Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Colic is a common problem, often misunderstood

Of all health problems that could affect babies like lack of appetite, inability to smile or failure to gain weight, colic seems to be bringing terror to the little ones and depriving their parents the hours of sleep they deserve. Every month when I take my 9 month old baby to Phase 2 clinic, I always have the opportunity to sit and discuss issues affecting babies with other mums.

“This one cries a lot, we rarely sleep. I can’t leave him with anyone because he cries a lot, for that reason I became a stay at home mum. I worry a lot though about his dad who needs to be in the office every morning. I always watch Titosi suffering as I sit there helpless not knowing how to calm him,” said Thuli Meleko, baby Titosi’s mum who has to deal with colic every day. “During the attacks his face flushes, his brow furrows and then he draws his legs up, clenches his fists and emits high pitched piercing screams,” said a distressed Meleko. She said she has tried all the tricks she learnt from other mothers like picking him and rubbing his back, but nothing has been successful.

Colic is a term used to describe uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. “If they are younger than 4 months old and can cry continuously for more than 3 hours weekly, they are considered colicky,” said Dineo Bantwa, a nurse at Phase 2 clinic. She said the mysterious condition causes parents a lot of confusion and stress. “If the baby cries a lot the only sure way to know if it is colic or not is by physically examining them, but more often than not excessive crying is due to the nightmare condition,” Bantwa said. Though there’s no clear way to help colicky babies some theories ascertain that growing┬ádigestive system┬áwith muscles that often spasm, hormones that cause stomach pain or a fussy mood and a nervous system that’s still developing are some of the causes of colic,” said Bantwa. She advised that colic can get better on its own and that parents may just need to wait for the fussiness to improve on its own from the age of 4 months going up.

“Wind and indigestion may also contribute. There has also been speculation that the baby’s gut might be immature and sensitive to some of the substances in breast or formula milk,” she said. Bantwa said it is worthy to note that milk allergies and What is lactose intolerance? What causes lactose intolerance?”lactose intolerance have similar symptoms to those of colic although she came to the conclusion through her personal experience as a nurse.

“It cannot prevent colic but if you think the distress is related to feeding, you may lessen the frequency of episodes by trying to hold your baby upright when feeding to prevent them from swallowing air, wind them often especially after a feed, give them smaller amounts more frequently. If caffeine in your diet. Try to soothe your baby with motion like taking the little one for a spin,” cautioned Bantwa. She said holding the baby throughout the episode may not help much but it reassures the little one that they are loved.


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