Coping with Colic
- Published: Wednesday, 01 February 2017 13:17
What is Colic?
Infant colic affects 1 in 5 babies within the first few months of life, and usually ends at 6 months old. It affects both breastfed and formula fed babies. It can be very stressful not only for babies, but also for parents, as well as young siblings who may not understand the constant crying, and become cranky themselves.
Managing colic and its symptoms can often be overwhelming for parents, as it affects baby’s sleep and feeds. It can put a strain on relationships at a time when bonding is crucial between the whole family unit.
Colic is characterised by the following:
- Inconsolable crying or fussing, that lasts 2-3 hours, usually worse in late afternoon or early evening
- Signs of discomfort such as red face, arching back and clenched fists
- Continuously kicking legs out, and bending them in again
- Hard, distended abdomen with hiccups, flatulence, cramping or bloating
What are the causes of Colic?
Reflux: Infant acid reflux is caused when the contents of baby’s stomach goes back up into the oesophagus, causing burning. This may result in vomiting, hiccups and spitting up. You may notice your baby’s symptoms within 20 minutes of feeding, if not immediately.
Infant gas: If a baby takes in excessive air whilst feeding (breast or bottle), this can cause trapped wind the abdomen. It may be due to poor feeding or latching, tongue tie, alternating between breasts too quickly, or milk passing through too quickly before being properly digested. You may notice your baby’s symptoms within 30-90 minutes of feeding.
Intolerance to lactose or cow’s milk protein: Some babies can become temporarily intolerant to lactose or protein found in cow’s milk. They may therefore experience discomfort as they try to unsuccessfully break down these products in their stomach. You may notice your baby’s symptoms after 1-2 hours after feeding.
How can Osteopathy help?
While it is normal for babies to cry from time to time, parents may find it difficult to manage a colicky baby. As with most conditions, early diagnosis is beneficial. An osteopath can try to identify and minimise the underlying cause(s) of your baby’s discomfort, which may help to reduce some of the symptoms displayed. It is important to rule out any serious medical conditions first.
A consultation with an osteopath may include:
- Treatment on the diaphragm, ribs, chest and neck to reduce any tension and therefore aid better feeding.
- Treatment on the gut to help expel some of the trapped wind
- Advice on medication if appropriate
- Advice on feeding e.g. making sure 1 breast is empty before baby moves to the other breast
- Educating parents on baby massage techniques and strategies to soothe baby e.g. warm bath or placing a warm water bottle on baby’s tummy
Natural approaches & remedies that may help with Colic
- Osteopathy and cranial osteopathy
- Improve feeding and burping techniques
- Lactase drops (e.g. Colief) added to your baby’s feeds to make digesting lactose easier
- Simeticone drops (e.g. Infacol) added to your baby’s feeds to help release trapped air in baby’s digestive system
- Eliminate cow’s milk and dairy products from mother’s diet for a week or two. Your osteopath can also advise you about calcium supplements to maintain good bone health
- Baby massage & encouraging tummy time
If you feel your baby is beginning to show signs of colic, or for a check-up, an appointment with an osteopath for early diagnosis and treatment may be beneficial for you and your baby. As an experienced structural and cranial osteopath, Gwyneth is able to discuss management options with you, and liaise with your baby’s GP and paediatrician if necessary.
If you would like more information, or require osteopathic treatment for yourself or your baby, please contact Gwyneth at the London Osteopathic Clinic on 07985 302543.
Please see “what we treat: babies and children” or “About: cranial osteopathy” for more information about how the London Osteopathic Clinic can help.