Newborns come into the world as being fragile and vulnerable. For the first few weeks, they do not do much other than cry, feed and poop. Crying comes naturally to the babies. It is how they communicate for a large part of the first year of their life.
Crying tells the mothers when their baby is hungry, wet, uncomfortable or sleepy. But what would you do as a new parent if your baby cries inconsolably and at around the same time (mostly at night)? Well, it could be because of colic.
What Is Colic?
Colic is a pretty common thing and can be described as a combination of behaviour pattern that has no apparent reason. Crying for no good reason is the most common symptom.
But the term colic can be used as a blanket term for all the distressing symptoms that a healthy newborn suffers from. Statistics reveal that around one in every five newborns show symptoms that can be described as colic.
The episodes of colic can stretch for hours and can extend well into the late hours of the night. It is exhausting to the newborn and is very frustrating and worrisome for the new parents as well.
How Is Colic Diagnosed?
Paediatricians diagnose colic based on the findings that are popularly known as the "rule of three".
The doctors ask you if your baby's inconsolable crying follows these patterns:
- Your baby cries for a minimum of three hours.
- Your baby cries uncontrollably for at least three days in a row.
- The above happen for at least three weeks in a row.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Colic?
If you are still unsure whether your baby is suffering from colic or not, given below are some other symptoms and signs that can help you determine your child's condition.
The crying happens at the same time. This is usually in the evening and can easily extend into the night. The time can vary but the regularity of time is an important sign.
There is no reason why the baby cries. You will see that the baby is not hungry or tired. He does not have a dirty nappy. He is does not stop crying even after soothing him or making him feel comfortable.
You will notice that your baby flexes his limbs more than normal.
He can either have his eyes closed or open very wide. He can even hold his breath for a period of time.
He may have motions more often than normal. He may pass gas or may even spit up.
The constant crying is not interrupted by even feeds or sleeps. He may try feeding but will reject it soon. He may fall asleep for a while but will resume crying in some time.
What Are The Causes Of Colic?
The reasons of colic are a mystery. It is said that colic is not the result of genetics, sickness or due to something that occurred during child birth or pregnancy. It is also not due to lack of competency on the part of the parents.
There are a few theories that try to explain colic. Some of them include overstimulation, tobacco exposure, immature digestive system, food allergies (reaction to the mother's diet) or infant gastric reflex.
Home Remedies For Colic
Though there is no sure-fire medical cure for colic, there are some things that you may try to soothe your baby during his crying attacks. These are all home remedies that work for colic but if one particular remedy does not work for your child, move on to the next one. Your baby will surely find one of the below-mentioned remedies for colic effective.
Chamomile tea is a popular method to soothe a baby's colic. It works by removing and dissolving built-up gas in the baby's intestines and stomach. All you need is a bag of chamomile tea and some water.
Brew the tea bag in some boiled water and let it cool down. You can feed it to your baby using a small spoon or can even mix it with the formula milk if your baby consumes it. You only need to give it to your baby when he has the colic attack.
If your baby's colic is due to the lack of gut bacteria, feeding your child a teaspoon of curd might help. Curd has a lot of beneficial bacteria that will populate your child's gut and will help in bettering your child's digestion.
Apple Cider Vinegar
The acidic quality of the apple cider vinegar helps in neutralizing your baby's intestines. Add a teaspoon full of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water and mix well. Feed a teaspoon or two of this solution to your baby to ease her colic.
Fennel seeds are a common ingredient that is used to ease colic. It is also added in most colic drops that the doctors prescribe.
It is thought to work by easing the gas build-up in the stomach and by reducing the spasms in the intestines. To make fennel water, add a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of hot water. Let it seep overnight. Feed a couple of spoons of this water to your child when distressed.
Carom seeds are very effective in reducing the pain in the colic-affected babies. Take a spoon full of carom seeds in a pan. Add a cup of water into it. Boil the mixture for a couple of minutes. Let the mixture seep for the night and the next day, strain the seeds from the water. Feed this water to the baby for relief.
Cumin works by helping your baby digest his feeds better. All you need to do is boil cumin seeds in water and let it stay overnight. Strain and feed teaspoons of the liquid to your baby many times in a day.
Peppermint has a strong anti-spasmodic effect. This helps in curing colic in your baby. Add a teaspoon of peppermint oil to your baby's massage oil.
Use this mixture to rub your baby's abdomen in gentle circular motions. This can be done twice a day to help your baby.
Asafoetida is a good anti-flatulent. A spoon of asafoetida is to be added to some water. Boil this mixture well. Let the mixture cool down well.
Apply a little of this mixture around your baby's navel. Make sure that it is not applied into your baby's navel, especially if the umbilical stub has not healed yet.
Grapes and dry grapes are excellent in aiding digestion. You may juice some grapes and feed it to your baby a few times every day. Dry grapes can be steeped in hot water. it should be cold and fed to the baby for relief from colic.
Cardamom is famous for its soothing and anti-bloating properties. It is also good for digestion in both babies and adults. Add a spoon of cardamom powder to some boiled water.
Let it steep till the water cools down. The mothers of the colicky baby should have some of this water throughout the day and before breastfeeding to help the baby.
The vitamin C in oranges helps in aiding digestion. Feed the baby some freshly squeezed orange juice to help relieve colic.
Carrots are great for digestion and in easing the pain of colic. Juice some carrot and feed the juice to your baby several times in a day.
Basil has eugenol in it. It works as an anti-spasmodic and a sedative agent. Use dry basil in some water. Boil it well and let it cool down. Feed the liquid to the baby a few times daily.
You can also make a paste of some fresh basil using some water. Apply this around your baby's navel for relief.
Onion tea helps in preventing the colic and easing its pain if it has started. To make onion tea, chop some onion and add it to some water.
You can also add some honey and peppermint to it. Boil the mixture well and set it aside to cool. Feed a teaspoon of this onion tea to your baby.
Warm baths can soothe the baby. When the baby is distressed, sit the baby in a bath-tub filled with comfortably warm water. You can add some lavender oil to help soothe the baby more.
Gently rub the baby's stomach. Before the water cools down, take the baby out and dry him well.
Warm compress can also soothe the baby the way a warm bath does. Take some warm water in the tub. Soak a clean towel in the water. Squeeze the water out well and place the towel on the baby's tummy. Let it stay there till it cools down. Repeat till your baby is comfortable.
Making Them Burp
Burping the baby after every feed helps in removing excess or trapped gas in the stomach. After every feed, sit the baby down and pat or rub the baby's back to make him burp. Doing this will help in preventing colic.
Oil massage in the proper way helps in soothing the baby. It also helps in digestion and in preventing indigestion. Use some warm olive oil to massage your baby's tummy gently.
Body Exercises For The Baby
There are some exercises that can help in relieving your baby's colic. The knee exercise is the most popular one. Bend your baby's knees gently inwards, as he lies on his back.
Gently push it against the stomach. Do this four or five times at a time. Doing so can make your baby pass gas. This is normal but will help ease the pain of colic.
If nothing else works, some fresh air might do your baby some good. Take your baby outside for some fresh air. Make sure that you dress the baby in a weather appropriate way.