Colic vs. Gas

As a new parent, when your baby starts to cry (seemingly for no reason), the tendency is to jump to diagnose colic.  We did it ourselves when Olivia was two weeks old because all of a sudden, she started crying more.  We started to accept the fact that our daughter was colicky until I started doing a bit more research and realized that wasn’t the case.  Here are my main takeaways:

  • First of all, newborns start crying more around Week 2 because they are slowly starting to sense the world around them and feel over-stimulated.  So if all of a sudden your calm newborn starts wailing more, know that this could be the reason.
  • Second, don’t confuse colic with gas or reflux.  Gas and reflux are extremely painful at this age because a newborn’s digestive system is still immature up until she is 3-4 months old.
  • Finally, the true definition/rule-of-thumb of colic is “3+3+3”: unexplained crying for 3+ hours day for at least 3 days a week for 3 or more weeks.  Seems totally random, I know.  The bottom line is, a colicky baby is crying A LOT and can’t be consoled by anything.

Based on my research (and LOTS of trial end error!), I’ve come up with some tips for relieving gas and reflux, since this is where we landed with Olivia.

Burping: I was making the mistake of not adequately burping Olivia – you really have to work at it and switch burping positions.  And apparently a “missed burp” doesn’t dissolve; it just travels down the digestive tract and into the intestines!! When I can’t get a burp out using the regular over-the-shoulder, I’ll do the sitting and then the stomach-lying positions.  This site has a really helpful graphic of all three. I think this also really comes down to the bottle you use.  You really have to experiment until you find the right one for your baby.

Happi Tummi Waistband

Gas: I also noticed that Olivia is quite the little grunter when she has gas, so I will typically place her on her back and do “baby bicycles” with her legs, rub her tummy in a clockwise motion, and gently bend her legs and then slowly push them towards her stomach.  In most cases, this is all she needs to get the gas or poo out.  I found this video to be super-helpful.  Also, we love the Happi Tummi waistband.  It’s a super-soft band with a microwaveable herb pouch.  The scent of the herbs (lavender, chamomile, mint, etc.) and the warmth of the pouch are really supposed to help.  All I know is, when I put it on Olivia, she starts smiling!  Not sure if it’s the scent (which I really enjoy) or the warmth but she falls asleep shortly afterwards.  Some people swear by Gripe Water.  Our doctor told us it can be hit or miss, and I noticed the Little Tummys brand includes parabens, so I decided to hold off.  Of course there are other brands and apparently you can even make your own but I’ll save the alchemy for another day 🙂  Others also swear by the Windi (a disposable catheter that you can insert in baby’s tush to relieve gas/help her poo), but I read that your baby may become dependent on it to poop, so I’ve stayed away from that one as well.

Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny

Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny

Reflux: All babies spit up, but reflux comes in varying degrees of seriousness.  There’s also silent reflux, where the baby’s spit up only travels as far as the esophagus and then back down, causing her pain but not leaving any evidence.  I’ve come to the conclusion that Olivia has a mild case of silent reflux.  How?  Sometimes she’ll let out this short pained cry, writhe around a few times and then it will literally look like she just tasted something terrible.  She is gaining weight as she should, and it doesn’t seem too frequent, so we’ll check on that with her doctor at our 2 month visit. The best reflux solution I’ve come across is to hold Olivia upright for at least 30 minutes after she eats (as tempting as it may be to put her down if she’s fallen asleep and you’re tired).  You can also slant her bassinet at an angle so she isn’t laying flat while she sleeps.  Also, I notice she naps WAY better in her Fisher-Price Snugabunny swing after she eats vs. her bassinet.  That swing has been a life-saver!!

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