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Colic is one of the conditions that could be responsible for your baby’s unsettled behaviour. Babies with colic often scream for hours on end and they cannot be soothed by normal methods such as feeding and cuddling.

The symptoms are often worse late in the afternoon and early evening. Of course this is when you are most tired and trying to put dinner on the table.

Colicky babies pull their legs up towards their tummies, clench their fists and arch their backs in pain.

They appear to be gassy and bloated and are in obvious discomfort. Up to 40% of babies born may suffer from colic type symptoms in their first weeks of life. Their sleeping patterns are disturbed, as are those of their exhausted mums!

How do you know if your baby has colic?

Firstly you need to discuss your baby’s symptoms with a health professional – your GP or pediatrician, your maternal health nurse, your lactation consultant or your pharmacist.

Do NOT be put off by uninformed answers such as “All babies cry.” Of course all babies cry – it is their only means of communication.

However they should not cry for hours at a time and they should not appear to be in pain.

You are a mum and you need to keep asking questions and doing your research to make sure you get the help you need.

What causes colic?

Very good question! As a pharmacist, I believe the most common cause is immature gut. Babies are born without the necessary digestive bacteria to cope with all the milk they need to drink to put on weight, grow and develop.

Some babies cope well and their gut flora develops quite quickly and colic is not a problem, However other babies, particularly those from a caesarean delivery which is often followed by antibiotic therapy, have trouble coping and colic symptoms appear quite early in their development.

These babies are often full of wind and the intestinal discomfort results in hours of uncontrollable crying, wriggling and disturbed sleep.

Always remember it is not your fault that your baby has colic. It is just a set of circumstances that result in a very unsettled baby and an exhausted mum.

What can you do about colic?

Fortunately there are lots of things you can try:

  1. There are medications you can use, many of them containing natural herbs.
  2. Dietary changes in breastfeeding mums can help a lot to prevent wind in babies. Also be aware that some babies may have a lactose or milk protein intolerance and excluding dairy from mum’s diet may have a positive effect. You don’t need to drink milk to make milk! However if no change is detected after two weeks, it is probably not worth persisting with restricted diets.
  3. Having regular feeding routines with at least three hours between feeds places less strain on the baby’s digestive system.
  4. Introducing a probiotic for both baby and a breastfeeding mum could hasten the gut maturity in the baby and shorten the colic weeks. Ask your health professional for a recommendation.
  5. See a lactation consultant to ensure your feeding technique is not allowing your baby to take in too much air whilst feeding.
  6. Ensure you have feeding breaks to burp your baby. Don’t get too hung up on this though – it is not worth patting a crying baby on the back trying to get a burp as this just adds more air to the baby’s stomach.
  7. Motion and background noise may help to soothe a distressed baby. The womb is a mobile noisy place and absolute quiet may be frightening to a newborn.
  8. Swaddling. The womb is also fairly cramped so most babies enjoy being wrapped with their hands up near their face so they can self soothe.
  9. Dummies can be very useful as the sucking motion can help to calm a distressed baby.
  10. Cuddling and massage are tactile ways of connecting with your little one and rubbing a colicky baby’s tummy can be very soothing.

How long will my baby suffer from colic?

This is like answering the “how long is a piece of string?” question. Some babies will grow out of colic fairly quickly whilst others will suffer for some months.

All you can do is choose a treatment plan that works for you and your baby, which is usually a combination of techniques.

Ask questions and ask for help and make sure you take a break now and then to recover your equilibrium. Someone else can cope with the crying whilst you take a walk or a nap!

Eventually babies will leave the colic weeks behind but, in the meantime, everyone needs perspective and some sleep and that’s why you need techniques and strategies to help you and your family to cope on a daily basis.

The good news is that colic is a condition not an illness and, despite all the screaming, colicky babies are usually quite healthy and will grow and develop into delightful little toddlers.

For more information on colic click here.

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  • So awful for parents and bub to go through.

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  • My son had colic. He cried and cried and cried, it was so hard. For him suffering it and for me who could do so little to help him

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  • Poor bubby when this happens! That’s interesting! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • Luckily for me, I didn’t have this problem with my baby.

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  • I was so pleased when my baby got over this ‘phase’. It was heartbreaking and made me feel so helpless.

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  • I have my fingers crossed I won’t be dealing with baby colic but I’ve saved this page in case I have a colicky baby.

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  • My first daughter didn’t have colic, but my 2nd one had it from the first week till 6 month. It was so hard to see her crying in pain. I tried everything from change of diet to over the counter med nothing worked. When she hit 6 month mark it stoped.

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  • Good read

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  • great to read

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  • thanks for sharing

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  • Both of my babies had colic. It was terrible with my first baby because I had it more figured out by the time I had my second. It was terrible to watch them in so much pain and feel like you can’t help them.

    For me the absolute life saver was homeopathic remedies. They literally changed our lives. I’d tried everything before hand but nothing worked, the Homeopathics worked so well that I ended up going and doing a course about it.

    I recommend that if anyone is having these hassles, go and see a homeopath. The remedies aren’t super expensive and they’re safe too.

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  • I shudder at the topic. It is a horrible thing and nothing seemed to work – thank goodness that stage is well over!

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  • Great info which can save some stress. Thanks.

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  • Quite literally the 5 weeks of my childs life were like a living hell. He was an angel through the day but from 8pm at night – nothing worked. At one point my husband found me standing in the loungeroom at 1am sobbing my heart out while my little baby screamed in my arms.

    None of the above suggestions worked but we finally found some salvation with a chiropractor. It took months for baby to be able to settle into any kind of routine after the first few weeks of his life being so out of whack but we got there eventually.

    Reply

  • Our first born had colic and a combination of restricting my diet as i was breastfeeding, Brauers Colic relief, a shoulder bounce patting motion and block feeding helped calm and relieve and pass the colicky weeks. We found the elimination diet was good for the first 6wks before slowly reintroducing foods and we found that Garlic was the main cause even as a young toddler he couldn\\\’t have any. Now at almost 3 he\\\’s completely grown out of it. I must say our 2nd born had reflux and her screams were much worse for us to deal with until she was put onto medication. We luckily didn\\\’t have colic with her as well. :)

    Reply

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