An otherwise smiling and relaxed baby can suddenly stretch out its legs, go red in the face and, most importantly, cry or even scream steadily with no chance of solace. A picture that parents of babies with colic know oh too well. What is it exactly and how to combat it?
Baby colic is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain in babies. This is due to the immature digestive system, due to which babies suffer from increased flatulence. Gases in the digestive tract build up, push against the wall of the intestine and cause unpleasant abdominal pain. “It is a combination of the fact that, for example, newborns don’t move much and at the same time get food, breast milk, that causes a lot of wind, so they suffer from flatulence,” says paediatrician Dr. Lucie Skalova. A certain consolation for parents and babies is that usually the colic goes away on its own after the first three months, when the baby grows up a bit, it starts to move more and its digestion adjusts.
A breastfeeding mother’s diet plays a big role in prevention. It pays to avoid flatulent foods, such as onions, garlic, cabbage, legumes or even fresh pastries.
If you are not breastfeeding but bottle feeding instead, aerophagia may be to blame. This occurs when the baby swallows a lot of air with the milk. This then “inflates” the abdomen and causes pain. In this case, it is necessary to take a break whilst feeding and let the baby burp. It will also help if the teats have the smallest possible holes and the milk is not unnecessarily shaken or frothed during preparation.
Abdominal pain can also be caused by an allergy to cow’s milk proteins and gastroesophageal reflux, where the baby is sick for several hours after drinking. “During GER (gastroesophageal reflux), it is important to feed the baby in a raised position, after feeding it should be sufficiently winded and placed in the cot in a raised position (e.g. wedge the mattress in the head area). If the baby is not breastfed but is fed artificial milk, this milk can be slightly thickened with a rice decoction or Nutriton. In most children, GER alleviates with time until it disappears completely. In the case of allergy to cow’s milk protein, it is important to eliminate cow’s protein from the mother’s diet, i.e. avoid all dairy products if the baby is breastfed. If the baby is fed with formula, special milk for allergy sufferers, where the protein is highly broken down, can be used for allergies proven by a doctor. During more pronounced symptoms of cow protein allergy, it is possible to serve just a mixture of amino acids. However, only change the milk after consulting with a doctor,” adds Dr. Lucie Skalova.
If the baby is crying in pain, twisting or rearing up in various ways, try massaging its belly in a circular, clockwise direction around the naval. You can also move its legs so the knees press against the abdomen to release any wind.
A well-heated cherry stone cushion placed on the belly helps some babies. And for others, carrying them in the “tiger in the tree” position helps, where you place the baby face down on your forearm thus massaging its belly. “You can also try the “chair” hold. Hold the baby with its back to you leaning against your abdomen and place you hand under its bottom lifting its legs towards its belly. Or put it on its stomach more often, but do not let it sleep in this position, this increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome),” recommends Dr. Skalova. All babies, without distinction, will be best off in their mother’s or father’s arms when they are in pain.
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