The word colic strikes fear in the hearts of parents-to-be. Colic is very common. It's estimated that up to 40% of babies have it. But knowing this isn't very comforting if your baby has the condition. How can you tell for sure if your baby has colic? When a healthy baby cries for more than three hours per day more than three days per week for at least three weeks, it's called colic. Generally, the condition starts between the third and sixth week of life and ends by the time the baby is three months old.
Unfortunately, the only cure for colic is time.
Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — do to calm their colicky babies.
"If a baby is crying a great deal due to colic, I think the most important thing is to make the infant feel comfortable and secure by holding and swaddling, rocking and sharing a sense of calm and security," says Hana Solomon, M.D., a mom of four and grandmother of eight, a pediatrician and the author of "Clearing the Air One Nose at a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter" in Columbia, Missouri. "This will help the infant be less needy as he/she grows up. Of course, you have to feel confident there are no other issues. Then physical comfort will be helpful."
"My older daughter had colic," says Sadaf Bhutta, M.D., a mom of a daughter and triplets and an assistant professor and the fellowship director of pediatric radiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital, both in Little Rock. "One thing that seemed to help was using a brand of bottle called Dr. Brown's. I think that this type of bottle helped with her colic because it reduces the amount of air the baby ingests while she's eating. But really, there is no single 'cure' for colic. You can try several things and see what works for your baby. Mostly, you just have to survive it, as it can last for several weeks."
"My older daughter had colic," says Eva Ritvo, M.D., a mom of two, psychiatrist and author of "Bekindr: The Transformative Power of Kindness" in Miami Beach, Florida. "It was awful. I used to joke that if my OB-GYN had a return policy, I might have taken her up on it. It's hard to be joyful with a difficult child. At the time, my husband and I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. When my daughter screamed, all of the neighbors would hear her. On top of her keeping us up, the whole apartment complex had to know she was up. My baby had colic in January, so there was nowhere for us to go. I tried everything to calm my daughter down. Mainly, I put her in the Snugli and walked around our apartment for hours and hours and hours.
"My daughter's 'colic' turned out to be an allergy to breast milk," Ritvo continues. "I was beside myself when a baby nurse told me that. I'm a scientist, so I stopped breastfeeding for a few days. My daughter stopped crying. I started nursing again. Sure enough, the baby nurse was right. Of course, it took me weeks to convince myself. I was devastated. They say that humans develop antigens to milk because of all of the cow's milk we drink, and that can make it difficult for the baby to tolerate breast milk. Perhaps if I had eliminated dairy products in the weeks before I delivered my baby, I could have nursed her longer."
"All four of my babies had colic," says Ann Kulze, M.D., a mother of four grown children, nationally recognized nutrition expert, motivational speaker, family physician and the author of the bestselling book "Eat Right for Life" in Charleston, South Carolina. "It defies all logic! My babies all cried for most of their waking hours, until they were each around 3 months old.
"For each of my babies, I was able to find something that did help," continues Kulze. "One was soothed by the sound of the vacuum. My older son would calm down if I put him in his baby swing but on his belly. He looked like Superman swinging back and forth. (Certainly, don't try this unless you will be within reach of your baby!) Another was pacified by my pacing around with her. For my youngest, a fast-paced ride along the neighborhood sidewalks in an umbrella stroller was helpful."
Dr. Rallie's Tip
"Two of my sons were colicky, and I think I tried everything in the world to deal with the condition. One very effective remedy for colic is probiotics, but unfortunately, I didn't know about them when my children were babies. The science supporting the use of probiotics in children and infants is very new. A study published in the January 2007 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics demonstrated that daily doses of Lactobacillus reuteri significantly reduced symptoms in infants diagnosed with colic. Researchers reported that by the seventh day of treatment, 95% of infants receiving probiotics showed an improvement in colic symptoms.
"Although parents of colicky babies might be sorely tempted to take matters into their own hands, it's best to consult with a physician before administering any medications or supplements to infants and children." — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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