Does your baby keep crying all night? Is he fussy…or is it colic? Parents often think that any relentless crying jags are a sign of the dreaded ‘C’ word. Then they make another mistaken assumption: the colic is caused by gas. Relatives and friends jump in with all sorts of unsolicited advice, including burping (did that) and rubbing his stomach with ointment (doesn’t work).
But not all crying babies have colic. And colic isn’t caused by gas. Here are the myths and facts about colic, to help those poor, exhausted parents find the real problem—and solve it.
Colic myth # 1: Colic causes stomach pain.
Colicky babies may scream like they’re in agony, but in 9 out of 10 cases, it’s not their stomach that’s upsetting them. In fact, colic expert Dr. Harvey Carp says that it’s very rare for colicky babies to be allergic to milk.
Only 10% of moms say the colic was alleviated when they changed formulas or (if breastfeeding) removed cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy and fish from their diet. Maybe it’s worth a try. But doctors caution breastfeeding moms from drastically changing their diet without consulting them. Your baby needs nutrients to thrive, and if you will make a shift, you have to find alternative sources.
Colic myth # 2: All babies cry. Grin and bear it.
Always tell your doctor about persistent crying. It could be a sign of a more serious medical problem, or even if it is colic, he can give support and advice. Besides, a pediatrician is used to these kinds of issues, and you as a patient have every right to tell him what is going on with your baby.
Colic myth # 3: Colicky babies grow up to be cranky kids.
Colic is not an indication of your child’s personality. He is not necessarily fussy or high strung or high needs. Temperamental babies have other symptoms: sensitivity to touch and sound, and inability to sooth themselves. Instead of thinking of colic as a personality trait, consider it as a thankfully short stage that will soon be outgrown. In fact, most parents of colicky babies say that ‘one night, the colic just disappeared.’
Colic myth # 4: Colic is a sign that you’re doing something wrong.
Nervous parents will take a baby’s incessant crying as a sign of poor parenting ability: ‘ I don’t know how to soothe him’ or ‘He doesn’t like me.’ Moms will also wonder if they ate or did something during pregnancy to somehow trigger this problem. But it is not your fault, and in fact, no study has ever been able to conclusively say that a particular condition, habit or lifestyle increases risk for colic. It’s just parenting roulette: either your baby has it, or he doesn’t.
Colic myth # 5: There’s nothing I can do to help with the colic.
Even if you didn’t do anything to cause colic, you are not helpless. You can soothe your child by swaddling him, lying him on his side (but don’t leave him alone in this position, since he could fall to his stomach and get smothered), white noise like the vacuum cleaner or ‘ssssh’ noises, rhythmic up and down motions, giving him something to suck on like a pacifier or your nipple, and baby massage.
Photo from curebabycolic.com