Dealing with colic is no fun business, and as a mum you mostly feel helpless in witnessing your baby crying inconsolably for hours at a time. Every child is different and will display a variation of symptoms. There is no lab test that could be conducted to aid in diagnosing infant colic. Generally, a GP will diagnose colic in an infant who appears to be otherwise healthy and gaining a steady weight. Official statistics report that Colic is affecting 1 in 5 babies in the U.K. and most outgrow it by the time they reach the age of 4-6 months.
I experienced Colic with my eldest child, now 7 years old. She was officially diagnosed with Colic at 3 weeks old. Our experience wasn’t limited to evening long outbursts of crying as described by some sources. We had the so called “inconsolable” crying throughout the day, regardless of the time. I attempted everything I could to try and “limit” the Colic and soothe baby while she was experiencing it. My remedies included: setting a feeding schedule so her body could expect to receive a feed at a certain time. This helped with limiting the overproduction of stomach acids – resulting in less acid reflux (projectile vomits). My baby was bottle fed (due to medical circumstances not choice), so I made sure that she was properly burped following each feed. The night routine began 2 hours before bed time – first a bath, next a baby massage in a warm room with dimmed light, and finally a bottle feed followed by lots of cuddles and rocking baby to sleep. I also swaddled her until she was 2.5 months old. She slept beautifully at night and would only wake up for a feed, but come morning the long bouts of crying would start all over again. She would draw her legs into her tummy and cry and cry. I was convinced that my baby had trapped wind in her stomach which was making her so uncomfortable. Doctors, nurses and health visitors kept reassuring me that she was perfectly fine and that what she was experiencing was normal in some baby’s and that she would outgrow it. I was told to use Infacol (similar to Colief) in addition to reflux medication for relief. Unfortunately, none of the pharmaceutical remedies worked for us, so I stopped administering them a few weeks after we started.
We simply survived the Colic. Baby was otherwise fit and healthy, and thriving beautifully – 50th Centile for weight and 98th Centile for height. However, when we began to baby wean it seemed apparent that my child lacked an interest in food. She had a poor appetite and not much desire to swallow food. At mealtimes, she would cautiously observe the spoon, open her mouth only slightly and take a tiny amount off the end of the spoon. Our mealtimes turned into an all singing/ dancing show starring me as the entertainer. I conjured up every ounce of energy I had everyday into planning fun, vibrant mealtimes with tasty food that was also aesthetically pleasing (not easy to do in a puree). This trend continued until my daughter was three years old!
I’ll never forget her nursery teachers reaction to the meal I had prepared for lunch when she opened up her lunchbox during “settling in” day at nursery school. I’d basically created a mini scene of a jungle (cuts outs of lettuce, sweet peppers and cucumber) and had three little bears sitting in the middle (ham and cheese sandwiches cut out into bear shapes). Only then did I realise that this wasn’t a norm. My child was slightly more of a fussy eater than the average child and my remedy was slightly more excessive than other parents. I was very persistent with the feeding and determined for her to experience a variety of foods and maintain a balanced diet. So I persevered with the same foods, but experimented with flavours by inventing new dishes and decorating them to her style. Eventually, my comedy meals became less comic, so I’d still include the bear sandwiches but no jungle scene to go with them. Finally, she outgrew the fussy stage and is now happy to eat pretty much whatever she’s given minus black olives!
I was the first mum in my group of friends to get married and have a baby, so the only “mummy” support I had in raising a baby was from my mum and baby guide books. I came to loathe the books as they all seemed to speak of a “generic” type of child that I just didn’t identify with. By the time I fell pregnant with baby number two, my daughter was 6 years old and I was pretty confident about the baby stage and what it may entail. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the prospect of the new baby developing Colic and later on turning into a fussy eater.
I was adamant that the Colic was related to trapped wind and that the baby bottles were the issue. I made sure to breast feed my son from the second he was born. I also insisted on burping post each feed and did the baby massages, bath and bedtime cuddles. Unfortunately, on doctors orders the breastfeeding had to stop and I was faced with the bottles dilemma all over again. So I went out and bought formula and bottles. We started off wonderfully, a few days in we experienced “some form of Colic”. The giveaway sign for me was when he drew his legs in while he cried. I thought there must be another way. I put out a message amongst my friends who were now mothers too for any suggestions on a remedy. One of my friends got back to me with the shortest message ever: Go out and buy some Dr Brown’s bottles NOW. That was literally it, so feeling a little sceptical but also desperate for a solution, I sent the hubby out to buy this brand of bottles. We tried the bottles for two days, and (touch wood) I promise you when I say this: To date (baby is 10 months old), we never experienced that sort of crying again.
I’ve researched these bottles on what differentiates them to other brands. Basically they contain 2 extra components to the standard bottle. The first bit is a rubber circle that has two tunnels inside (image above). This fits directly onto a long plastic funnel looking tube. These then sit inside the bottle and connect to the teat when you place it onto the seal of the bottle. Together, they make a “vent” system that allows for the air that is being suctioned into the baby’s mouth to be vented back into the bottle, allowing for only the liquid and a much smaller amount of air to enter baby’s mouth. As with any form of feeding, you must wind baby properly post feed as there will always be some naturally occurring air bubbles in the milk that you can help baby burp out. My son hasn’t turned out to be a fussy eater the same way his sister was. Granted he favours particular flavours like we all do, but he’s always willing to try out new foods. This does leave me wondering whether poor appetite in children is a result of learned behaviour stemming from their experience with infant feeding? I’d love to hear if any of you experienced Colic and whether it led to a poor appetite or a food aversion.