According to conventional wisdom, no one knows what causes colic. Many parents are told simply to bear the agony of watching their newborns cry for hours on end, seemingly in pain, but otherwise healthy. However, Karen Bamber, a paediatrician in Langley, BC, urges parents to continue seeking help until the cause of their baby’s distress is identified.
“I don’t believe that there is an actual diagnosis of colic,” says Bamber, who has been in practice for 16 years. “It’s just people taking a list of symptoms they can’t define and calling it colic.”
Many babies branded as “colicky” have treatable symptoms, she says. Here are a few of the possible causes:
Reflux Painful heartburn can make babies cry. Bamber suggests keeping your baby upright after feedings to let gravity do its job. Medications like Zantac prescribed by a doctor or probiotics in liquid form can also help in severe cases.
Mother’s diet A nursing baby could have gas as a result of foods mom is eating, such as cabbage or beans. Babies can also develop allergies to foods mom’s been eating, through her breastmilk. Try cutting, from your diet, problem foods (such as wheat) or those you eat a lot of, or talk to your baby’s doctor about allergy testing.
Lactose intolerance If you suspect lactose is the culprit and breastfeeding is already well established, try pumping and storing breastmilk while trying your baby on a lactose-free formula to see if the crying stops. If there’s no improvement after a week or two, you can return to breastfeeding.
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