gut flora imbalances.
Colic can also be caused by environmental factors like stress and anxiety. Or it may be the first symptom of a childhood migraine condition.
Extensive research has been conducted on colic. But research has not been able to link any notable risk factors with your baby’s gender, if your child is breast or formula-fed, or if you carried the infant to partial or full-term.
Cigarette smoking has been one of the few risk factors researchers have made public. Studies have shown that infants of mothers who smoked while expecting or immediately following delivery stood at greater risk of having a colicky baby.
Besides the symptoms previously discussed, your baby may show other physical symptoms, such as crying as if they are in distress and displaying a bloated or tight abdominal region.
Physicians attribute this to gas buildup. When your baby cries, they tend to swallow excessive air concentrations. Air precipitates gas, which can expand the tummy. Occasionally, burping, passing gas, or having a bowel movement might provide relief.
Colic does not cause your child any notable or long-term complications from a physical health standpoint. You might find the problem emotionally trying, which could cause a whole other set of potentially serious consequences.
The inability to quiet your child’s crying can prove highly stressful. Significant research has been performed examining the influence colic has on parents.
The problem may increase your risk of developing postpartum depression or cause you to stop breastfeeding earlier than usual. It has led some parents to experience a wide array of negative emotions, such as anger, fear, frustration, sadness, helplessness, and pure exhaustion.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Ongoing bouts of colic might cause a serious outcome known as shaken baby syndrome.
Sometimes, the stress of parenting a colicky infant leads to shaking the child to stop the crying or out of mere aggravation. When executed with enough force, this action can yield severe outcomes like brain damage or possibly even death.
Such emotions should be acknowledged and quickly brought to the attention of your doctor or mental health professional. If left unchecked, these emotions will only increase, which could place your child’s well-being in peril.
Usually, the problem is not challenging to diagnose. Your family doctor or child’s pediatrician can often reach a firm diagnosis after listening to your account of events and considering factors including when the crying spells take place, as well as the infant’s eating, sleeping, and excretion patterns.
Infrequently, continual crying outbursts might be caused by an underlying medical illness needing diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor or child’s pediatrician would likely also conduct a thorough physical examination.
Potential Treatment Options
There is no one specific treatment for colic. There are many different therapeutic protocols you or your child’s doctor might suggest. In some cases, therapy might involve trial and error until stumbling upon a success.
Common treatment options include:
- Alternative Feeding Techniques: If your child is fed through a bottle, try a curved bottle. This enables you to keep the infant in a more upright position, reducing the amount of air the child consumes during feeding.
- Change The Baby’s Crib Positioning: If the crying infant is lying down, try sitting them upwards. If you hold your child or carry them, have the baby to face forward and rest against your chest.
- Make The Baby’s Surroundings More Interesting: A certain degree of mental or emotional stimulation may soothe the infant. Create surroundings with a variety of colors, shapes, textures, and sizes.
- Engage With the Child: Simple actions, such as talking with the child, singing, or gently rocking your baby.
- Give The Baby a Warm Bath: Your baby might find warm water calming. Placing them in a bath for several minutes may lessen their anxiety.
- Go On Car Rides: Sometimes, car rides have a positive outcome. Motion often acts as a soothing agent.
- Increase Surrounding Noise: In certain instances, exceedingly quiet environments can prove counterproductive. Baby experts recommend increasing the noise level slightly in the child’s room or nursery. Something as simple as a whirring fan could induce calm and quell crying.
- Cuddle: Sometimes, holding your child tight offers them a sense of security and may reduce colic incidents. Doctors and childcare experts caution against repeating this activity too often. It might cause problems later in life in teaching the child to think that making a quick fuss will immediately draw their parents’ attention.
- Monitoring Diet: If the above efforts do not yield intended results, you might opt to alter the infant’s diet and feed them formula that does not contain milk, eggs, wheat, or nuts, as these products can cause allergic reactions and digestive issues.
Unfortunately, prevention of colic is not possible.
The prognosis for infants with colic is good. The condition typically resolves on its own accord when the child reaches three to four months of age.
The potential long-term impacts on parents cannot be overstated. The illness is an annoying, sometimes frightening event that could take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. If you experience serious anger or tension, seek immediate attention from a doctor or mental health professional.
If you think your baby has colic, please contact us. Our practice began more than 15 years ago and has emerged as one of the leading gastroenterology practices in central Florida. We perform a host of diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment in a friendly, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere where patient care is always a top priority. Contact us today!