When you know it’s colic

When your oth­er­wise con­tent baby has a sud­den per­son­al­ity shift, colic may be the cause, writes chi­ro­prac­tor Dr Mike Mar­i­nus

Your Baby & Toddler - - News -

TWO WEEKS AGO you did some­thing truly amaz­ing – you brought a child into the world and up un­til now it’s all been a blur of feed­ing, sleep­ing, burp­ing and ador­ing your lit­tle bun­dle.

But tonight. Well, tonight things have changed. Out of the blue your peace­ful, con­tented baby has started pulling her lit­tle knees up to her chest, rolling her fists into tiny balls and yelling like the world is com­ing to an end. De­spite your best ef­forts and try­ing to calm her, and go­ing through your check­list once, twice, three times, noth­ing helps.

You change her nappy, try to feed her, even give her a bath, but she just keeps on scream­ing. Then all of a sud­den, as quickly as it be­gan, it’s over as if it never hap­pened.

This sce­nario plays out count­less times a day through­out mil­lions of house­holds around the world – and inevitably leaves new par­ents won­der­ing what they are do­ing wrong.

The truth is that you have done noth­ing wrong – in­fan­tile colic is not your fault, nor is it your baby’s fault. It is a phe­nom­e­non that oc­curs in ba­bies across the board, and is in fact so pro­lific that it is the lead­ing cause of pae­di­a­tri­cian vis­its for chil­dren within the first year of life. WHAT IS COLIC? Colic is cur­rently de­fined as “per­sis­tent bouts of in­con­solable cry­ing which be­gin out of the blue, stop just as quickly, and are ac­com­pa­nied by the phys­i­cal signs of ten­sion. Th­ese be­gin at two to three weeks of age, reach their peak at six weeks and sub­side around three to four months. The episodes ap­pear more fre­quently in the early evenings and last for three or more hours, for three or more con­sec­u­tive days and per­sist for three weeks”.

In prac­tice as a chi­ro­prac­tor, I see many ba­bies who fall short of the three hour re­quire­ments, yet are nig­gly through­out the day. Th­ese ba­bies fall into a cat­e­gory called ir­ri­ta­ble ba­bies and they can ben­e­fit just as much from treat­ment as ba­bies with what is re­ferred to as true colic.

In­ter­est­ingly, to get a di­ag­no­sis of colic your baby must be per­fectly healthy, not mal­nour­ished or in any way med­i­cally com­pro­mised. In fact, a Sh­effield­based study of more than 12 000 ba­bies com­pleted over a thir­teen-year pe­riod show that col­icky ba­bies were ac­tu­ally found to weigh more at birth and gained weight faster than non-col­icky ba­bies.

The di­ag­no­sis of colic is made when all other al­ter­na­tives have been ex­cluded. Con­di­tions such as uri­nary tract in­fec­tion, mid­dle ear in­fec­tion, corneal abra­sion or even thrush can cause col­i­clike symp­toms. So your first stop is to your pae­di­a­tri­cian’s of­fice for a thor­ough ex­am­i­na­tion to rule out any sus­pi­cious un­der­ly­ing causes of your baby’s nig­gling or cry­ing.


The first thing par­ents of col­icky ba­bies will tell you is that the qual­ity of their child’s cry is dif­fer­ent to their usual cries of at­ten­tion.

It be­comes a high-pitched, war­bling sound that can­not be ig­nored. It is en­gi­neered in this way to en­sure that you stop what you are do­ing and rush to your baby’s side. Apart from the cry it­self there are phys­i­cal signs to look for: A red face. Knees flexed up to the chest. Hands rolled into fists. Face looks pained. Back arch­ing and neck ex­ten­sion. Rigid body. Sweat­ing and flushed face. Cold feet.


If your baby is healthy and there are no long last­ing phys­i­cal ef­fects why are we so wor­ried about it? To quote Dr Barry Lester, au­thor of Why Is My Baby Cry­ing? and lead­ing author­ity on colic, “While colic may be self-lim­it­ing, it is not nec­es­sar­ily lim­ited to self.” Sim­ply put, the ef­fect of colic on the fam­ily may last even years after the cry­ing has stopped.

The time of most bond­ing be­tween mother and child takes place dur­ing those first three months and if this time is taken up by cry­ing, fuss­ing and you pulling your hair out in frus­tra­tion in­stead of get­ting to know your child, it be­comes in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for the re­la­tion­ship to move in a healthy di­rec­tion. This takes a toll not only on par­ents (ma­ter­nal de­pres­sion is known to be linked to colic) but also has a spill-over ef­fect into your other re­la­tion­ships within the fam­ily, caus­ing un­due stress and ten­sion.

The de­vel­op­ment of your baby’s neu­ro­log­i­cal sys­tem is di­rectly linked to how she in­ter­acts with the world. When she is con­stantly in a state of stress this de­vel­op­ment is slowed. New stud­ies show that be­ing ex­posed to high stress lev­els dur­ing the first weeks of life may af­fect a baby’s abil­ity to deal with stress and pain later.

Luck­ily, post­na­tal classes, clin­ics, ho­moeopaths, chi­ro­prac­tors, lac­ta­tion con­sul­tants, GPS and pae­di­a­tri­cians are all at your dis­posal for help and ad­vice.

Don’t wait for your re­la­tion­ship with your baby to de­te­ri­o­rate when there are so many places to turn to – get her di­ag­nosed by her doc­tor if you sus­pect colic and then look into the many treat­ment op­tions avail­able to help ease her, and your, dis­com­fort. YB

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