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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Your Baby, Colic and Sleep: Sounds Like a Recipe for Disaster

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Apr 8, 2019 4:00:00 PM

As new or repeat parents, you already are taking a lot on with a new life: feeding, sleeping, pooping, and napping are the essentials. But a lot of times, parents believe if they are unable to achieve perfection they have failed their children.

It is important to remember that no parent is perfect and every newborn has different needs.

colic

Speaking from experience, my first child was easy-breezy. She was the “perfect” newborn if there ever was one. And by perfect I mean sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, traveling with ease in the car, and napping like a champ. When we discussed baby number two, our expectations went straight to Ava. She was an easy toddler entering Pre-K.

Unfortunately, baby number two became the case study for "no-two-children-are-alike". From day one in the hospital, the nurses couldn’t help settle Jackson down and he wanted to eat all day everyday.

He was very gassy, sounded congested all the time, and was very wiggly especially around dinnertime.

Around 5 weeks, we were noticing the crying never could be stopped from 6 - 10 p.m. It was constant, loud, consistent and daily. We even purchased headphones for Ava so she could have some peace and quiet.

Colic was the diagnose at 5 weeks and it affects 1 out of 5 newborns. And that was the week where I still vividly remember an all-nighter on my own with Jackson with our first visit to see the grandparents. It was hours of scream crying, hiccups, tight fists, and additional crying from mommy.

Though colic does not have a cure, it is important to recognize the symptoms:

  • Intense crying that is unlike the normal hunger or wet diaper cries. An expression of pain in the newborn’s face is more obvious no matter what the parent tries.
  • Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished.
  • Predictable timing, with episodes often occurring in the evening.
  • Facial discoloring, such as reddening of the face or paler skin around the mouth.
  • Bodily tension, such as pulled up or stiffened legs, stiffened arms, clenched fists, arched back, or tense abdomen.

Colic doesn’t have a prescribed newborn: it can be a formula-fed or breastfed baby, a boy or girl, and preterm or full-term baby. Without a clear diagnosis, a few theories on causes for colic include:

  • An immature digestive system. Digesting food is a big task for a baby's brand new gastrointestinal system. As a result, food may pass through too quickly and not break down completely, resulting in pain from gas in the intestines.
  • Infant acid reflux. Research has found that infant GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is sometimes a colic trigger often as the result of an underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that keeps stomach acid from flowing back up into the throat and mouth, which can irritate the esophagus. Symptoms include frequent spitting up, poor eating and irritability during and after feedings.
  • Food allergies or sensitivity. Some experts believe that colic is the result of an allergy to milk protein (or lactose intolerance) in formula-fed babies. More rarely, colic may be a reaction to specific foods in Mom’s diet in breastfed babies. Either way, these allergies or sensitivity can cause tummy pain that may set off colicky behavior.

The hard part of colic is since there is no diagnosis there are no cures. Here are a few tips to get through colic with your baby that I wish we would have known earlier:

  • Know the signs! We just thought he was gassy or fussy. After talking to our pediatrician, the signs were clearer.
  • Purchase the Happi Tummi! This is a waistband that heats up with an herbal remedy. After about 10 days, Jackson was incomplete without it. You simply microwave the wrap and velcro around baby’s tummy. The heat helps relieve the pressure.
  • Stick to a routine! After his nightly bath, Jackson loved soft music with him laying next to us on the couch holding our hand. He did not want to be cuddled but wanted to know we were around. Find what works for you.
  • A colicky baby can be harder to feed and for our home, it became impossible. We tried different nipples, bottles, and formulas to help ease his pain. Every baby is different so find what is best for baby. Just because you cannot breast feed doesn’t mean you are failing baby.
  • Colic Calm is an all natural colic medicine. Once Jackson knew what it was, he calmed down instantly after we would give him the medicine.
  • Play some soft music like Praise Baby, Baby Einstein or Toddler Tunes from U2. With each night, we had a routine in place and the calming music was one way to ensure some calmness.

Our doctor defined colic as a condition in newborns that typically lasts around 5 - 12 weeks. Sure enough, at 12 weeks and two days, the crying stopped.

An important ingredient for parents dealing with colic is seeking help from a doctor. The last thing a new mom needs is postpartum depression or repressed anger towards their newborn.

Talking to your child's pediatrician and your ob is equally important so both mommy and baby are taken care of. It is even possible at a young age they could have the beginnings of a sleep disorder or issues in their nasal passages.

There are many types of sleep disorders that could be keeping your little one from sleep. Getting to the bottom of their troubles can help them get the sleep they need, and you get the sleep you crave.

Contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic where we have trained staff members that are able to help your child get to the root of their sleep troubles.  CEE Pediatric Sleep Study E-book.

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Alaska Sleep Clinic is the only sleep lab in the state with a Pediatric Medical Director, Dr. Harry Yuan.

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Topics: Pediatrics, baby, colic

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