How Babies Get Colic? All You Need To Know About Baby Colic

What is baby colic?

During baby life, all they know is to cry. That’s how they communicate. However, if your baby cries suddenly without an apparent reason, this is called as baby colic. It is a pretty common behavior that occurs in 1 out of every 5 babies and unfortunately, all you can do is to wait for the time to pass.

For a proper definition here’s the rule of three that doctors normally use:

  • A baby’s cry that lasts for a straight three hours or more.
  • Happens for three days per week.
  • It stays for a straight three weeks minimum.

For all worried parents, baby colic is not a symptom of a disease. It is just a behavior. It can happen at any time of the day and good luck calming your baby at that point. Hours and hours of these ear-shattering wails with clenched fists and red face can be really frustrating.

Start and end of the baby colic

It is hard to assume the age for colic. Mostly it begins around the age of 2 to 3 weeks with a maximum frequency at 6 weeks and then tappers off. By 3 months almost all the babies are recovered from the colic. Till then a basic knowledge and patience are all you have got!

Signs and symptoms of baby colic

Here are a few signs and symptoms of the baby colic which may help you:

  • Baby cries almost at the same time of the day and it is mostly the latter half of the day.
  • There is apparently no reason for it (e.g. no hunger, temperature, or wetness).
  • Crying is usually accompanied by clenched fists and red face.
  • You can also find the eyes closed or wide open a furrowing of eyebrows.
  • The baby may pass gas or stools.
  • Feeding can also get disturbed by crying and you may found him rejecting the nipple.

What actually causes the baby colic?

To date, baby colic is a mystery. Whether it is based on genetics or some phenomenon during pregnancy or childbirth no one has an answer. Here are a few explanations are given by experts for it:

Over-stimulated senses

During the first week, the baby tunes out most of the external stimuli and stays focus on feeding and sleeping. By the end of the month, the influx of new senses begins which may stress the baby and cause colic. Furthermore, as the baby learns to filter these senses in a couple of months the colic settles as well.

Immature digestion can cause the baby colic

Babies have a hyper-mobile digestive system which can lead to gas production resulting in pain and cry.

Acid reflux can cause the baby colic

An underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter can result in acid reflux which has shown to trigger colic in babies. With the development of the sphincter, GERD improves and so does the colic.

Food allergies

All the baby is having is breast milk and if your baby is allergic to milk, it can cause havoc. Besides other serious conditions, some can only present with colic.

Tobacco

Smoking during pregnancy has also been shown to be a risk factor for colic in the newborns. Although the mechanism is not clear it is better to stay away from the smoker and the smokers.

What can you do for colic?

The baby’s helpless cry is the worst thing for the mother. More than the frustration you want to help your baby. Here are a few things that are proven to calm the baby while in colic:

Respond

Your baby may be trying to communicate with you. So pick him up and cuddle and try to figure out his needs.

Cut the crowd

If you are in a crowd you should try to cut the crowd. A peaceful environment with minimum stimuli can help the baby calm.

Tummy pressure and burping

If you think your baby is struggling due to some tummy issue a loving pressure on the belly or tender burping on the back can relieve the stress. Put the baby face down on your arm and give tender burping on the back.

Anti-gas drops

If the gas in the tummy is causing tummy ache and making your baby restless a few drops of anti-gas can do a miracle. It is seen to calm the baby in no time if gas is the underlying cause.

Probiotics

Promoting a healthy intestinal flora in your baby is never a wrong thing. However, in the case of baby colic, it can do wonders.

Improve eating

If your baby is on breastfeed then what you eat can really affect the baby. Try a healthy diet for you and your baby.

Switch formula

The babies who are allergic to breast milk require special kind of formula milk. If your baby is struggling with such a disease you can consult your doctor and get a good recommendation.

Some tips to cope with the colic

We know that baby colic can be really annoying and there is nothing much you can do at that point either. However, here are a few tips which can make a big difference while coping it:

  • Keep the baby clean, warm, and close to your body.
  • Cuddling and swaying the baby help.
  • A peaceful environment and sometimes peaceful music are better.
  • Pacifiers are important.
  • A walk outside the home can make a difference.
  • If you are too restless try switching duties with someone else.
  • You can always talk about it with others and get all the help you need.

When to call a doctor?

There is no specific pattern or cause to determine the time to call a doctor. However, if you feel it is getting out of your hand you can always get the help of your doctor. Similarly, if your baby is showing some associated symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or growth is not regular a visit is never too much.

But always remember that with patience and affection this will pass!

Having A Breastfeeding Baby Constipated? What Should You Do?

Basic things to learn if you have a breastfeeding baby constipated

Seeing a breastfeeding baby constipated can trigger parents to overthink a lot of stuff. But relax, you need to know some details before panicking. In young infants, the schedule of pooping is quite variable which makes frequency a poor indicator of constipation. So to define constipation in young infants, bowel movements play an important role.

