Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Happiest Baby on the Block: Other Colic Remedies

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Chapter 14 is all about other colic remedies you can turn to other than the 5 S's. The first of these is massage.

Karp discusses a 1986 study done by Tiffany Field. Field found that premature babies who were massaged for 15 minutes, three times a day gained 47% more weight than expected and were able to go home almost a full week earlier than babies who weren't massaged. I realize a week doesn't seem like a long time, but if you have ever had a baby in the NICU, you know how long a day is.

In a follow-up study, Field found these massaged babies had a higher IQ at one year than those who weren't massaged. She also found that full-term babies who were massaged for 15 minutes a day cried less, were more alert, were more socially engaged, gained weight faster, and had a lower level of stress hormones (page 195). See this label for more on massage: massage

The second colic remedy is walks outside (page 197). This is pretty self-explanatory.

The third colic remedy is warming your baby up. Here are some ideas of how to warm baby (pages 198-199):

  • Warm bath
  • Warm blanket
  • Warm hat
  • Warm hot-water bottle
  • Warm socks

If you choose to try to warm your baby, be sure to monitor baby so she doesn't get too hot. Watch her ears, fingers, and toes. If they are red and hot and her armpits are sweaty, she is probably too warm (page 199).

Karp goes on to say that 10-15% of colicky babies are colicky because of a tummy trouble (which I found odd considering that he stated tummy troubles were not the cause of colic earlier in his book...). The first is food allergies.

To test if your baby has a food allergy, you need to eliminate food from your diet, or if baby is formula fed, switch baby's formula. It takes 2-4 days of the change before you can expect the crying to get better, so be patient (page 200).

Many moms I know who are testing foods basically eliminate everything they thing could be the culprit. They then wait several days. If things have improved, they might start to slowly introduce foods one by one, waiting several days between each new food. Karp suggests you wait until your child has been less colicky for two weeks before re-introducing. Personally, if I were sure it was what I was eating, I would never reintroduce it just to see :). The most common food babies are allergic to is dairy (page 200). I will say that for sure at least 10% of the babies I know are allergic or have an aversion to dairy.

The second tummy problem that Karp lists as a cause of colic is constipation (page 201). If you suspect this with your baby, consult with your doctor for constipation cures.

The third tummy problem would be because baby isn't getting enough milk. Baby should be calm and relaxed after a feeding. Baby should be peeing enough and gaining weight normally. Babies typically gain 4-7 ounces per week (page 203).

If you are breastfeeding and have a milk supply problem:

  • First, find out the reason for this problem. It could be flat nipples, thyroid, fatigue, poor nutrition, or insufficient breast tissue. It could also be that your baby isn't sucking hard enough or is even tongue-tied (pages 203-204).
  • Second, increase your supply. Eat well, get enough rest (as much as you can :) ), empty your breasts at feedings, you can also pump after a feeding (though Karp recommends pumping before a feeding), get comfortable while nursing/pumping to increase production, use fenugreek or Mother's Milk, and/or talk to your doctor (pages 204-205).
  • Third, you can use an SNS system, which gives your baby supplemental formula. Consult with your doctor and/or lactation consultant first, though (page 205).

The fourth medical cause of colic is baby gets too much milk (page 205). Your baby might not know when to stop or you might have an over active letdown. If you bottlefeed, the nipple might be too soft of have holes that are too big. If your baby struggles, coughs, or pulls away when she starts to nurse, it might be wise to express a couple of ounces before the feeding (page 205). Also, there are many support groups online for moms with over active letdown, so that might be of use to you.

The fifth medical cause of colic is reflux. Karp says keeping a baby upright following a feeding is a "dead-end" treatment (page 206), but I have never heard a parent say that didn't work for their child.

He says laying on the stomach is a position that will help baby's reflux, though for Kaitlyn it made it worse. When I say that, I don't mean that every baby with reflux will not benefit from tummy position; I know many if not most do. But some do not. Karp said also the left side is a good position for a baby with reflux.

Be sure to burp a baby with reflux well and often. Also be sure your baby isn't overeating. If your baby has reflux, consider eliminating dairy from your diet since for some babies, reflux is a sign of a milk allergy (page 207). Your doctor might prescribe medication to help with the reflux. See this label for more on Reflux .

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