Colic vs cry it out

Infant Colic is persistent crying of a baby

The “Rule of Threes” is used to define colic: A colicky baby has incessant, inconsolable crying for at least 3 hours per day on at least 3 days per week, for more than 3 weeks.

It usually appears in the late afternoon/early evening, for no apparent reason. First off all, I’d like to say that with Dunstan Baby Language and some dietary changes, I believe it can be remedied if not avoided.

But the reason I mention colic is because of the infuriating double standards given in advice to parents.

If your baby cries for no apparent reason (colic) in the day they say: hold your baby, rock your baby, swaddle, try different positions, sing to your baby, walk with your baby, go for a drive and the list goes on.

However, if your baby dares to cry at night, when you want to get some shut-eye: put him in his cot far away from you and close the door.

 

Research has shown that even when ‘crying it out’ ‘works’ the stress levels in babies are the same as if they were crying.

There is a better way

I am amazed at how, despite a growing sum of research showing the harmful effects of letting a baby ‘cry it out’ (whatever ‘it’ may be), the media still favours the ‘experts’ that promote this kind of neglect (yes, that is my opinion). Cry it out (CIO) is the advice many parents get to make sure their baby gives them a full night’s sleep.

Research has shown that even when CIO ‘works’ the stress levels in babies are the same as if they were crying, they just stop showing outward signs of this distress because they have learned it is no use. Is this what we want to teach our kids? When mummy and daddy want to sleep, you can cry all you like in a dark room, behind bars, with no way of getting out, but nobody is coming to help you.

Let’s say your baby was born with an immense vocabulary at his/her dispense and instead of going from whimpering, to crying, to screaming to silence in the night.

A baby is put in his cot asleep. Half an hour later he wakes. He looks around him in the dark, but there’s nobody there. ‘Mummy’ he says, ‘are you there?’ No answer. ‘Mummy, I am tired, but I woke up and can’t get back to sleep by myself yet, can you come and help me?’ No answer. ‘Mummy? Daddy? Anyone? Has everyone left? I am awake. Help me please.’ No answer. ‘HELP, I AM ALL ALONE, HAVE I BEEN ABANDONED? I AM TOO SMALL TO SURVIVE IN THIS WORLD ALONE. HELP!’ No answer. ‘I am so tired, my throat hurts from screaming, my eyes hurt from crying, my head is banging. There is nobody here for me.’ His eyes close over, exhausted he falls back asleep. Behind the closed door to his room are his parents. ‘You see, it was only a few minutes this time’, they say.

If this was what parents could hear, would they leave their baby to ‘self soothe’. If there was only a 1% chance that this is what your baby was thinking, would you stay behind that closed door?

How a mother’s diet affects infant colic in newborns

We know that proteins from mom’s diet can pass into breast milk, and some babies seem to be allergic or intolerant of these proteins. That’s where the role of mom’s diet comes in.

Cow’s milk appears to be the most common culprit when it comes to food allergies in infants. It has been estimated to occur in about 0.5-1.0% of exclusively breastfed infants. Studies on the relationship between cow’s milk allergy and colic are mixed, however. In one study, 66 mothers of exclusively breastfed colicky infants eliminated cow’s milk from their diets, and “colic disappearance” was noted in more than half of the infants.

When the moms later drank cow’s milk again as a test, colic symptoms returned in 2 out of 3 of the babies. Based on this study, cow’s milk allergy or intolerance would seem to be an important cause of colic.

What about other foods?

In 272 exclusively breastfed infants in the U.S. Mothers were asked to recall their babies’ behavior and their own dietary habits over the past week. They discovered that mothers with colicky babies consumed more cow’s milk, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and chocolate

By the way, the foods NOT associated with infant colic symptoms were garlic, green peppers, orange juice, brussel sprouts, dried beans, eggs, carrots, beef, and beer. 

Another study of 47 Australian mothers and their colicky babies in 2005 tested a low-allergen elimination diet. Moms in the low allergen group cut out dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish.

The control moms were instructed to eat all of these foods and were specifically provided with a serving of peanuts, chocolate, and a cow+soy milk drink every day. After 7 days on the low allergen diet, babies cried about 90 minutes per day less than the control babies. 74% of the low-allergen babies showed significant improvement in their colic symptoms. In other words, eliminating common allergens from mom’s diet appeared to really help a significant fraction of colicky babies.

Mothers of babies with infant colic are more likely to suffer depression

When babies cry for hours on end, parents become frustrated, exhausted, and may start to wonder what they are doing wrong. It helps to know that infant colic won’t last forever (most babies improve when they are 3-4 months old) and that there is often nothing that can be done.

However, I think that anything that may help baby – and parents – feel better is worth a shot. If your baby has colic, the research shows that trying an elimination diet may help. Neither are likely to be a quick fix for all babies, but both are worth trying.

Using the baby language to help your colicky baby

Parents who learn the baby language report much less stress in the household. This is because they are quickly able to identify the underlying need behind the cries of their newborn – whether colicky or not. Often, learning the language will enable a parent to discover what the most common problem their baby is experiencing. Perhaps he need to be burped regularly and because the parent doesn’t realise, he feels discomfort in the chest or stomach for a prolonged period.

If you’d like to learn the language, we have a comprehensive course available that you can stream online to any device at any time. It has all the information you need to become an expert baby listener, as well as quizzes and exercises to help tune your ear.

Learn the secret language of your baby. Enrol today for $45.

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