A breastfeeding baby is said to be constipated if he has sluggish bowel movements along with hard pellet-like stools which are very difficult to pass.

Normal poop schedule in young infants

The schedule of pooping in young infants is highly variable. A baby who is exclusively on breastfeeding can go up to 2 weeks without passing stool. The reason is that breast milk is a pure form of nutrition for your baby with minimum waste. This makes pooping frequency low.

On the other hand, babies can even poop up to 6 times after every meal. This schedule is normal as well. However, it is seen that babies having formula feed instead of breast milk develop constipation more frequently.

Symptoms of a breastfeeding baby constipated

As the frequency is a poor indicator of constipation, it is hard to judge when your baby is constipated. Here are a few indicators which can help you assess whether the baby is constipated or not:

  • The baby has a tight, firm, and distended abdomen.
  • He passes hard stools like pellets.
  • Often cries while pooping.
  • Reluctant to feed.
  • You can find bleeding along with hard stools because of the tearing of the anal wall or sphincter.

Reasons for having breastfeeding baby constipated

It is pretty rare to find a breastfeeding baby constipated before 6 months because of the digestive nature of breast milk. Constipation usually occurs after 6 months when formula milk or solid diet is started. Here are some causes of constipation in a breastfeeding baby:

Rice

If your baby’s diet contains rice it can cause constipation as it absorbs water in the gut and makes the stool hard. If this is the case you should switch to barely or oatmeal for your baby.

Cow milk

Cow milk is more notorious for causing constipation as compared to breast milk.

Bananas

This fruit is a serious culprit of constipation and it is supposed to mess with the baby’s electrolytes causing constipation.

Low-fiber diet

Fibers make the stools soft and easy to pass. With fewer fibers in your baby’s diet, there is more chance of him having constipation. Things like white pasta and bread have low fiber content and you should avoid them.

Fewer liquids

Liquids make stool soft. There should be plenty of liquids in your baby’s diet if there is a complaint of constipation.

Stress

Stressful conditions like travel or heat can cause constipation. It normally relieves with rest and a healthy diet.

Sickness

Constipation is often associated with other sicknesses like common cold or infection. In such situations, it is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and other symptoms of the disease.

Medical issues

Multiple medical diseases can cause constipation in young infants. However, you should consult a doctor and should not take them lightly as these can slow the growth of the baby.

Constipation remedies – If you have a breastfeeding baby constipated

Here are a few home remedies which can help with the constipation problem of the breastfed baby:

Increase Fiber

You should add fruits and vegetables to your diet as they contain higher fiber content. If rice is causing constipation, you should switch it for barely and oatmeal.

Increase Hydration

Give plenty of fluids to your baby. It helps with the general condition of the baby and helps with the irritation besides softening the stool.

Tummy massage

Gently rubbing the baby’s abdomen in a circular motion especially around the umbilicus helps with constipation. It stimulates the digestive system and helps with excretion of the stool outside the body.

Exercise

Moving the hands and legs back and forth like riding a bicycle stimulate the digestive tract helps the baby poop. You can also place your baby on his tummy and encourage him to squirm with a toy. The theme is to increase the activity of the baby which in turn activates the digestive system to relieve constipation.

When to seek consultation if having a breastfeeding baby constipated?

So when is the right time to seek consultation? Constipation can be irritating for the baby and you shouldn’t hesitate if your gut says you to seek help from a doctor. However, here are a few indicators which can help you make the decision:

  • Constipation is persisting for a long time and home remedies are not effective.
  • The baby is irritated and distressed.
  • Your baby is not eating.
  • There is a fever or vomiting associated with constipation.
  • Your baby’s belly is tender and distention.

Can the mother’s diet be a reason for having a breastfeeding baby constipated?

Your baby is too little at this time and is completely dependent on you. From nutrition to protection everything depends on you. This makes healthy eating an important factor. If you are taking good care of yourself your baby is going to be healthy.

However, the mother’s diet does not affect constipation. A popular Korean study carried out in 2017 showed that the mother’s diet has no relation to constipation in the breastfeeding baby. Thus, adding fibers or hydration to the mother’s diet will not affect the baby. Breast milk develops from the blood not the digestive system, therefore, what you eat has little to no effect on the baby.

However, your baby gets all the nutrition from breast milk. Thus eating a healthy diet is always necessary for the well being of your baby.

How To Get Your Newborn To Poop? Safe Methods And Techniques

We can imagine how concerning it can be for you as a mother to try to understand your newborn baby’s bowel habits. How to get your newborn to poop is a frustrating question for most moms. Bowel movements vary from baby to baby. So before you psych yourself out over your baby’s pooping habits, it’s important to know what normal poop for infants should look like and how frequently should they be needing a diaper change.

Is my baby really not pooping right or am I worried unnecessarily?

