The Dreaded C Word: Colic


Colic is a word that strikes fear in the heart of the strongest, toughest man, reducing him to a helpless nervous wreck.

Even a casual visitor will never forget a tiny baby’s heart-wrenching wails of pain. Colic kicks in when your placid, sleeping newborn morphs into a tyrannical monster at about two to three weeks old. There was no real solution 18-33 years ago when I mothered. I drank fennel tea by the gallons, bought gripe water, walked and rocked my babies for hours every day. All the doctors would ever say was,

“Make sure you’ve burped her well and be careful that she latches on properly so she will not gulp any air”.

My daughter shocked me when she announced that what my generation called colic was often acid reflux and treatable with infant ranitidine or zantac. After Declan projectile vomited, Mary took her new son to the doctor, who then sent her baby for an ultra-sound. The ultra-sound actually captured the stomach value opening and acid rushing into this tiny baby’s stomach and up his oesophagus because he was laying down. This condition is very common and now easy to treat.

Mary asked me research on-line. The reason “colicky” babies always want to be held is that it keeps the acid from rising up and burning their throats. Acid also makes burps extra painful, burns their vocal cords, makes them wheeze, catch more colds, croup, coughs. For decades upon decades doctors have treated adults and no one stopped to consider that babies might have the same condition Luckily it stops usually between 6-12 months old.

This new information shocked this mother of nine because I spent years walking babies who were in distress. All that suffering was treatable. At least we are finally becoming more sensitive to baby’s real needs

Now, I could usually tell what my babies need by their bodily movements, facial expressions and by the intensity, sharpness, or lower tones of their cries. However, I learned that there are four different cries a new-born makes. A cry starting with

  • Neh (I’m hungry) –
  • Owh (I’m sleepy) –
  • Heh (I’m experiencing discomfort) –
  • Eairh (I have lower gas)
  • Eh (I need to be burped) –

All I can say is wow, little people are intelligent.

Society must teach all mothers how to become Baby Whisperers. Sometimes I think that horse whisperers learn more skills than new mothers. Don’t you think that Maternity Wards should at least hand out pamphlets with some of these survival tips on them?


4 thoughts on “The Dreaded C Word: Colic

  1. My oldest daughter had “acid reflux” and that was almost 40 years ago. So we are not quite as “old fashioned” as some may think:>) I put her on goats milk and it worked like a charm. Until then, there was no comforting her, and the formula gushed out of her mouth. She tolereated the goats milk just fine. Good post and made me think about the younger years. God Bless, SR


  2. Did you not know that the parenting fairy, (second cousin to the tooth fairy on the mother’s side) visits mums on the day their child is born? One big wave of the wand and mums know everything. No need for baby whisperers. 🙂


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