What Causes Infants to become Colicky?

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The Cause and Treatment of Newborn, Infant and Baby Colic

by T.A. Lawrence B.Sc., CIRM, CPMP

What Causes Infants to become Colicky?

While there are many theories about colic there is no single consistent cause that experts all agree upon. However, a lot of evidence suggests that colic may be caused in different ways in different babies. There appear to be several contributing factors that, when occurring in combination, are likely to result in colic pain and discomfort:

  • Newborns have an immature digestive system that has never processed food. The gastrointestinal system is literally just learning to function. Muscles that support digestion have not developed the proper rhythm for moving food efficiently thought the digestive tract. Furthermore, newborns lack the benevolent bacterial flora (probiotics) that develop over time to aid digestion. This explains why almost all infants outgrow colic within the first six months
  • Colic is directly associated with the nervous system, because of the large number of neurons in the digestive tract. In fact it’s sometimes dubbed the ‘second brain’ because of the complex nervous system lining your gut. So some kind of stress in the gut is the obvious thing to look for in cases of baby colic. The colic may be due to shock or tension trapped in the tissues after a difficult or stressful birth process. Craniosacral therapy is a safe and effective treatment for resolving birth trauma and colic associated with it.
  • Certain foods eaten by lactating mothers contain volatile chemicals and allergens that in a small percentage of infants result in colic discomfort and digestive upset. Through lactation, trace elements of cruciferous vegetables and other gas producing foods may be passed via breast milk to baby and cause gas and bloating.
  • Infants often swallow air while feeding or during strenuous crying, which increases gas and bloating, further adding to their discomfort.

Since infants nervous systems are so immature, it is possible for them to get overloaded with unfamiliar sights and sounds. Infants that are easily overloaded often experience more severe colic, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping later in the day or at night. In general, the more activity (errands, visitors, T.V., phones, etc.) in baby’s day, the higher the chances of baby becoming colicky and fussy.

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