Colic is extremely common in the first few months of the life of the babies. The word colic means spasm, or painful tightening of muscle. Colic in babies is caused due to wind in the abdomen. The babies cry for 3 to 4 hours and are usually inconsolable. They are extremely distressed due to the abdominal pain. The baby may arch backwards and either draw the knees up or stretch the legs out stiffly. They may even show other associated symptoms such as reddening of face, frowning, grimacing and screaming fits.
Colic usually affects babies in the age group of 2 weeks to 16 weeks. The cause of colic is not known and usually the symptoms of colic get better without treatment in most babies by the age of 4 to 5 months. However, the inconsolable crying of babies is extremely distressing for parents and they may begin to doubt their parenting abilities.
Some forms of treatment for colic are as follows:
Holding the baby upright and patting her back
Once the baby starts screaming as a result of colicky pains the parents can hold her upright and gently pat her back. This can be done after every feed in order to bring the wind out.
Some health professionals advise that gently massaging the baby’s tummy with warm oil may also help in bringing the wind out and relieving the symptoms of colic in the distressed baby. The massage is usually taught by the childhood health nurse and can help to soothe the baby.
Gripe water is a generic term for liquids that claim to ease gas, digestion and other ‘colicky’ symptoms. Different formulas contain different ingredients including some herbal ingredients. There is no scientific evidence that gripe water can improve colic in babies and such products should only be used in consultation with your doctor.
There are some excellent Homeopathic medicines such as colocynthis that can help to relieve the colicky pains in babies. But these medicines should be taken after proper consultation with your homeopath as well as your doctor.
Consulting a doctor
If the baby is not gaining weight properly then the crying of the baby is related to colicky pains that may be associated with other health problems like gastro esophageal reflux disease and lactose intolerance. In these cases it is important t seek medical intervention.
Parents need to take turns in soothing the baby
An inconsolable and distressed baby may cause great anxiety and stress for the parents. Hence parents need to take turns calming the baby and walking her up and down. Gently rocking the baby may help to calm her down for a while but she is again likely to return to the bouts of crying.
Parents may also talk to their health professional or other parents in the same situation. It is also important to ask for the support of friends and relatives especially during the first few months of the baby’s life. After the baby turns 4 months old the parents have already overcome the major parenting hurdle called colic.