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Does your baby really have colic? Here's how you can tell

 A crying and upset newborn baby. [Getty Images]

Is your newborn baby crying for more than three hours a day collectively or for more than three days a week? Is your baby inconsolable and crying with an arched back or clenched fists? The problem could be colic.

According to Dr Peninah Musyoka, a Pediatrician at Machakos Children’s Clinic, a mother should check her baby to identify why the baby is crying because perhaps the baby is unwell or has pain.

“Undress the baby and check from head to toe, check for fever, any injury or whatever other problem and if all conditions have been checked -- the diaper has been changed, the temperature well controlled, but still the baby is crying, then it could be colic,” Dr Musyoka says. 

It is also advisable to differentiate a normal cry from an abnormal one because babies communicate through crying when they are not comfortable.

A normal cry does not last more than two hours a day collectively. In addition, the baby is consolable, unlike a baby who has colic.

Dr Musyoka advises that before rushing to your favourite pharmacist to get some medicine for colic, consider changing your diet to control colic in your newborn child.

She says studies have shown that although the real cause of colic in newborns is not quite definitive, it is believed that it is a digestion problem and that the baby may not be digesting the milk properly.

Some babies have also shown sensitivity to certain foods or food allergies with most of the culprits being dairy products such as cow milk and spicy foods, especially those that have pepper and garlic, eggs, nuts, wheat and its products and some fruits, especially the citrus family.

Some foods that the mother eats may cause gas and constipation in the baby through breast milk and may then cause colic in the baby.

There are various other ways to try to help a baby with colic, such as swaddling to make the baby comfortable, driving the baby around in a stroller, or giving probiotics that have been shown to help the baby to digest better, giving relief to the baby.

“A mother can also help the baby pass gas by doing slight tummy presses or massages, but avoid some medications found over the counter as some may be harmful to the baby,” Dr Musyoki says. 

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