How do I know if my baby has colic?
Does your baby experience lots of wind, explosive poos, tummy pain? Squirms around in discomfort, cries inconsolably, is difficult to comfort? Cries and vomits after feeding, arches their back, has loud gurgling sounds in their tummy, or has a swollen or distended stomach?
If you answered yes to one or more of these symptoms it is quite possible that your baby is suffering from infantile colic.
So what is infantile colic?
Colic is not a single condition. It is a general name given to a range of infant digestive disorders which include reflux, infant gut irritability, lactose intolerance and allergy.
There are different causes of colic which all produce different symptoms and require slightly different treatment and management. Therefore it is helpful for us to be able to distinguish between them.
Baby cries and grimaces immediately on feeding or within the first 20 minutes, small amounts of posset.*
Infant gut irritability
Colic symptoms (‘colicky’) and crying start approximately 30-90 minutes after a feed.
Colicky symptoms tend to occur approximately 2 hours after a feed.
The timing of a reaction is less clear-cut in relation to feeds. The reaction is more likely soon after a feed with often large amounts of gushing vomit, usually associated with skin rashes or dryness.
A baby may suffer from more than one cause of colic which can present a confusing picture. Colic is the most common condition to affect babies (up to 30% of babies) and can be very distressing to both baby and parents!
Around 50% of babies improve by 3 months (with the symptoms for colic peaking around 6-8 weeks after birth) and 9 out of 10 have improved by 6 months. Some have persistent symptoms beyond that.
Most people assume a crying baby is suffering from the same thing – colic – but actually colic is a complex clinical picture and not all crying babies have tummy troubles. A crying baby that does not show colicky symptoms may be uncomfortable somewhere else in their body. Often this can be in their head and neck from being under prolonged pressure in utero or being pinched and twisted during birth.
A 2006 study found colicky infants treated with osteopathy cried less and also showed a significant improvement in hours of restful sleep. This was a small pilot study and further research is required before we can draw any conclusions from the research.
If your baby is suffering from one or more of these symptoms, you can make an appointment with one of our osteopaths to help diagnose the possible cause and discuss the management options for your baby.
*Babies often posset a little when burping, bringing up the milk often with swallowed air or wind. The muscular valve at the end of baby’s food pipe, which acts to keep food in the stomach, hasn’t yet developed properly.
Statistics quoted in this blog have been sourced from Understanding Infant Colic: An Osteopathic Perspective by Clive Hayden MSc, DO, MSCC.
The 2006 study referred to above was A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic, which was published in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.