The first two to three diapers that your baby soils right after being born might have a dark greenish to black poop and that’s totally normal. That’s the meconium (poop collected in your baby’s gut while it was growing inside you).

After the baby starts feeding, the color of the stool will get lighter and the consistency will remain soft. Newborns usually have pasty light yellowish poop, that’s almost the consistency of peanut butter.

It is normal for breastfed babies to go a few days, even about a week at times without having any bowel activity. Bottle-fed babies usually poop once during the day if not more.

The question that arises here is: how do you know if your baby is pooping normally or if he/she is constipated if the pooping habits are so variable? The answer to that question is that paying close attention to your baby will be the best indicator of your baby’s health. What I mean by that is to look out for certain signs that may indicate that your baby is in pain or discomfort.

Signs that your baby is in pain due to bowel problems

  • In case your baby strains and cries too much for too long
  • Your baby has a hard belly
  • In case your baby strains a lot while pooping and the poop is hard or comes out like pellets
  • Your baby has a lack of appetite
  • Streaks of blood present in the baby’s stool

If your baby is exhibiting any of the above-mentioned signs, he/she is most likely constipated. The presence of blood in the stool prompts a visit to the pediatrician. It’s important so you can find out the exact cause for it and rule out any serious conditions.

Also read: Why Does My Baby Make Weird Noises During Sleep?

What to do? How to get your newborn to poop?

If you have made the conclusion that your baby is in pain due to constipation and you’re wondering how to get your newborn to poop, here’s a list of some of the things you can do at home that can remedy your baby’s condition:

Hydration

Mothers often tend to think that the breast milk or formula feed is sufficient to keep their babies well hydrated because their total intake is an all-liquid diet. If a baby, however, shows signs of constipation and is soiling his/her diaper with hard stools like pellets, giving the baby 2/3 teaspoons of water after every feed can help replenish hydration and make the stool soft.

Massage

A gentle tummy rub can be relaxing for your baby. It can help relieve constipation because it encourages bowel activity in babies. There are a few ways you can go about this step:

  • Gently walk your fingers around your baby’s belly button in a clockwise fashion.
  • Softly make clockwise circles on your baby’s stomach with a finger. Be mindful to not put too much pressure.
  • Running the flat of your finger from the ribcage of your baby all the way down till a little below the belly button.

It’s preferable to use slightly warm olive oil or coconut oil to make the massage more relaxing for the baby and to buffer any friction against his/her delicate skin.

Getting anxious over how to get your newborn to poop can take a toll on stress levels too. Take some time out to indulge your baby in a massage. It will help you unwind and bond with your baby.

Changing your baby’s diet

Babies who are being given formula milk can at times show a very drastic improvement in their bowel habits and digestion just by changing the brand of formula milk. If switching to another formula hasn’t helped your baby it will not help to keep changing it so it’s not advised to keep switching. It is also better to take your doctor’s advice before changing to a formula that is lactose-free or has less dairy content.

Exercise

Hold your baby’s feet and legs together and press them gently against his/ her belly. Hold this position for about two to three seconds and release the legs slowly. Repeat this two to three times during the day

OR

Gently hold your newborn’s legs and move them in a bicycle motion for a few seconds. Do this two to three times during the day.

A warm bath

Upon asking some new mothers on how to get your newborn to poop I found that none of them realized how a warm bath could do wonders for their baby. A warm bath is not only relaxing for the baby in general. It helps the baby loosen his/her body and releases tension from the abdominal muscles too which may help alleviate your baby’s constipation.

Fruit juice

Giving your baby fresh apple juice starting at about two ounces per day improves constipation. Fruit juice has sugars because of which more liquid moves to the gut and helps soften the stool. It also increases gut motility. It’s important to be cautious while giving it though because too much sugar in the gut could lead to diarrhea and that’s not what you want. Dehydration is dangerous in babies.

Rectal temperature

Bowel movement can be stimulated if you take your baby’s rectal temperature with a clean, disinfected, lubricated thermometer. Be careful not to resort to this method too frequently. That is because it could even worsen your baby’s constipation if he/she gets too used to pooping only when you stimulate the anal opening.

Other solutions on how to get your newborn to poop

  • Enemas
  • Colic drops/ Laxatives
  • Glycerin Suppositories

I’ll advise you not to resort to these methods without the advice of a pediatrician.

When to go see a doctor?

If you feel like none of the above-mentioned methods are improving your baby’s constipation

OR

if he/she

  • Starts to lose weight rapidly
  • Refuses to feed
  • Is vomiting out all the milk after every feed
  • Has streaks of blood in the stool
  • Has been running a fever
  • Is continuously crying and straining
  • Is not very responsive when awake along with any of the above-mentioned symptoms

It is imperative that you go see a Pediatrician and seek expert advice on how to get your newborn to poop if none of the above-mentioned methods seem to help.

Also read: My Baby Doesn’t Sleep Unless Held – Should I Be Worried?