What is Colic?
Colic is generally defined as crying that lasts longer than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week and for longer than 3 weeks. Babies with Colic often are worse in the evening or at night, they fuss and are hard to soothe. Apart from this a colicky baby will be generally thriving and feed and gain weight well. Further signs of colic may include crying without any identifiable cause, appearing uncomfortable or in pain, arching backwards, bringing knees up, grimacing and writhing with clenched fists, their tummy may appear distended and feel hard.
What is Reflux?
Reflux can be caused by a number of mechanisms in babies; but generally it is due to an insufficiency in the co-ordination of the muscles that close off the top of the stomach to the esophagus (the food pipe). As a result a small amount of milk can spill out again, only partially being digested, causing the infant to regurgitate milk curds after feeding. This can be painful and might feel similar to acid indigestion in adults. Lying babies down on their backs after feeding can predispose this condition. The baby develops the co-ordination of this movement as it grows with symptoms tending to resolve after the first year, however if reflux is present for more than 90 days before 2 years of age, children can be predisposed to reflux further into childhood .
What is Silent Reflux?
Silent Reflux is the same as reflux without the full (being sick) regurgitation of partially digested milk.
What is a normal amount of crying?
As an estimate infants tend to cry for 2.2 hours per day during the first 2 months of life, peaking around 6 weeks old. Crying will slowly tend to decrease after this.
Winding and Burping Techniques
A few effective ways to wind a baby:
- Hold your baby against your shoulder and gently rub or pat her back. Often I find bouncing gently when patting and keeping the heel of the hand just below the level of the ribs against the chest wall whilst patting with the upper palm and fingers works best.
- Sit her on your lap supporting her head with your hand under her chin and gently rub or pat her back.
- Lay her stomach-down on your lap- rubbing your baby’s back at the same time helps to provide comfort and reassurance.
- Help your baby to relax in a warm bath or gently massage her tummy in a circular clockwise motion which can bring relief as well as helping to release trapped wind.
Feeding tips for colic and reflux
- Smaller amounts and more often, feeding every 3 hours is a good rule of thumb. Not overloading with milk reduces reflux and wind.
- Keeping your baby as still as possible and upright during and after feeds, helps aid the digestion process.
- Regular winding during feeding try burping after every ounce or when you switch sides, there may be a bit of a fuss to start with but it really helps trapped wind.
Medication for Colic
Infant Gaviscon works by congealing the stomach content into a thicker gel like substance. This reduces the likelihood of the stomach contents flowing back into the food pipe (reflux) and being regurgitated.
Gaviscon helps to reduce the pain from reflux although some parents have told me that it can thicken stools and reduce the frequency of passing them.
Infacol works by helping to relieve trapped wind it helps to join small bubbles of gas into larger bubbles that help babies to bring up the wind more easily w, this reduces pain and discomfort of , which your baby can easily bring up as wind.
Given before each feed it works progressively over several days, to help reduce the frequency and severity of crying attacks associated with colic. Continued usage may help to prevent a further build up of wind. Infacol is available from most supermarkets and pharmacies.
Colief Infant drops are designed to give babies relief from Transient Lactase Deficiency. Lactose is found in breast milk, most formula milk and dairy produce and can be difficult for babies to digest at first. Colief contains lactase, a naturally occurring enzyme that helps break down lactose.
At around 3-4 months old babies digestive systems mature to the point that they are better able to digest and cope with lactose. At this time symptoms should normally disappear.
Fennel, peppermint, chamomile, rooibos teas – are the ones that are good for the digestive system. Drinking 4 cups a day while breastfeeding can give the baby the benefits through breast milk.
This can be quite boring if taken too extremes! Dairy products, caffeine, spicy food, highly acidic foods or food that cause wind are good ones to try and think about cutting out. A fully comprehensive list can be found by clicking on this link.
Homeopathic remedies should generally be discussed with a qualified Homeopath as combinations of different remedies are tailored to suit each individual patient for the best results. I have however heard about using Chamomile, Fennel, Caraway, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Ginger and Aloe.
Gripe water tends to contain a blend of different herbal remedies, they vary but it is important to get a homeopathic approved formula, I have heard good things about Woodward’s and Colic Calm.
For an interesting case study and more information on Homepathic remedies click here. If you would like to contact a Homeopath directly for advice then I can highly recommend Phillipa Newman.
This document is designed as a general aid to parents with children suffering with Colic and Reflux. The information here is a guide from my experience and any serious concerns should be discussed with your health visitor and/or Doctor.
For more information on treatments that may help you or you baby please get in touch with 3 Hares Clinic.
Call 01244316660, or Book Online www.3haresclinic.com