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The Baby Whisperer: Colic - 25 May

'Colic' is a very common problem that parents say they experience with their newborn baby and it has been around for years.  Many hours have been spent researching what causes this 'thing' called colic yet there are not a lot of solid answers to be found.

When I first started working with newborn babies around the world, I too thought that colic was a real problem and struggled to find the best way to deal with it, especially when I was supposed to be the 'baby expert'. I was pacing up and down with an unsettled baby, sometimes for hours at a time, eating dinner standing up and getting into bed in the wee hours absolutely shattered!

As the number of jobs increased and as the years went by (working 24hrs a day) with newborn babies I gained more and more experience and learnt some interesting facts by 'doing' and by not accepting that there was nothing I could do to solve this common problem.

I started implementing routines, starting focusing on feeding, winding and sleeping throughout the day and learnt that (and have now found a doctor in Australia who agrees, see below) this was the answer! It really was quite simple once I figured it out!

A tired baby who has not fed as well as they could, has not been winded enough, doesn't sleep well and then doesn't cope with the normal amount of unsettledness babies sometimes have.

Stimulation, too, is a huge contributor as babies are often over-stimulated and then when unsettled over-handled, which new parents might misread as being in pain or still hungry.

Parents are tired at the end of the day when colic usually sets in and don't think things through as logically as they would if they were well rested.

I also believe a mother's milk can be an influence.  What you eat when you are breastfeeding affects some babies (even though there is some conflicting advice about this) and often if your baby struggles with digesting what you have eaten or swallowed in the day they will feel it in the afternoon or evening.

The Baby Whisperer's tips:

Think about the following points when you are struggling with an unsettled baby who might have been labelled as suffering from colic.

- Has your baby fed well throughout the day?
- Have they slept well?
- Have you been winding your baby at every feed throughout the day?
- Have you eaten something that might have upset your baby (keeping a food diary will help you know if there is a common link to unsettled times and foods that you have eaten)?
- Does your baby have 'wide eyes'?
- Is there a lot going on in the environment you are in that could be stimulating the baby a little too much for them to cope with?
- Have you talked with your doctor about the possibility that your baby has digestion problems other than 'just' the colic (possibly reflux)?
- Is your milk supply ok at the end of the day?  Have you been having enough food, fluids and rest?
- Use 'colic' drops to help your baby cope with wind and digestion in the early weeks, especially while you are learning to cope with wind and forming a good feeding and sleeping routine.

 If you are unsure if your baby is feeding enough or sleeping enough for their age, ask for advice.

Dr Howard Chilton (Author of 'Baby on Board') from Australia has created a wonderful flow chart which helps to show the vicious cycles, or 'Snow ball effects' as I say, that create his Colic Story.

While he doesn't believe in winding babies like I do, we both agree that Colic is a term used to describe a baby that has suffers from a number of things but which normally stem from over stimulation and lack of sleep.

Where to go for further info
- Sharlene Poole - Little Miracles Postnatal Care Ltd
- - DVD which shows winding techniques and settling techniques
- Baby on Board - Author, Dr Howard Chilton
- Colic Drops