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Colic. Shhhhhh…... don’t say the “C” word

baby crying

By Burgie Ireland RN RM SANC

Colic. Only parents who have struggled through this ordeal will know how a crying baby can ruin early parenthood, drive you to dementia or cause an early divorce. 

What is it? Colic has been called ‘recurrent episodes of irritability, fussing and crying that lasts for three or more hours a day, and occurs three or more days a week for three or more weeks.’ But parents wearing the T-shirt will tell you that it’s more than that. It’s a persistent, inconsolable cry that becomes as frustrating as a security alarm or an unanswered telephone. Baby’s face is red and tear stained, fists clenched, knees pulled up to his chest and worse, he’s not listening to a word you say.

While some research is analysing suggestions that colic could be an age-sensitive phenotype of migraine, but the general consensus is that when babies drink too quickly, they swallow more air than milk and this makes their tummies feel bloated and uncomfortable. Other suggested causes of colic are burping methods, reflux (or heartburn), transient (meaning it will pass) lactose intolerance caused either by a milk allergy or the after-effects of a tummy bug.

It's good to remember colic will (in 90% of cases) pass, but persistent colic, especially when you and baby starts losing weight, this needs to be professionally investigated. Getting to the heart of the matter is when treatment can begin.

Speak to your pharmacist or clinic sister, family doctor or paediatrician. Try different feeding and burping techniques and carry your baby in a kangaroo sling after feeds so that s/he is in an upright position for at least half an hour.

Unfortunately, babies can’t tell you what or how they’re feeling, but with practice, you can learn to understand their body language. It’s a good skill to learn – especially for days to come when they’re non-communicative teenagers!     

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