Theory #1: Do Tiny Tummy Troubles Cause Colic? Woodmam

For thousands of years, many parents have had a “gut feeling” that their infants were crying from bad stomach pain. The three tummy-twisting problems that became the prime suspects of causing colic were intestinal “gas”; pooping problems; and “overactive” intestines.

Burping with the Best of Them

Babies often gulp down air during their feedings. Here are tips to help your baby swallow less air and to burp up what does get in:

1. Don’t lay your baby flat during a feeding. (Imagine how hard it would be for you to drink lying down, without swallowing a lot of air.)

2. If your baby is a noisy eater, stop and burp him frequently during the meal.

3. Before burping your baby, sit him in your right hand, with your left hand cupped under his chin. Then bounce him up and down a few times. This gets the bubbles to float to the top of the stomach for easy burping. (Don’t worry, it won’t make him spit up.)

4. The best burping position: Sit down with your baby on your lap, with his chin resting comfortably in your cupped hand. (I never burp babies over my shoulder, because their spit-up goes right down my back.) Next, lean him forward so he’s doubled over a little. Give his back ten to twenty firm thumps. Babies’ stomachs are like glasses of soda, with little “bubblettes” stuck to the sides. So thump your baby like a drum to jiggle these free.

Let’s examine each individually and then I will explain why none of these nuisances is the real cause of colic.

Do Babies Cry from Intestinal “Gas” …

or Is That Just a Lot of Hot Air?

Most infants have gas—often. I’m sure you’ve witnessed virtuoso performances of burping, tooting, and grunting several times a day. Many parents are convinced this intestinal grumbling causes their baby’s cries.

Parents who think colic is a gas problem have two powerful allies: grandmas and doctors. For generations, grandmothers have advised new moms to treat their baby’s colic by avoiding gassy foods, burping them well, and feeding them sips of tummy-soothing teas. For decades, doctors have suggested that mothers alter their diet or their child’s formula, or give burping drops (simethicone) to reduce a baby’s intestinal gas.

However, with all due respect to grandmothers and doctors, fussy newborns have no more gas in their intestines than calm babies. In 1954, Dr. Ronald Illingworth, England’s preeminent pediatrician, compared the stomach X rays of normal babies with colicky babies and found no difference in the amount of gas the calm and cranky babies had at their peaks of crying. In addition, repeated scientific experiments have shown that simethicone burping drops (Mylicon and Phazyme) are no more helpful for crying babies than plain water. It turns out that the gas in your baby’s intestine comes mostly from digested food, not from swallowed air.

Pooping Problems: Can Constipation Trigger Colicky Crying?

Some parents worry that constipation is causing their baby’s colic. Babies struggling to poop can look like they’re in a wrestling match. However, constipation really means hard poop, and only a few, fussy, formula-fed babies suffer from that. Most infants who groan and twist usually pass soft or even runny stools.

If grunting babies aren’t constipated, why are they straining so hard?

1. To poop, an infant has to simultaneously tighten his stomach and relax his anus. This can be hard for a young baby to do. Many accidentally clench both at the same time and try to force their poop through a closed anus.

2. They’re lying flat on their backs. Just think of the trouble you’d have trying to poop in that position!
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