Colic

This is probably a good place to discuss colic. Simply stated “infantile colic” is a state of irritability in babies, exhibited by unconsolable crying and sleeplessness. The colicky baby continues to cry even after the diaper is changed, food has been offered, love has been tendered, and the rocking chair is out of gas. At some point all babies show some colicky behaviour. But, only about 10-20% of babies are colicky enough to get the label.

These little babies are screaming like they’re in pain……maybe that’s the explanation….growing pains, gas pains, this pain, that pain. It’s awful……..mostly because the parent feels helpless. And also because this often occurs when the parents are sleep-deprived themselves. Many parents believe these babies are ill. But alas, the difference between an ill infant and a colicky infant is often the level of activity. The baby with colic may be kicking and thrashing, and continues to cry long after the parents energy is long gone…..this bundle of energy looks like it may explode. In contrast, the ill infant is often listless.

Here’s what to do:

  • change the diaper
  • offer food (breast or bottle, that is)

  • love ’em (rock ’em, talk to ’em, sing to ’em)
  • move around (sway, rock, or take ’em for a drive)
  • massage them gently

When none of this works, try this……..boil some rice until the water turns as milky as skim milk. Feed the baby an ounce or two of this milky water after it cools to body temperature……..and then gently (and I mean gently) massage the baby’s abdomen while you sing a gentle song. Here’s how gently you massage……..have you ever held a tomato that’s so ripe you can’t cut it or handle it without splitting the skin?……pretend the baby’s tummy is that tomato, and don’t split the skin! A hot-water bottle (careful about that temperature!) to the baby’s tummy may help…..and it may help to place the baby on the bottle with the tummy down while you are holding and consoling the baby (but remember, BACK TO SLEEP!).

Don’t take it personally……..colic happens. You are not failing as a parent if you have a colicky kid. You just have a colicky kid. Do not be tempted to use force to physically restrain the baby in any way. Do not punish this behaviour in any way. If you feel like you might harm yourself or your baby, STOP……..call 911, or one of the crisis line numbers in the front of your local phone book.

Colic usually presents in the first 4 months of a baby’s life. It will disappear without treatment.

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