When my three kids were born, I had hoped they would be gurgling Gerber babies who never gave me a moment’s trouble. Much to my surprise, they cried and screamed uncontrollably, thanks to what my pediatrician said was colic. He said colic was natural and normal and there wasn’t much I could do about it. Does this sound familiar?
But he was wrong. Colic can be easily and naturally treated, and colic can be just as easily prevented. But first, let’s review what colic is and what causes colic so you can understand what to do if your baby experiences it.
The technical definition of colic is uncontrollable crying for unknown reasons. Your baby is not hungry, wet or tired and yet keeps crying seemingly without stopping. The symptoms typically occur later afternoon getting progressively worse into the evening, and in severe cases, extreme crying can persist all day.
If you do a Google search for symptoms of colic, you’ll find that it is crying for seemingly no reason and the crying appears to have no correlation to pain. This is not so. Your baby is crying because they are in pain – a lot of pain – and it’s much the same kind of pain you experience when you get gas.
But while they can’t tell you that they hurt, your baby makes sure you know it by crying (or screaming), kicking their legs and flexing them toward their tummy, clenching their fists and tightly drawing their arms to their torso. In a few years, you’d call this a temper tantrum, but right now it’s a real physiological issue, not a psychological one.
Since it’s normal for babies to have a little round tummy that sticks out a bit, how do you know if your baby has gas? Just lightly touch their protruding tummy and if it is extremely hard without any bounce, then there is trapped gas causing your baby pain and distention, just like you when you get gas.
Causes of Colic The first step is to determine if colic is really the problem. If your baby cries for no reason, appears to be in pain, and possesses a tight posture alternating with quick extension of the spine and an expulsion of gas, chances are they have colic.
The next step is to understand the causes of colic. One of the most profound challenges every newborn encounters is in coming home to a whole new environment. For the last nine months, they have been inside your uterus where they were safe, secure, warm and protected, with everything they could want provided to them effortlessly.
But once they’re born, they have to deal with a completely different way of life and processing foreign sounds, sights, smells and sensations, including the totally alien concept of eating through their mouth.
While this is a normal occurrence for us, it is an entirely new experience for your baby, and their body has to learn how to process nourishment in an totally different way from what they’ve been used to.
Colic begins when your voraciously hungry baby is gulping in a tremendous amount of air along with their food. This makes excessive intake of air the single most common cause of colic.
The second most common cause of colic is the existence of air in the stomach, and the best way to eliminate that captured air is by burping your baby. This is very important because air in your baby’s stomach will take up valuable room that is needed for food, so even if it takes a while, make sure your baby burps after ever meal.
The third cause of colic is gas-forming foods ingested by you if you’re nursing or the ingredients in formula if you’re bottle feeding. If you are nursing, you’re still eating for two, except now you may need to alter what you eat to meet your baby’s special nutrition needs.
Foods for You and Baby When you’re nursing, it’s best to avoid raw vegetables and foods high in roughage or fiber like whole wheat and corn, apples pears and salads, except for spinach salads which are gently and easily digested.
Instead, stick to applesauce and cooked vegetables, and foods like nut butters, potato bread, rice, eggs and good protein sources like lean cuts of beef, turkey and fish. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of nutrition for both you and the baby. This routine may make eating boring for you for a while, but it won’t last forever and it will help your baby enormously.
If you’re bottle feeding, you’ve got lots of formula choices, and the only way to know which one works best for your baby is to see how your baby responds to a particular formula within an hour of a feeding and after they’ve been burped. Sometimes, a switch to a different formula can make all the difference in how well your baby feels.
The process of proper feeding to avoid colic is basically the same whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding because within the first minute of feeding, your baby will have swallowed a significant amount of air.
The only difference in feeding styles is that bottles let milk pass much more quickly than breastfeeding in a minute’s time. Since it takes longer for a nursing baby to draw the same amount of milk from your breast, your baby will take in much more air if they’re being fed with a bottle than if they are breastfeeding.
Successful Burping Here’s the secret to a colic-free baby: feed your baby for one minute – literally count to 60 or watch the second hand on a clock. Then stop feeding and burp your baby. DO NOT feed your baby again until they have produced an adult sized burp.
No doubt your baby will be mad that you’ve interrupted their food, but they’ll be even more upset later when they try to pass the air out the other end, and when they can’t, they’ll let you know about it with a lot of noise.
This first burp is the expulsion of most of the trapped air in the stomach, and will probably be so loud you never thought it could come from such a small person. It’s actually cause for celebration!
Once your baby has burped, they are ready to eat more, and now that the air is gone, they will have room for more milk. Resume feeding for two minutes and then burp your baby again. This burp will not be quite as big as the first one.
Resume feeding. If you’re nursing, switch to the other breast and if you’re bottle feeding, switch to feed your baby with the other hand. Not only does this give you a break, but alternating back and forth is crucial for your baby’s neurological development, so make sure you switch sides every time you resume feeding after burping your baby.
