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Infant Gas (Colic)
Infant gas - How to identify and treat this unpleasant phenomenon?
During the first months of your infant’s life, one of the most common obstacles you will face will be infant gas, known as colic in professional terms. This is a known phenomenon that plagues roughly 35% of infants and is thought to be particularly unpleasant, distressing and painful. How can you identify infant gas - and how can you treat it properly?
How can you know if your newborn is suffering from infant gas?
To most accurately “diagnose” infant gas, you must pay close attention to your infant’s behavior. Do they bend their knees towards their belly while crying? Do they ball their hands up into tiny little fists? Does the screaming and crying intensify during the evening and nighttime hours? If you answered yes, your child likely suffers from infant gas, as those are its most common symptoms.
The infant gas phenomenon is not classified by medical literature as an illness and is not dangerous for the infant to experience, though it is quite uncomfortable. In most cases, the symptoms will go away on their own by your infant’s four-month birthday.
Infant gas - Why does it occur?
Many believe that there is connection between infant gas and nursing. Conversely,
many are certain that infants who do not nurse, but rather are nourished by bottles of formula, suffer even more from infant gas, due to the ingredients found in formula, or the use of bottles. However, none of this has been scientifically proven. Many nursing and bottle-fed infants suffer from gas alike.
The reason infants suffer from gas is likely that their digestive system is not mature upon birth, and the digestive process is foreign to them. While still in the womb, infants are nourished via the umbilical cord. When they are born, they must cope with all sorts of foreign experiences, including eating, which can cause digestive sensitivities.
How to relieve infant gas
Your infant deserves the best. There are a number of methods designed to relieve infant gas and enable your little one (and you) to enjoy calmer days and nights:
- Holding your child in the “leopard on the tree” position: Hold your infant so that their belly in placed against your forearm (the part between your elbow and wrist). This will enable you to place pressure on the stomach, which is likely to relieve pain.
- Holding your infant while in motion: Motion tends to help infants with nearly every complaint, including with painful gas. Your movements (walking, light rocking, light jumping in place) accelerate the digestive system and encourage the release of gas.
- Massage: Just like “leopard on a tree” position, gentle massaging of the infant’s belly and gently pressing the infant’s knees towards the belly place pressure on the digestive system, releasing gas and relieving pain.
- A warm bath: The warmth calms the infant, envelops them in a feeling of security and pleasantness and helps release gas.
And what about your general conduct, as parents? Infant gas is a challenging stage of infant development. It is extremely important that your remain calm and patients, and that you surround your infant with love. Your sense of calmness, stability and quiet will help your infant remain calm and feel secure, which, in turn, can help them cope with the pain.
Medication to help treat infant gas
Alongside the myriad of activities you, as parents, can engage in to relieve your infant’s gas, you can also find over-the-counter medications designed to treat infant gas pain. There are natural solutions, probiotic solutions (approved for use on infants over six months of age), nutritional supplements and medications thought to be effective in infant gas treatment.
It is important to differentiate between nutritional supplements and medications - while the former are not under strict Israeli supervision and have not been clinically proven as effective, medications have passed various clinical studies and tests and are approved for use. It is recommended to take this into consideration when mulling a purchase.
It is also important to pay attention to Health Ministry recommendations to avoid administering products that contain sugar and alcohol to little ones.
Additional literature: Giving nutritional supplements, drinks and herbal infusions to infants, on the Health Ministry’s website.
And remember, warmth, love and patience can conquer it all
Infant gas is a common phenomenon and does not cause real damage to your little one, though they may suffer from tremendous pain as a result. As such, it is important to remember: this is a temporary phase, one that will pass on its own (often by the age of four months). You must remain patient, warm and loving - and implement the series of advice provided above, in order for this painful period to pass quickly and with minimum discomfort.
Other articles on this subject:
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Your infant helplessly cries every evening, leaving you exhausted, you’ve already ran to the doctor, surfed the net and listened to all the grandmas. Your conclusion: your newborn is suffering from gas. And you’re probably right. While opinions about nursing moms’ diets and infant gas (or colic, in professional terms) remain under heated debate and myths are always to be taken with a grain of salt (yes, you can eat hummus and nurse), sometimes, changing one aspect of your daily diet can make a world of a difference. In any case, it can’t hurt to try.
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Are you allowed to drink coffee? Should you avoid dairy products? Can you continue eating legumes? Many mothers are unsure of what they should - and shouldn’t eat while nursing, especially when their infants suffer from gas. It is important to note that the link between maternal nutrition and infant gas has not been scientifically proven, though mothers who have attempted dietary modification do report experiencing success. Worth a try, isn’t it?