Not too many moons ago, you gave birth to a tiny miracle. You were told this tiny human would fill your heart with more love than you could imagine and fill your arms with absolute adorableness. All of this has come true, but one thing you may not have been told was what to do when your baby won’t stop crying. You go through the list of possible issues: they’re fed; their diaper is clean; they’ve slept (in spurts) and now you’re racking your sleep-deprived brain to try and find a solution to get your baby to stop crying. Then it dawns on you, your fussy baby might have colic. You never thought it would happen to you, but your little one appears to have all the colic symptoms. So, now what?
Identify the Symptoms of a Colicky Baby
The first step is to determine if you do, in fact, have a colicky baby. When identifying the colic symptoms in your baby, know that you are not alone! In fact, according to the National Health Services in the UK, colic affects 1 in 5 babies. Colic is common and does not mean you are doing anything wrong, so give yourself grace! The mere fact that you’re reading this post about colicky babies shows you care and you WILL find a solution to your baby’s colic troubles. First, let’s determine whether this is colic or just an upset tummy or a temporarily fussy baby. Here are the common colic symptoms:
- Inconsolable crying that occurs around the same everyday, typically in the late afternoon or evening
- Baby appears in distress and clenches fists
- Crying that seems to happen with no obvious reason
- Baby’s face turns red
- Baby draws their knees up to their chest or arch their backs when crying
- Increased bowel movements or spit up
- Baby appears hungry or sleepy but then refuses the nipple or bottle
- Baby appears excessively tired but wakes up shortly after falling asleep
While these colic symptoms are not a definitive diagnosis, they are strong indicators that you may have a colicky baby on your hands and you should look into baby supplements that can add additional nutrition and something to ease their developing digestive system to their diet. If at any moment in time, your baby appears to be in excessive distress, we highly encourage you to seek medical attention. It is never a bad idea to talk to your doctor and verify that the colic symptoms you’re seeing in your baby are not actually something more severe or harmful to their health.
Your Fussy Baby Has Colic: Determining Colic Causes
You’ve read over the symptoms of colic and have ruled out other baby health issues with your healthcare provider. Now, you’re faced with the reality that you have a colicky baby. It can be quite a jarring experience when all you want to do is give your sweet baby snuggles and maybe get a little sleep for yourself (you’re only human), but every time you turn around they’re crying inconsolably. Before you go into sheer panic mode, know there is a light at the end of the colicky baby tunnel! For one, colic symptoms are most common from birth to 4-6 months of age. At this stage in your parental journey, that may seem like a long time, but there are things you can do to bring colic calm to your baby! The first is to explore the possible causes of colic that you DO have control over. Keep in mind that the exact cause of colic is unknown, but there are some generally accepted theories including:
- Environmental Allergies - These can include things such as pollution, tobacco smoke and other common allergens like dust, mold and pollen.
- Infant Acid Reflux - This is an underdevelopment of your baby’s lower esophageal sphincter (ie the muscle that is responsible for keeping stomach acid out of their throat). It’s more common in premature babies, but can also occur in full-term babies too. Recent research has indicated there may be a link between infant acid reflux and colic in babies.
- Immature Digestive System - You may have heard of the ‘4th trimester,’ which refers to the fact that human babies are still developing when they’re born, however, due to the physiological nature of the pelvis, they’re born after 9 months so they can fit through. This means that not only are their bodies still developing, but so is their digestive system. Digesting food can be quite a tasking feat for an underdeveloped G.I. tract and can cause tummy pain or gas as the food or breast milk is passing through faster than it can be broken down.
You May Also Enjoy Learning More About Your Baby’s Developmental Milestones Here
Why A Healthy Gut Can Help Your Fussy Baby with Colic
Starting life with a healthy bacterial balance will impact baby’s health for years to come. Lactobacillus rhamnosus is the most clinically studied strain of probiotic and has been shown to improve good bacteria in baby’s digestive system and promotes digestive comfort. According to Science and Sensibility, the colonization of bacteria in the bowel happens during birth and shortly afterwards. It’s during birth and the days and weeks that follow that your baby is building a healthy gut and the foundation of their future health is being created. Colic affects up to 28% of infants and in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial, the probiotic, Lactobacilli, or a placebo was given to breastfed colicky infants aged 2-16 weeks over the course of 21 days. It was observed during this time that colicky babies who received the probiotic had a reduction in average crying time to less than 3 hours per day, which was about a 50% reduction in daily average crying time from the baseline every week of the 21 day study. Read the abstract here.
Remedies to Help Calm Colic in Fussy Babies
Now that you’ve experienced the symptoms of colic and read over some of the research pointing to gut health playing a vital role, we’ll look at how to calm colic in your fussy baby. While constant crying is a distressing problem for new parents, there are solutions to help your colicky baby. These are the main things to do if your baby won’t stop crying.
- If you’re breastfeeding, stick to a low-allergen diet. This means avoiding things like dairy, soy, gluten,caffeine and may require some testing to see if there are other foods your baby is specifically sensitive to.
- Introduce a probiotic, specifically, Lactobacillus reuteri, found in the UpSpring Probiotic Drops for Baby. A recent study (mentioned above) has found that in its double-blind, placebo trial that after adding a probiotic to a colicky baby’s diet had a substantially positive affect on their overall crying time and discomfort within as little as 21 days!
- Reduce air and gas by helping your baby to swallow less air. This is typically done by using a bottle specifically designed with a smaller hole. Be sure to sit your baby up while they eat and burp them during and after feedings.
Colic can be a very distressing situation to handle, especially as a new parent when you’re already sleep deprived and learning so many new things about your baby. Do not forget that you are doing a great job and this is just one step along the journey of your baby’s life. As a general rule, baby’s outgrow the colic stage by about 4-6 months. We hope you’ve found some nuggets of wisdom here that you can use to help soothe and calm colic in your baby, but know that colic is common and does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Do you have any advice to share with other parents about how you’ve soothed your fussy baby? Please comment below! Do you have a toddler with tummy troubles? Help them stay healthy and consider adding the Upspring Probiotic+Colostrum to your toddler or school-aged child’s diet. Also available at Target and Walgreens nationwide. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.