The exact cause of colic remains unknown. However, experts have (mostly) agreed that it’s not because of genetics or anything which happened during childbirth or pregnancy. And there is certainly no evidence that it’s a reflection of a person’s parenting skills. Nor is it anyone’s fault.
With that said, there are some theories on what might possibly cause colic. Just keep in mind they’re theories not facts.
5 possible causes of colic
Most colicky babies have no obvious medical or physical cause for their crying. In fact, it’s been theorized that crying might actually help a newborn take control of their environment. Almost as if they’re trying to shut out the world by sheer force of will through crying.
Five theories of what might possibly cause of colic:
Immature digestive system
For a brand-new gastrointestinal system, digesting food is a big job. In some cases, food can pass too quickly, which means it won’t break down properly. Poor digestion can result in pain from gas in the intestines.
Food allergies or sensitivity
It has been put forward by some experts that colic is caused by either lactose intolerance or cow’s milk proteins in formula-fed babies. In some rare cases, for breastfed babies, colic can be a reaction to food in the mom’s diet. Essentially, sensitivities or allergies to some foods can cause stomach pain which can set off colicky behavior.
A number of studies have now shown mothers who smoke during or after pregnancy are more likely than non-smoking mothers to have colicky babies. It is also possible that second hand smoke is an issue.
However, it should be made clear that while the link does exist, the actual link between the two (colic and smoking) is unclear. Although, it should probably go without saying that there are other significant health reasons for why it’s a good idea not to let anyone smoke around your baby.
Another theory is that newborns have a built-in mechanism for tuning out sounds and sights around them. This allows for a baby to be able to sleep and eat without being disturbed by their environment. However, around the end of the first month.
This mechanism for tuning this out disappears, which means babies are more sensitive to their surroundings. As all these new stimuli come at babies, it can make them overwhelmed by the end of the day. Which can stress them out, and as a result they cry, and cry, and cry.
The overstimulated sense theory posits that once a baby learns how to filter out some of the stimuli, they are able to avoid a sensory overload. And so, ends the symptoms of colic.
Infant acid reflux
Infant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to some research, has the potential to trigger colic episodes. Often the result of an underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter which can irritate the esophagus, infant GERD symptoms include: poor eating, frequent spitting up, and irritability during and after feedings.
Most babies outgrow GERD by the age of one—and colic has usually gone away long before then.
It is easy enough to rule out some of the possible causes of colic with a visit to your pediatrician or GP.
Other possible causes of colic
Some of the other possible causes of colic include:
- Hernia –such as umbilical or inguinal hernias.
- A source of irritation like nappy rash.
- Nerves—like a neurological immaturity or irritable nervous system.
Of the eight possible causes we’ve mentioned, some have fairly easy remedies. For example, if you suspect overstimulation, then creating a calm environment and reduce the number of visitors and new environments for your baby. Or if the issue is gastrointestinal you can try burping your baby, or apply a little pressure on their tummy.
The causes of colic and what you can do about it
If your baby is colicky, there are a few things you can do. You can swing them smoothly and gently in your arms while making a shushing sound, this helps to give them something to focus their overloaded sense on.
If you’re not sure about the best thing to do for a colicky baby, or if you can’t identify the cause, it is strongly recommended that you visit a pediatrician or GP. This is the safest and surest way to ensure you take care of your colicky baby in a safe and healthy way.
You will hopefully have noticed that all the causes are either medical or a result of your baby adjusting to the world. That is to say, it’s not the parents’ fault that a baby is colicky. And it is important to make sure you take care of yourself while you are taking care of the baby