Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Colic is weird. When you have a baby you hear a lot about colic. "Does he have colic?" other parents will ask you in the same hushed tones you would ask, "Is it malignant?"

I have photos of him crying, but I find them kind of upsetting so here's a grumpy one. His dad is keeping the dummy in his mouth because when he gets upset he spits it out and then cries because it's not in his mouth any more.

In adults (footnote: I often accidentally say 'humans' when I mean adults, I think that is very telling [second footnote: I hate having footnotes at the end of an article because then you have to keep scrolling up and down, I saw a website the other day that had footnotes on the side and I thought it was rad]) colic is a Real Thing; it means 'severe abdominal pain caused by spasm, obstruction, or distention of any of the hollow viscera, such as the intestines.'

In babies, it means 'your baby sure does cry a lot and it seems to be related to his farts but we can't really find anything wrong and also maybe he stops crying when you drive around in the car which is weird if it's because of pain but have this medical-sounding term anyway.'

Babies are said to have colic if they cry for more than three hours, three days a week, for three weeks. This seems awfully pat to me, but that's OK because it's a made-up disease.

Colic is the worst. There is pretty much nothing you can do about it (although you can find endless suggestions on forums) and the only advice you will get is "He'll grow out of it."

I don't know if Peanut's screaming fits into the definition of colic because I haven't timed his screams and I don't really care, but he seems to be getting more screamy rather than less over time. Babies are supposed to peak in their crying around 6 weeks and then gradually improve until they are perfect angels at 12 weeks. I think Peanut is just screaming more because he's awake more; he's gaining weight and is perfectly healthy. But I do think his guts give him trouble; sometimes he screams like he's being tortured while he lets out a string of farts.

(Another sidenote: when you read about 'crying' babies, you get an image of weeping, mewling infants. This is very misleading.)

Anyway, there has been a very interesting study done in Italy (double blind, control group etc) on the use of probiotics given to colicky babies. I have asked my doctor and child health nurse about probiotics but was told that as I am breastfeeding, this was unnecessary. However, the study at the University of Turin looked at breastfeeding mothers and showed a marked improvement in crying in the babies given probiotics. (The mothers also gave up cow's milk, but since the control group also did this, it's not necessarily significant.) It was a very small group of subjects - 27 plus 21 in the control group - but it's interesting. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne did a larger study last year but the results have not been published yet.

Lactobacillus acidophilus. You have these bugs in you oh noooooo

Anyway, I bought some baby probiotics for Peanut and I'm taking them grown-up probiotics as well (which I suspect are exactly the same as the baby ones except packaged in capsules and cheaper). I won't be able to report on their efficacy with any reliability, because crying is a thing that babies are supposed to just grow out of. But like every parent with a crying baby, I am willing to try pretty much anything. I'll let you know how it goes.