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Handling colic in babies

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A brand new little human has no way of communicating with her parents or caregiver but by crying. Little humans will normally cry when they’re wet, hungry, frightened, or tired. But having one cry endlessly after you have seemingly catered to all her needs can be overwhelming, and a mother will desperately want to pin it on something, so Colic always take the blame, says pediatrician and online concierge doctor for little humans, Zainab A. Yaro, also known as Dr. Mims.

“So you will often hear the term ‘Colic’ being thrown around frequently whenever a baby is crying or being cranky, but what really is Colic? It is a sharp pain in the abdomen caused by wind or an obstruction in the intestines, however, a little human can only be said to have colic after he meets a certain criteria.

“The baby has to be younger than five months, otherwise healthy, crying for more than three hours in a row, three or more days a week, for at least three weeks running – that’s a lot of crying.

Dr. Yaro, while noting on how mothers can identify colic when it happens, said that reminiscing her experience with her little human, one would expect that since she is a doctor, she will understand outrightly what was going on, but then it took her about a week or two to realise his fussiness and problem sleeping was actually due to Colic.

“Like myself, many mothers watch helplessly as their babies cry in discomfort and wonder how they can ease their pain. If your baby shows any of the following signs, she may have Colic.”

. Excessive crying, often at the same time of day (usually in the late afternoon or evening).
. Cries that are louder and higher-pitched than normal. Your baby may sound like she’s in pain.
. Inconsolableness, despite your efforts to soothe her.
. Crying episodes that start and end suddenly.
.Your baby may also clench her fingers, arch her back, and look flushed. She may even extend or pull up her legs and pass gas as she cries, all signs that she might be having gas pains.

Dr. Yaro, however, stressed that colic is not preventable and no one knows for sure what causes colic. It happens in both breastfed and formula-fed babies, as well as in firstborn children and those born later in the birth order. It has been theorised that colic may be a way sensitive babies release stress, especially during the evening hours when it’s harder to cope with the sights, sounds, and sensations around them.

“Excessive gas is also pinned as a culprit, although that, too, is not entirely to blame. Though colicky babies do tend to swallow excess air during crying spells or feedings, which can lead to more gas and discomfort,” she said.

Colic might not be entirely preventable, since its cause is not well understood, however, there are a few things to help reduce its frequency, duration and intensity.

. Make sure your baby is upright and has a good latch on the breast while feeding; this helps prevent him from swallowing air as he feeds.
. Take pauses during feeding to burp your baby adequately, this helps to expel air that might have been swallowed while feeding.
. If your baby is colicky, try feeding him less, like every three to four hours, rather than every one to two hours. This will give time for his stomach to empty and his feeds to be digested.
. If you are not able to breastfeed and are bottle feeding or expressing/pumping, try using the now widely available special bottles with innovative vent systems, the unique design is known to keep air bubbles out of breastmilk and formula, and provides vacuum-free feeding that’s similar to breastfeeding. This makes it so your baby can feed at a comfortable pace without gulping a lot of air.
. Whenever your baby is crying, either because he is hungry, wet, sleepy or just needs to be held, try attending to his needs as soon as you can, because a crying baby swallows air, contributing to gas in his tummy thus leading to colic, and to make matters worse a colicky baby will then cry and swallow more air, so it’s a vicious cycle really!


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