Understanding Colic

Understanding Colic
As parents, your baby’s crying tugs at your heart. It is your natural instinct to comfort them. And more often than not, cuddling your baby, changing his nappy or feeding him will do the trick. But there is that time, when whatever you do doesn’t seem to work. So, you start to get uncomfortable, you feel worried that something is vitally wrong, and you start panicking.
There is nothing more distressing than to hear your baby scream and cry uncontrollably, but can’t comfort him. And panicking will get you nowhere. Uncontrollable crying for no apparent reason is a common state of affairs for colicky baby.

What is colic?
‘Colic’ (also called evening colic, three-month colic, or paroxysmal crying) sounds like a potentially serious illness that needs diagnosis and treatment. But that’s far from the truth. Colic is not an illness; consequently, it doesn’t need any treatment. Although, it feels like it is driving you over the edge, it doesn’t have a long-term effect on your baby (just on your nerves.) Psychologist and popular author of parenting books, Penelope Leach, referred to colic as a ‘distressing pattern of newborn behaviour with no known cause.’ The NHS, on the other hand, defines it as a ‘medical term used for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy and well fed,’ in other words ‘they really don’t know.’ In fact, some medical scientists reject the idea of colic.

Still, whether colic is a real entity or not, one thing is sure and real, your baby is in distress. He is hurting. You are not the cause of the hurt. And he is not doing it to simply manipulate you to hold him longer. Your baby is not thinking ‘if I cry a lot and scream my mum’s head off, even when she’s already cuddling me, she’s going to cuddle me more.’ There is just no logic to that thinking.

And he is definitely not thinking ‘let’s see what happens if I cry a lot and push mum’s anger button.’

Although colic is still a puzzle for the medical world to solve, it’s very common, with one in five babies affected by it.

How do you tell your baby has colic?
It’s late afternoon, the clock is just about to strike 6:00 and your baby starts wailing. The baby that was the model of good behaviour and textbook perfect an hour ago suddenly turns red, he back arches, his legs stiffen, his fists clenches, he draws up his legs to his tense tummy and he lets out an ear-splitting scream.

You try to comfort him. You cuddle him, but instead of relaxing in your arms, he protests and wails even more. So, you thought maybe he is hungry, so you nurse him. He tries to suckle but can’t settle. He pulls away.

He continues to scream. If, after trying all the possible ways to comfort your baby, he is still screaming, then he has colic.

Symptoms of colic typically starts to appear within the first few weeks of you baby’s life. By four months, most babies are over colic, however, for some babies it can last for six months.

Read the complete series on Colic - exclusive to Funky Giraffe

Coping with colic
Understanding Colic
What Causes Colic
Treatment for Colic
Colic: What Not To Eat When Breastfeeding
Comforting a Baby with Colic

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