Colic is an incredibly common conversation amongst Moms, a very common reason for consulting a doctor and is commonly blamed for discomfort and a variety of other symptoms in babies.
Infantile Colic by pure definition is a non-sinister process with no known cause in which the baby experiences spasms of inconsolable crying for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for longer than three weeks. It affects approximately 10% to 40% of infants worldwide and peaks at around six weeks of age, with symptoms resolving by three to six months of age. It does not necessarily have anything to do with the digestive system.
However, parents will believe their baby has colic any time one or more of the following symptoms are present:
- Reflux and regurgitation
- Poor winding and farting
- Poor and or painful bowel motion
- Clenching fists
- Bringing knees to chest
- Arching spine
- Stiff spine and body
- Poor Sleep
- Uncomfortable and “looks like they in pain”
The common approach to colic includes the use of probiotics and other over-the-counter herbal medications (Gripe Water and the like). Probiotics are a good idea however the over-the-counter medications have not proven to be effective. A Pediatrician or GP may well prescribe Dicyclomine or an antacid however they are not proven to be effective either and the side effects are concerning. Otherwise, placing the baby on a formula or changing formula may be tried.
When a ‘colicky baby’ is presented to a Chiropractor, he/she will be inspected for interference to the nerve that connects to the developing digestive system. The interference will have caused stress to the baby and the digestive system, decreasing the function of the digestive system and causing many of the symptoms listed above. However, often it is not the digestive system causing the symptoms, but issues with the respiratory system or just pain and soreness that the baby is feeling. It could also be an autonomic disturbance, ie the baby is in a state of stress and will not eat, poop or sleep effortlessly.
The Chiropractor’s job is to locate the vertebra(e) that is not functioning correctly and causing neurological interference. The Chiropractor will then adjust the vertebra(e) and reset the system allowing the body to heal and the baby to move towards a healthy and happy state. The general time frame for this is between 2 to 4 weeks and will require some modifications and assistance by the child’s Mom.
Ideals Mom can aim for:
- A calm, relaxed environment at home with neutral sensory stimuli. Goldilocks said, “not too hot, not too cold, but just right!”
- 100% breastfed baby with a simple balanced diet for the Mom. Avoid starchy carbohydrates, stimulants of any sort, acidic and spicy foods. Moms should be well hydrated, relaxed and not medicated in any way. Consult with a lactation consultant if you need assistance breastfeeding.
- If the baby has to be formula fed, make sure you choose the right formula that matches your baby. Do not stick to the dosage, make it as watery as needed for the baby to consume and be able to pass motion on. Always use great quality probiotics to help the digestive system mature.
- Babies must sleep flat, minimise time in a car seat and avoid too much “pass the parcel” from one aunt to the next!
Babies love to be moved, stretched and massaged when they are awake. This is best done in conjunction with a nappy change but avoid over-stimulation and over-stretching. Your Chiropractor will show you the movements that would work best for your child, however, these have been shown to have great results:
- Stretch arms and legs straight
- Bend knees and roll to one side and the next
- Push knees into chest
- Push feet to forehead
- Side bending of the spine; ear to hip
- Tummy time (from as early as comfortable; just make sure their arms are underneath them and they are not “sky-diving”)
- Massage from the bottom of the spine upwards.
- Massage of the abdominals – clockwise deep pressure with palm of hand into belly button, lower right quadrant, upper right quadrant, upper left quadrant and lower left quadrant.
The ultimate goal is for the baby to be healthy, happy and develop as completely as possible – and remember that there is no perfect parent, child or scenario!