Infant colic causes strong crying episodes in babies that, many times, end up confusing parents. Doctors give some guidelines to deal with it.Some of the main reasons for consulting the doctor are usually those related to infant sleep, feeding, breastfeeding and infant colic. Today we are going to talk about the latter, since it is common for it to cause anxiety and confusion to parents.
The most widespread definition of infant colic describes it as episodes of intense and vigorous crying at least three hours a day, three days a week for at least three weeks in a healthy, well-nourished baby. And this is evidenced by this study published in Primary Care Pediatrics.
Most of the time, they usually appear around six weeks of life and crying spells are described as sudden attacks of great intensity that appear at the end of the day. The improvement appears around four or six months postpartum.
What are the crises like?
The characteristic thing is that babies adopt a very typical position, since they flex their thighs on the abdomen, clench their fists, their face becomes noticeably red and they tighten their tummy.
These episodes can last from several minutes to hours. In the periods between seizures, the little ones are completely asymptomatic and smiling, and, during their follow-up, they eat and gain weight normally.
Causes of infant colic
The causes of infant colic are multifactorial, that is, there is no single cause that causes them and, many times, there are several predisposing factors that make a certain individual suffer them. These factors, as evidenced by this study published in the research, can be
- Organic: immaturity of the digestive system, lactose intolerance, etc.
- Behavioral: baby temperament, behavior at home (first-time parents), use of nipple shields, type of breastfeeding, lack of attachment…
- Anatomical: presence of lingual frenulum, alteration in the palate, low weight.
What can be done?
The first thing we have to say to reassure parents is that it is a benign process for which there are no universal remedies. The main thing is to comfort babies and attend to their crying always, since letting them cry not only will not make the colic go away, but it can cause other physical and psychological complications in the little one.
Before the crying of the little one, logical causes must be ruled out, such as, for example, that he is hungry, cold, hot, sleepy, the diaper, etc. It is true that, as the weeks go by, parents are able to identify the type of their baby’s crying and, based on that, they already know what needs they have.
Likewise, any pathology or disease must be ruled out , such as an earache or pain in the gums. For this, it is important to go to the pediatrician when you see that your baby may have some kind of pain.
If from a medical point of view the baby is healthy, but you suspect that it may suffer from infant colic, it would be interesting to go to a specialized center with a multidisciplinary team.
What is an infant colic consultation?
An infant colic consultation can be approached in a multidisciplinary way; in this case, a midwife, a pediatric nurse, a physiotherapist and, when necessary, a psychologist collaborate in the consultation.
The first thing that is usually done is a history of childbirth, pregnancy, the first days of life and a family history. Afterwards, a physical examination of the baby is carried out: abdomen, diaphragm, oral cavity, signs of atopic dermatitis, etc.
In the same consultation, a feeding of the baby is observed, either from the breast or from the bottle, in order to rule out problems with grip, since, in many cases, these are usually a reason for him to swallow air. Finally, the treatment with physiotherapy or osteopathy is carried out and the corresponding guidelines are given to the parents.
Guidelines for parents
- If you breastfeed, avoid nipple shields from tubs or pacifiers that can produce a nipple confession. In addition, a breast should be offered until the baby spontaneously releases. It is, then, when it will switch to the other, after having expelled the gas. It is necessary to make sure that the grasping technique is correct and that the child does not have a lingual frenulum so that the tongue can move correctly.
- If a bottle is given, it is important that the technique is also correct and make sure that the baby does not present any changes in the mouth. You can opt for an anti-colic bottle of those that regulate the flow of the milk outlet and for low-lactose milks.
- After feeding, it is important to keep the baby in an upright position so that all the air is expelled.
- Dietary guidelines can be offered to the mother if the baby is suspected of having intolerances or allergies, such as removing dairy, gluten, eggs, tree nuts, soy, or fish for two to three weeks to check for improvement. In the event that there is and that the mother is breastfeeding the baby, a somewhat restrictive diet will be maintained; if there is no improvement, all the foods that it had been advised to withdraw will be reintroduced.
- An infant massage, performed by parents or caregivers, can be beneficial for the little one. Also, by a physiotherapist specialized in infant colic. Despite the fact that, as this publication of the recent research, there is no scientific evidence that indicates that abdominal massage modifies the digestive tract, it has been proven that it reduces crying and improves sleep hours and attitude of parents before colic.
- You must always attend to the baby’s crying.
- The skin-to-skin technique has been shown to make babies cry less. Also, ergonomic carrying. In this way, a correct position of the baby is ensured and will help him to expel gases. In addition, by having it close by, your demands can be met immediately.
- Slightly incorporating the head of the crib is a good recommendation to avoid colic in the infant.
Faced with colic in infants…
As you have seen, it is a very common condition in babies under 4 months and it arises regardless of the type of breastfeeding they are administered.
Although there is no specific cause, some guidelines can be followed, such as those mentioned, to alleviate the symptoms and make the crying time of their little one more bearable for parents.
However, it is always recommended to consult a pediatrician to provide an appropriate diagnosis and treatment for each case.