Is Colic Making You Crazy?

Finding relief through a flood of tears.

It can be heartbreaking to see your little one cry while you’re unable to soothe him. Could colic be the culprit?

Nearly 25 percent of infants experience symptoms of colic, which can be defined as crying for more than three hours a day for three or more straight days and lasting at least three weeks. With colic, there’s no explanation for the repeated bouts of crying. Much controversy among parents and doctors concerns whether colic is reflux, which often spurs incessant crying.

Some of the most commons signs of reflux in babies are spitting up or regurgitation. Other signs that a baby is having reflux include hiccups, chronic congestion and marked pain when a baby lies down flat. This is due to the fact that when a baby is on his or her back, all of that stomach milk flows into the esophagus where it burns.

Parents tend to overlook the feeding dysfunction often experienced by babies with reflux. Such babies go to the breast or to the bottle and then immediately pull away or arch back because of the pain reflux causes.

Especially if you’re looking for relief for your colicky baby, it’s important to consider probiotics, or organisms that have a positive impact on our health. There’s a lot of interest being generated about probiotics and what they can do in adults, and this has filtered down to babies. New studies show that certain specific probiotic strains could impact and possibly alleviate colic in babies.

The particular probiotic strain Lactobacillus reuteri, for example, is shown to decrease crying by 50 percent in colicky babies when compared to babies receiving a placebo, or no Lactobacillus reuteri. This new probiotic can be found in Gerber Good Start Soothe or Gerber Soothe Colic Relief Drops.

Studies showing that colic can be relieved with Lactobacillus reuteri is significant because it represents a marked change in how we view colic. It used to be that when a baby screamed, he or she was diagnosed as having colic. But now we’re learning a lot more about what’s going on inside of a baby. We’re learning that a baby’s intestinal flora, or the bacteria that live in the intestinal tract, may play a key role in that baby’s long-term health. In the short-term, this may impact the baby’s irritability. This represents a major breakthrough in our understanding of why babies scream.

Of course, every baby is different, including with respect to colic. As there are treatable and fixable causes of colic, it’s imperative to look for those and ensure those aren’t occurring. The treatment for colic should thus be different for each baby because each baby is different.

Either way, when a baby seems to have colic, it presents a real challenge for new parents. It throws a wrench in your family’s life. You’re first learning how to do everything your baby needs, and then you become uncertain whether something may be wrong with your baby— all while your child cries uncontrollably.

And crying is an important sign that something could be going on. Likewise, partner with your pediatrician to determine what’s happening and whether it’s more serious than colic. Once you’ve done that, there are simple ways to help soothe the upset baby, such as frequent burping, keeping him upright after feeds and using neutralizing white noise that settles his central nervous system.

Finally, it’s also important that families of babies with colic get support from their community, friends and relatives. Just having a couple of hours a day away from the baby who is markedly irritable like this changes a parent’s perspective on it. Be good to yourself and your child by asking for help and taking some moments of solace. You should have renewed energy for being the best parent you can be to your baby.