Coping with Colic | Emma's Diary India

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Coping with colic

Coping with Colic
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Top tips on dealing with colic

The crying is often worse in the evenings when baby draws his legs into his body as if he has tummy cramps or bad wind; a baby in pain should always be checked by a doctor in case there is a more serious problem. This is particularly true if he cries all day, or has any other symptoms like fever or sickness.

Breast and bottle-fed babies suffer equally from colic, so switching feeding methods isn't usually the answer.

Sucking is the most comforting thing your baby knows and it helps move gas along the intestine, so your baby will want to suck even when he's not hungry.

Help for breastfed babies

Many mothers wonder if their baby is reacting to something in their breast milk. This is possible, but hard to pin point as you need to exclude items from your diet for up to two weeks to see any difference. The commonest triggers are:

  • Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, cola and chocolate, spicy foods and alcohol.
  • Cow's milk proteins, especially if you or your partner have a family history of allergies. Excluding all dairy produce from your diet is difficult, and you need to make sure that you have alternative forms of calcium.
  • Sometimes something as simple as better positioning and attachment during breastfeeding can help to solve the problem. Also, make sure that your baby finishes the first breast before moving him on to the second one.

Help for bottle-fed babies

  • You may find that using different types of bottle or teats can work. If your baby is windy, you could try a teat which slows down the milk flow. You could also feed your baby in a more upright position, with frequent pauses to allow trapped air to escape.
  • Feeding little and often, seems to help. Afterwards, hold your baby upright over your shoulder, and stroke his back slowly and firmly upwards to burp him.
  • Sometimes a doctor will advise you to try a hypoallergenic formula instead of your baby's usual feed. She will monitor whether this helps your baby and will give you advice on how long you should continue giving it. If it is ineffective after one or two weeks it is usually stopped.

Over stimulation

Another theory is that young babies have to handle so much information every day that they are over-stimulated by the evening.

If you think this applies to your baby then try creating a structured, early bedtime, perhaps with a soothing bath, a gentle cuddle and feed before the miserable time starts. You can also cut down on stimulating events late in the afternoon

Be in control

When your baby is crying it's all too easy to get wound up yourself. However, you need to stay calm otherwise he will sense your tension and get worse.

If you can handle him in a positive and confident way, that's half the battle. Share the burden - make sure your family, friends and your partner take turns comforting him; he won't mind at this stage who is doing the cuddling.

It can also be a great help to meet up with other new mums with colicky babies; ask your doctor or browse the community section on this website.

If you feel you are losing your temper, then put your baby in his cot and walk away until you calm down. No one will judge you if you feel unable to cope with your baby's constant crying so talk to your doctor.

Colic remedies

There are a number of over-the counter-remedies available for treating colic. Some babies seem to respond well to these, while for others they seem to have little effect. Your chemist will be able to advise you.

Your doctor may advise you to try lactase drops which are used with both breast and bottle fed babies. It is suggested that in some cases of colic there is a temporary deficiency of the enzyme which breaks down milk into its component sugars.

These drops should be given as a one-week trial and discontinued if they are not effective.

Other strategies

  • Bathing, massaging, swaddling - all these work for some babies.
  • Some babies like gentle singing or humming, others like 'white noise' - the tumble drier, vacuum cleaner, or radio static.
  • If your baby wants to be held or jigged around a lot of the time, invest in a good sling.
  • Often a long walk or a drive in the car will send him to sleep.
  • Cranial osteopathy has been used as a therapy for colic, but there is no clear evidence as to why this should be effective. If you decide to try this always go to a certified osteopath.
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