The constant crying of a colicky baby is heart-rending. It comes at a particularly bad time, when expectations for enjoying a newborn are cruelly dashed. It can make a new parent feel distressed and ineffective if nothing seems to help. It is also exhausting for those parents who find themselves walking the boards day and night in an attempt to soothe their little ones.
What is Colic?
Colic is the name given to the sharp, intermittent abdominal pains or cramps that occur in babies whose digestive systems are still growing. All the internal organs as well as the rest of the physical body carry on developing outside the womb. It is also common in bottle-fed babies who are sensitive to cow's milk and can occur in babies who have had a difficult birth.
Colic doesn't always start directly after the birth but comes on after a few days or even a few weeks. Babies pull their legs up or stretch them out and cry a lot, often after a feed. They may become constipated or you may notice a change in the colour of their stools. They can have colicky periods, usually in the early evening or suffer from more serious colic that lasts through the night — and at its very worst, all day too. This is every parent's worst nightmare.
Feeding Your Baby...What you can do
If you are breast feeding then fiddle with your diet as many foods are known to affect some babies through your milk, including cow's milk (and dairy products), alcohol, tea, chocolate, coffee, spices (including chilies and pepper), onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peppers (especially raw green peppers), strawberries, oranges and grapes. Occasionally egg or wheat products are to blame or even fruit with stones (cherries, apricots, etc.). Try eliminating foods that don't agree with you or those you eat an awful lot of, or eliminate suspect foods from the diet of a baby who has just started on solids and give small meals of bland, easily digestible foods.
Some bottle-fed babies are actually sensitive to cow's milk but you will need to ask your health practitioner about changing the formula, especially if you are thinking of changing to a soya based formula. Although these babies will usually do well on soya milk, it is acidic for some and the high levels of sugar in some soya formulas is a cause for concern.
Remind yourself that your baby's colic will not last forever, even though it feels like a lifetime most babies have grown out of it, have developed a strong enough digestive system to cope, by the age of three months.