Friday, July 10, 2009

What exactly is colic?(colic and baby colic)

What exactly is colic?

About 20 per cent of all babies develop colic, a catch-all phrase for uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. A baby with colic cries or fusses for more than three hours a day, for more than three days in one week. It occurs with equal frequency among first- and later-born children, and in boys and girls.

It's hard to know who finds colic harder, a parent or a baby. A colicky baby is obviously in distress, uncomfortable and can't soothe himself. But a parent can be just as upset - listening to a baby's cry for hours on end is enough to drive you to tears of your own.

How can I tell if my baby has colic?

All babies cry sometimes; in fact, the average baby cries about two and a half hours a day. But in addition to persistent crying, a colicky baby looks truly uncomfortable. He may alternately extend or pull up his legs and pass wind. Colic usually occurs between 6pm and midnight, though it can occur around the clock, generally becoming worse in the evening.

Generally, a baby becomes colicky around two to four weeks, and is over it by about three months or, in less fortunate cases, six to nine months.

Why do some babies get colic?

Scientists have been trying to answer that question for more than 50 years. It's often blamed on the baby's immature digestive system. In fact, the word colic comes from a Greek word kolikos, which roughly translates as "colon." There is also some science to back this up. For instance, a newborn's digestive tract contains very few enzymes or digestive juices, which break down food substances. Or, according to some, a child's still-developing nervous system simply tenses up. Others subscribe to the theory that the baby is tired or overstimulated, and that colic is his way of blocking everything out so he can sleep. Babies who are exposed to smoke are also more likely to develop colic.

Is colic serious?

Not really - apart from the household tension it creates. However, it is wise to seek assurance from your doctor or paediatrician that the root of your child's prolonged crying isn't a hernia or other medical problem.

I've heard colic is caused by the mother's diet. Is this true?

Both formula and breastmilk can be linked to a baby's colic.

Occasionally breastfed babies become colicky because of something in their mother's diet. Some mums find that if they stop drinking cow's milk and other dairy products, the situation improves. If you're breastfeeding, try cutting out dairy products for a few days to see if that makes a difference. If your baby's colic improves, you have your culprit. If not, don't give up hope - and at least you won't need to deprive yourself of butter and milk.

Some breastfed babies seem to be bothered if mum indulges in a lot of spicy food, wheat products or cruciferous vegetables. Again, to test if these foods are making your baby uncomfortable, avoid eating cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, caffeine, alcohol and other irritants for a few days. If your baby seems better, reintroduce the foods into your diet, one at a time, allowing a few days between reintroductions. It should be fairly easy to pinpoint which one is causing your baby problems: if he starts fussing again after a food is reintroduced, then you'll know that's the offending substance. You'll have to abstain from it until your baby outgrows his sensitivity, which usually at around three months, but that's a small price to pay for a happy child.

If your baby is formula-fed, you might try switching formulas to see if that's the irritant. And whether you're feeding your baby formula or breastmilk, make sure that you're burping him during and after feedings - it helps relieve the pressure that builds up when he swallows air.

Will all that crying hurt my child?

In truth, it may be more painful for the parents who must endure the alternately heart-rending and irritating crying of a child. Colicky babies do just fine. "In spite of hours of crying," wrote the venerable Dr Spock, "they continue to gain weight, not just average-well but better than average. They are hungry babies. They gulp down their whole feeding." And one study even found that colicky babies turned out to be better problem solvers later in life.

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colic and baby colic

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