WHAT IS COLIC AND CONSTIPATION?
Colic is a common feeding problem experienced by 20% of babies.
The cause of colic is not fully understood but possible causes may be that babies have trapped wind and/or they may have sensitivities to milk as their digestive system is very small and still developing.
Colic has no long term effect on a baby's health and babies with colic develop normally and just as healthy as other babies.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF COLIC?
Prolonged, intense, unsoothable crying, often accompanied by:
• Rumbling tummy
• Legs drawn up over the chest (indicating abdominal pain)
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MANAGING COLIC
• Try to calm your baby using white noise (e.g. hairdryer, vacuum)
• Give your baby a warm bath
• If breastfeeding – Talk to your Public Health Nurse, Practice Nurse or GP for advice about your diet. Foods like chocolate, caffeine (tea/coffee) or spicy food can contribute to colic
POSITIONING For breastfed and bottlefed babies:
• If breastfeeding, get additional support from a trained healthcare professional on alternative feeding positions to position your baby in a more upright position
• If bottlefeeding, try to position your baby in an upright position
WINDING For breastfed and bottlefed babies:
Winding is an important part of feeding your baby, as they need help to bring up trapped wind
• Make sure your baby is winded before, during, and after feeds
• The most common position for winding is to place your baby over your shoulder while supporting their bottom with an arm. Use the other arm to rub or pat their back
• Another position, usually recommended by healthcare professionals, is to sit your baby on your lap in an upright position. Support your baby's chin with one hand and rub or gently pat your baby's back with the other
It is estimated that CONSTIPATION affects 15% of babies.
The exact cause of constipation is not always clear. Constipation may be caused by a number of things including a change of diet, dehydration, incorrect feed preparation, allergy, fever and medicines.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION?
Small pellet-like stools in the nappy
The consistency of a baby's stool rather than the frequency of passing a stool, is an important sign in determining constipation in an baby
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MANAGING CONSTIPATION
Keep a stool diary to track patterns and improvements
• Gently move your baby’s legs in cycling motion
• Give your baby a warm bath to relax their bowel
• Gently massage your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction between feeds and not directly after a feed
• If bottlefeeding check that you are preparing the feed correctly as per the instructions on the pack.
• Offer small amounts of cooled, previously boiled water once or twice everyday.
•Fruit, vegetables and cereals can be offered to older babies (not babies less than 4 months or 17 weeks) who are being weaned to help relieve symptoms
MANAGEMENT OPTIONS UNDER THE ADVICE OF YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
For breastfed babies:
• In relation to colic, speak to you healthcare professional for more information and advice on different breastfeeding positions
For bottlefed babies:
• Your healthcare professional may advise you to try a specialist formula for colic and constipation your baby doesn't need to be suffering from both conditions to use these formulas as they are multifunctional.
• If so, please note that some formulas recommend using a variable flow teat or a single hole teat with medium or fast flow – all products will give guidance on this or ask your healthcare professional for further information
• Some formulas will cause stools to be softer, looser and greener in colour – this is normal and nothing to worry about
• If your healthcare professional suggests a change of formula, be patient as it can take up to two weeks to see improvements - this is known as the settling period
• If you are considering using a specialist milk for the dietary management of colic and constipation, speak to your healthcare professional first for more information
MONITOR YOUR BABY
Keep an eye on your baby’s symptoms and contact your healthcare professional if symptoms change or any new signs appear. Your healthcare professional will be able to provide you with the best support.
Important Notice: Breastfeeding is best. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.