After you have changed sides, your baby may eat as long as they want to. Your baby will get most of the milk they need within the first five minutes of eating, and after that, much of feeding involves comfort and play. Then burp your baby; this final burp may be merely a bubble since all the excess air is now gone from their tummy.
Because the first two burps release most of the trapped air, be sure to take the time at feeding time to elicit a burp. If you don’t, you and your family will be paying for it later -usually in the middle of the night when everyone would rather be sleeping. Occasionally, it might be difficult to get your baby to burp, and you should get them to burp before they get too mad because they will suck in more air and the cycle will begin again.
Hidden Burps Here are a couple of tricks to find a hidden burp. First, place your baby over your shoulder and ever so gently, squeeze the lower aspect of their ribs. If your baby squirms or acts as if they have been tickled, there is probably residual air in their stomach.
Work your way from the lower aspect of their ribs all the way up to just below the armpits, continuing to gently squeeze. At the point where they flinch, rub their back from that point upward to coax the trapped air upward and make certain no air is displacing any potential food space.
If you have a reluctant burper and you know air is still trapped and just will not erupt, position your baby’s head lower than their bottom for about five seconds, then quickly and smoothly bring them back upright.
This will force the air bubble to the top of the stomach much like a construction level. Attempt to burp again and don’t be surprised if your baby releases a good belch on their way up.
Moore Wellness Colic-Prevention Formula
* Feed your baby for one minute.
* Stop feeding your baby and burp. You want a good, strong burp to get most of the trapped air out.
* Continue feeding on the same side for two minutes.
* Stop feeding you baby again and elicit another burp to get the rest of the air out.
* Switch feeding sides and let the baby eat as long as is appropriate for both of you.
* Burp again, and if you get bubbles, that’ll be one happy and well-fed baby.
I know it may seem a bit too systematized for a really personal moment, but the results are well worth it. This process can make the difference between a happy, peaceful where everyone gets the sleep and calm they need, or a home that is full of stress and turmoil because no one can rest.
Occasionally, you may need to rush the process of feeding your baby, but if you don’t take the time to feed and burp your baby properly now, you’ll both pay for it later. Your baby doesn’t know about appointments, clocks and time commitments, so you might want to take their feeding schedule into consideration as you plan your day.
The third cause of colic is a hiatal hernia which occurs when part of your baby’s stomach bulges upward out of their belly and into their chest cavity. Just about every baby has this because of the changes in the way their body now has to process food.
While your baby was in your womb, their digestive muscles didn’t have anything to do, but now they have to learn how to push food down into the stomach. And when milk hits the stomach, the stomach muscle says, “This is new. What do I do with this?” and it goes into a bit of a spasm as it begins digesting.
When it goes into a spasm, part of the stomach pulls up through the diaphragm into the chest cavity and the lower portion of the stomach remains in the abdominal cavity. This creates an hour-glass configuration of the stomach – the stomach will stick out between the ribs on the center of the stomach and appear as a small water balloon.
To put your baby’s stomach back into a normal position, take your thumbs one on top of the other and gently apply pressure downward toward their belly button. Keep repeating the movement from the ribs down until your baby’s stomach is soft and no longer distended. Use a very light pressure so the muscles won’t tighten up.
Advanced Colic Treatment
The other techniques for relieving colic are using two reflexes in the lower abdomen. One is in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen called the ileocecal valve where the small intestine joins the large intestine and the other is called Houston’s valves which are at the lower left. Both of these valves open and close to control the flow of food and waste in the digestive
If your baby is in agony and has their legs drawn up toward his tummy, take hold of their right leg and gently flex their thigh toward their abdomen. At the same time, apply very gentle pressure at a spot mid way between the hip bone and the belly button with the pads of your fingers.
It will be very tender and the muscles will fight you if too much pressure is applied initially, so be careful to start slowly and add subtle pressure as the stomach softens.
This technique will work even if you don’t completely understand what you are doing. The worst that will happen is that you have spent some great time with your baby. The more you do it, the more likely you are to recognize the results and your baby will have nice soft tummy.
Do the exact same procedure on the left side. Bring the leg into the flexed position to take tension off the stomach, and then apply subtle pressure at the midpoint between the belly button and the hip bone. Wiggle your baby’s leg and play a bit to make it as fun as possible for your baby.
The last spot is the small intestines’ reflex point. Apply very easy pressure on top of the belly button directed toward the spine to alleviate any knots that may have developed in the small intestines as the digestive system. When you do this correctly, there will be and almost immediate relief of your baby’s pressure and discomfort.
Happy Baby, Happy Family
Despite what you may have been told or read somewhere, colic is not inevitable and can be effectively and safety treated and prevented. With proper feeding and burping, and he correct formula or foods if you’re a nursing mom, your baby and the rest of your family will be all smiles.
Post time: 06-20-2017