It’s thrilling to be able to hold the precious baby you’ve been dreaming about for so long. The sweet little hands, the chubby cheeks; it just makes your heart melt. But what happens when the peaceful sleeping turns to seemingly endless crying? When ‘fussy’ seems to be par for the course, and you’re at your wit’s end to figure out how to help it? It can be frustrating and heartbreaking for parents to be unable to comfort Baby. What can be done?
What is Colic?
Family Doctor explains colic as follows:
Colic is when an otherwise healthy baby cries or fusses frequently for no clear reason. It’s defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day at least 3 days per week for more than 3 weeks. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to relieve your baby’s crying. Managing colic can add stress to already tired or stressed new parents. Colic can start a few weeks after birth. It’s generally the worst between 4 and 6 weeks of age. Babies usually grow out of colic by the time they are 3 to 4 months old.
This doesn’t really give us a lot of things to look for, or ways to help, though.
Mayo Clinic gives the following as symptoms:
Features of colic may include the following:
- Intense crying that may seem more like screaming or an expression of pain
- Crying for no apparent reason, unlike crying to express hunger or the need for a diaper change
- Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished
- Predictable timing, with episodes often occurring in the evening
- Facial discoloring, such as skin flushing or blushing
- Body tension, such as pulled up or stiffened legs, stiffened arms, clenched fists, arched back, or tense abdomen
Sometimes there is relief in symptoms after the infant passes gas or has a bowel movement. Gas is likely the result of swallowed air during prolonged crying.
This gives us a bit more to look for to pin down what colic is, aside from the general definition of “crying three hours a day at least three days each week for over three weeks.”
What Causes Colic?
Cleveland Clinic has the following to say about the cause(s) of colic:
Though the cause of colic is unknown, it’s a common condition.
And then, further down the page,
The cause of colic is unknown. There are, however, several factors that may play a role, including:
- Gas (air swallowed while nursing or crying).
- Reflux (bringing up) of stomach contents.
- Food allergies.
- Milk-protein intolerance.
- Family or caregiver stress.
Family Doctor says much the same:
- Doctors aren’t sure what causes colic. Researchers have looked into many possible reasons. Some of the contributing factors could include:
- Pain or discomfort from gas or indigestion
- A digestive system that isn’t fully developed
- Overfeeding or underfeeding
- Sensitivity to formula or breast milk
- Early form of childhood migraine headache
- Emotional reaction to fear, frustration, or excitement
They don’t know any specific cause, which is generally a good sign there’s more than one source. Babies aren’t programed to be fussy; if there’s no one cause, chances are there are a couple possible causes.
WebMD gives the following suggestions for treatment:
- Is it the breastmilk or formula?
- Help them swallow less air
- Walk or rock
- Go for a drive
- White noise
- Calm the baby’s senses
Mayo Clinic, in its turn, gives the following ideas for treatments and remedies:
You may find it helpful to have a plan, a list of soothing strategies you can try. You may need to experiment. Some may work better than others, and some may work one time but not another. Soothing strategies may include:
- Using a pacifier
- Taking your infant for a car ride or on a walk in a stroller
- Walking around with or rocking your baby
- Swaddling your baby in a blanket
- Giving your baby a warm bath
- Rubbing your infant’s tummy or placing your baby on the tummy for a back rub
- Playing an audio of heartbeats or quiet, soothing sounds
- Providing white noise by running a white noise machine, vacuum cleaner, or clothes drier in a nearby room
- Dimming the lights and limiting other visual stimulation
- They also go on to suggest different feeding positions and bottles to reduce the air, formula changes, and changes in Momma’s diet.
The Wellness Way Approach
No person is programmed for illness. If Baby is crying, there is a source. And if there is a source, it can be addressed. Take a deep breath; finding the right support is key.
As we said in our article on Why You Should Get Your Baby Adjusted:
When they’re born, babies are in what is commonly called ‘the fourth trimester.’ They’re old enough to survive outside the womb, but, for the most part, still developing a good deal. They have both a neurological system firing signals back and forth, and an innate immune system, which is part of what chiropractic adjustments deal with.
They haven’t developed the processes really needed to perceive and think critically about how to interact with their environment. Everything is solely based on how the body is responding to the world around them–the reflex that’s telling the child what to do. … When those nerves and neurological communications get disrupted, the signals controlling Baby’s reflexes don’t get sent properly, stopping them from functioning properly.
This is why we advise you to get your baby adjusted as the first solution to colic. Chiropractic adjustments support the neurological, digestive, and immune systems. When a baby is first born, these systems are primarily what Baby relies on. If something is making Baby unhappy, it’s likely something interfering with these systems.
Your Wellness Way practitioner will help discuss with you what the cause of colic may have been. This will involve taking a health history of Momma, and potentially the baby’s environment.
Typically, a visit to a pediatrician involves a heavy focus on the infant’s history. This is so brief, however, and so largely impacted by Momma’s health, that we focus more heavily on Momma’s history. Anything that happened to Momma during the pregnancy and breastfeeding periods heavily impacts Baby and gives valuable insight to Baby’s health.
Some Alternate Sources
Is Baby on formula? Breastfeeding is much better for Baby. For healthy alternatives, you can look into breast milk donors, or try our recipe for formula.
Is the cause something Momma is eating? Momma’s milk is made up of what she eats. Is Momma eating dairy? Gluten? Soy? Something she is allergic to? Any of these could be causing Baby’s digestive system some troubles.
Is Momma taking medications? Has she taken some medications or hormonal treatments in the past that might still be in her system and getting into the milk?
Is Baby eating too fast? Is Momma’s let down too fast? Momma may need to pump before she nurses to make sure the milk isn’t coming too fast.
Is Baby eating from both sides? Try to nurse from only one side; the early milk has a different makeup than the later milk, and Baby needs both. WebMD explains it as follows:
Breastfeeding mothers make standard breast milk that can be divided into two types — foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is the milk that your baby drinks at the beginning of a feeding, and hindmilk follows it.
Typically, foremilk is mostly water combined with other nutrients, and hindmilk is highly fatty.
Much of the body is made up of fat, so Baby’s body needs the hindmilk just as much as the foremilk to develop properly.
Is Baby overstimulated? As the above lists suggest, dimming the lights and limiting other sources of stimulation may give Baby’s brain a much-needed break. Especially if Baby has been somewhere with a lot of stimulation during the day.
Is Baby gassy? Try holding Baby upright in a sitting or standing position. This may be another time to get Baby adjusted and help them pass the gas.
What to do Next
Get Baby adjusted regularly to keep their systems functioning properly. Keep in mind what you and your Wellness Way practitioner narrowed down as the possible source of Baby’s colic.
Things like dairy, soy, gluten, and allergies can be just as hard on a baby’s developing digestive system as an adult’s. Unfortunately, dairy and soy are very prominent in baby formulas. Allergies, too–Momma’s–can cause troubles for Baby’s digestion.
If Momma needs to get previous medications or hormonal therapies out of her system, try our formula or milk from a bank that you can trust comes from a Momma that doesn’t have these in her system.
If Baby is overstimulated, keep in mind what they’ve been doing through the day. Do they go to a day care with a lot of lights, sounds, and things going on? Try finding a babysitter or quieter environment to give Baby a break from the overwhelm daily.
Did standing or sitting seem to help Baby? Carrying them around in a baby-wearing wrap will help keep them in an upright position–helping their digestion–and keep them close to the comforting beat of your heart.
To get Momma’s or Baby’s allergies tested, or to get Baby–or anyone else in your family–adjusted, contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!