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Babies, Colic, and How to Alleviate the Crying

Jaene Tenorio, Nutritionist
January 19, 2017
Is there a way to appease a colicky baby?

The composition of the mother's milk is, of course, affected by the mother's diet, and thus the concentration of various nutrients in the milk are reflections of the maternal diet. Lactation requires a lot of nutrition and requires a certain caloric expenditure, so it is very important for mothers to be attentive to what they eat and to seek a healthy and balanced diet. Another important factor is to always stay hydrated. Water intake is essential during lactation.


Food ingested by the mother can also cause colic in the baby.


There are different definitions and methodologies for defining the presence of colic. It occurs in about 10-30% of infants and is characterized by almost inconsolable crying for more than 2 hours a day and at least 3 times a week and excessive irritability. Colic usually appears within the first 2 to 3 weeks of life and disappears around the end of the third month. Some probable explanations are excess gas, intestinal immaturity, the mother's emotional condition, allergy to the protein in cow's milk, family stress, maternal intake of foods that cause flatulence, as well as aspects related to the infant's temperament.


Foods such as chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, peanuts, and citrus fruits may also be responsible for colic in infants and are therefore not indicated for a mother's diet at this period.


It is also ideal to check if intervals between feedings are not too short (which can lead to lactose overload and increase colic). A complete and uninterrupted feeding that allows the baby to receive the posterior milk and consequently less lactose, improves the symptoms of colic.


Some authors report that crying fits occur most commonly from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm and suggest that at that moment the baby be comforted by an adult other than the mother, as when the mother holds the baby, he or she will likely want to feed due to instinct and the smell of the milk. Additionally, the feeling that she can not comfort the baby creates insecurity in the mother, and therefore another person is better suited at this time for the baby to calm down more quickly.


Another suggestion is to use a rhythmic and continuous sound such as the sound of a low hair dryer or washing machine. Such rhythmic sounds mimic the sound of blood flow in the arteries, which the baby heard when it was in the womb. The baby can also be wrapped up as if it were a "package" while listening to that sound.


Massaging the baby's belly also helps relieve colic, as well as exercises with the baby's legs.


Exercise with baby's legs: Bend the baby's knees so that the thighs lightly press against the belly. Then extend and resume.