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What to Do with My Colicky Baby?

Questioner

M (29_female_India)

Reply Date

Nov 21, 2017

Question

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum. My baby is about 17 months now. He has recently started that non-stopping crying and screaming. It mostly happens in the middle of sleep. He cries and cries until he loses his voice, and nothing seems to comfort him. He's been teething for a couple of months and he was doing fine. I checked his temperature and it doesn't look like an ear infection. What could be the cause? I'm so tired and frustrated about not being able to do anything to stop him. Thanks.

Counselor

Answer


colicky baby

In this counseling answer:

“When a child who is otherwise healthy cries for more than 3 hours per day, it is a condition known as colic, which is perfectly normal in newborn and it is self-limiting. The main step, in this case, is to get him examined to exclude organic causes. You mentioned excluding ear infection as he is not feverish, but it is not enough as it can come without fever and it is one of the most common causes for a baby suddenly crying at night, so let a pediatrician or an “Ear-Nose-Throat” doctor examine him with an Otoscope”


As-Salamu ’Alaykum,

Nothing can be heartbreaking to a passionate parent than listening to the non-stop cries of their beloved child. It is sometimes even more frustrating when you do all you can and nothing seems to help, but whether we like it or not, crying is the only way of communication between our children and the surrounding world. It is a gift from Allah, telling us that our children need our help.

It is normal for infants to have colic (up to 25% of all infants). It usually starts few weeks after birth (sometimes few days) and goes away spontaneously by the time the baby is three months old. If it persists with the same severity after that time, we should get the baby examined to exclude health problems. It would have been helpful to know, for example, if:

He still breast feds or takes formula feeds?

What kind of solid food does he eat now (if at all)?

In general:

When a child who is otherwise healthy cries for more than 3 hours per day, it is a condition known as colic, which is perfectly normal in newborn and it is self-limiting. The main step in this case is to get him examined to exclude organic causes. You mentioned excluding ear infection as he is not feverish, but it is not enough as it can come without fever and it is one of the most common causes for a baby suddenly crying at night, so let a pediatrician or an “Ear-Nose-Throat” doctor examine him with an Otoscope (an instrument for examining the interior of the ear).

Also, any respiratory tract infection can cause post nasal discharge (discharge behind the nose that goes down to stomach an intestine) which then can cause colic. So, the first step should always be a thorough examination.

After excluding any underlying cause, here are some key facts about colic:  In a healthy baby, doctors are not sure what causes colic. Milk allergy is sometimes responsible and formula fed babies develop colic more frequently. You might try switching formulas to see if that’s the irritant. Breastfed babies get colic, too, and in these cases changing the mother’s diet may help, especially if she eats spicy food, nuts, strawberries, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or garlic, or drinks caffeine and/or alcohol. To see whether one of these foods is making your baby uncomfortable, avoid them all for a few days. If your baby seems better, reintroduce one food at a time (except alcohol, of course) allowing a few days between re-introductions. If he starts fussing again after you start eating a certain food, you’ve discovered the offending substance.

Gases in his tummy may be a cause especially when it coincides with introducing a new food to his feeding schedule. It also happens in food allergies. You may notice that he swallows much air during eating or even during crying.

Children usually cry to announce their discomfort or seek their parent’s attention when they are hungry, over or under fed, wet, sleepy, too warm/cold, and may need to be pampered.

If these screaming occur in episodes during sleep, it is may be night terrors. Some differences between healthy and non-healthy screamers: Colicky healthy babies have both a good appetite and good growing milestones. Colicky healthy babies like to be cuddled and handled, while a sick child may be annoyed by it.

Vomiting repeatedly is a sign of illness.  Colicky healthy babies have normal stools. Diarrhea, constipation or blood in the stool are signs of illness.

Ways to make life easier for both you and your colicky baby:

  • If you can find an apparent reason, deal with it. Walk with your baby or sit in a rocking chair, trying various positions.
  • Place him across your lap on his belly and rub his back.
  • Put him in a swing. The motion may have a soothing effect.
  • Put your baby in an infant seat in the back of the car and go for a ride. The vibration and movement of the car are often calming.
  • Talk to him or tell a story to divert his attention.
  • Don’t shake him when you are overwhelmed; it may be serious to his brain.
  • Avoid sugar. Nursing mothers should also avoid sugar.

Drug Therapies

No drugs are recommended without a prescription, although Simethicone may be helpful.

Herbs

Boil one cup of water then pour over a teaspoon of anise, fennel, or cumin seeds. Steep covered no longer than 15 minutes, then after cooled enough for him, let him drink (about quarter of a cup) or drunk by the breast-feeding mother (1 cup three to six times per day). They act as gastrointestinal relaxants and help expel gas.

You can also use fresh mint, but only use one or two small leaves and follow the above directions.

Try Chamomile tea. It’s cheap and it works. The doctor said no more than 2 oz. with a little sugar.

Physical Medicine

Warm baths may help relax and soothe colicky infants. Add 3 to 4 drops of essential oil of lavender or lemon balm to enhance the benefit.

Massage

Clockwise abdominal massage may help relieve spasm and expel gas. Apply warmth or heat olive oil for a short time and rub it on the child’s belly in the circular motion. And last but not least, say the du`aa` of pain to him while putting your right hand over his abdomen.

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.




About Mona Salama

Mona Salama is a Medical Nutrition Specialist. Parenting Counselor and hold an Ijaza in Islamic Da`wah. She Graduated from Faculty of Medicine-Cairo University.

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