Common Causes of Colic
If you have an especially fussy baby, you’ve probably spent a lot of time trying to figure out what causes colic. We think if we can find the root cause of the problem, we can solve it and make our babies feel better. Generations of mamas know that when it comes to colic, it’s never that easy. Despite all the advances in modern medicine, doctors still can’t pinpoint the exact causes of colic. Here are pediatricians’ best guesses for what causes colic in babies:
6 Possible Reasons Why Your Baby Has Colic
Immature Digestive and Nervous Systems
One of the most commonly cited causes of colic is an immature digestive system. Signs of this include a distended stomach, an appearance of “bearing down,” and excessive gassiness. Immature digestive systems may manifest as constipation, indigestion, slow GI transit, and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
The nervous system, too, may contribute to colic––babies can be particularly sensitive to light and sounds, or lack the ability to self-soothe when upset or over-stimulated.
Food Intolerances or Allergies
In some cases, colic relief may be as simple as switching formula or adjusting your diet if you’re breastfeeding. When a nursing mama ingests dairy products, caffeine, alliums, and cruciferous vegetables, the proteins and allergens in these foods can be transmitted to the baby through her milk. Your child’s pediatrician can diagnose colic causes like intolerances and allergies and help you adjust your diet accordingly.
Exciting new research is revealing the importance of our gut biome, or the good bacteria that populates our digestive system. This research extends to babies too––some physicians suspect that an imbalance in gut flora may cause colic in some infants. When babies in a study were treated with colony-forming probiotic supplements, a decrease in symptoms was observed. Other studies have had mixed results.
Sometimes the root cause of colic is under- or over-feeding a baby. Over-feeding is more common with formula feeding, while under-feeding may occur when a nursing mama has low supply, but doesn’t realize it. Another issue related to feeding is gas––when a baby isn’t being burped enough or has difficulty burping, the gas can cause discomfort.
One interesting theory is that colicky babies are experiencing migraines; they’re crying because they’re in pain. This may seem far-fetched, but research shows that babies with colic often go on to have migraines as children, and parents who have migraines are more likely to have infants with colic.
You can be overjoyed to bring your new baby home, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a stressful experience. A newborn turns your life upside down, especially with middle-of-the-night feedings, siblings vying for attention, and figuring out new routines. Babies may pick up on this tension, causing them to become colicky.
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