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Here is the solution for your baby’s colic
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Here is the solution for your baby’s colic

Infantile colic crying in babies can be a daunting task for new parents to deal with. Experts suggest simple ways to overcome this dilemma

Managing colic in babies

Controlling colic in babies is a difficult task that new parents have to embrace. Infantile colic is a term used to describe unexplained and persistent episodes of excessive crying in an otherwise healthy baby. Though the baby’s crying appears to be worrisome, confusing and disappointing at times, according to experts, there are ways to manage the situation.

What is infantile colic?  

Infantile colic is common in newborns, particularly during the first few months, says Dr Benny Benjamin, pediatrician and neonatologist at Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai. “It is more severe than normal crying. It is not generally present at birth and develops by the second month. The crying usually occurs in the evening or night,” he says.

Dr Kalale Nikhil Nagaraj, consultant, pediatrics and neonatology, Aster RV, Bengaluru, says that colic crying happens usually at the end of the day and the night because babies are more active at night and asleep during the day. “The crying usually takes place for 15 to 30 minutes. However, it can also go on for more than an hour or so.”

Types of infantile colic crying  

Oftentimes, new parents are unable to differentiate between the baby’s regular crying and colic crying.

“Babies cry to indicate that they are hungry, want to relieve pain or discomfort or need their nappy changed. This form of crying will end once all of this is taken care of. However, we cannot classify this as colic because colic cries are more intense and the baby grows fussier,” Dr Benjamin explains.

Even though studies determine there isn’t a particular reason why colic occurs, according to a review article published in the official journal of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, there are two possible reasons for infantile colic – non-gastrointestinal and gastrointestinal.

  • Gastrointestinal causes – Colic crying can occur when the baby’s digestive system is irritated. Both breastfeeding and formula milk can cause this. “Sometimes the mother’s diet may be a trigger for the crying, especially if she consumes a lot of dairy products or nuts, which may contain allergens,” Dr Benjamin says. “Caffeinated beverages and chocolates, vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, broccoli or high protein and spicy diets cause extra gas for the baby.”

Even though formula milk is a modified version of cow’s milk, some proteins in it can cause discomfort in the baby’s digestive system.

  • Non-gastrointestinal problems – A baby’s environment, for example, could potentially be a trigger. “Occasionally, the baby’s surroundings may not be nice. In such cases, it’s best to get away from the situation,” explains Dr Benjamin. “I’ve had parents whose babies stop crying as soon as they arrive at the clinic. The child’s surroundings are important,” he adds.

It is also important to rule out other health factors that can cause inconsolable crying that may not be colic. “New parents must check for red flags like fever, infection, urinary tract infection (UTI) and also see if the baby is not gaining enough weight despite feeding,” says Dr Nagaraj.

How to manage colic 

Neha Arya, a 33-year-old mother from Gurugram, New Delhi, recalls her seven-month-old crying a lot when he was around three months old. “It was a stressful time for us because we couldn’t figure out why he was crying so much. We went to the doctors and they explained what colic is and how we could manage it,” she says.

Arya says her son’s colic crying was primarily due to stomach issues. “I made certain that he burped properly after he was fed.” She would rub the baby’s back to make sure he passed gas. Now, for Arya’s baby, such crying spells are a thing of the past.

Dr Nagaraj highlights the things parents should do when their infant begins to cry:

  • Pick up the baby and hold her/him upright, gently placing the baby’s head on your shoulder
  • Rock or gently pat the baby’s back to ensure that he/she burps or passes gas
  • Ensure the baby is not made to lie down immediately after feeding as this will cause digestion problems, which will trigger crying.

Dr Benjamin says that certain distractions can help the baby calm down. “White noises like the sound of the fan and the vacuum cleaner can help,” he says and adds that new parents shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to their dear ones for help if they can’t manage things by themselves.

Takeaways  

  • Colic refers to prolonged, uncontrollable spells of crying in healthy babies that usually occur at the end of the day.
  • Colic can occur due to non-gastrointestinal or gastrointestinal issues.
  • Rock or gently pat the baby’s back to ensure that he/she burps or passes gas.

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