Today, I think we use colic to describe a baby who is fussy with no obvious reason. It’s become a catch all phrase for a baby who just isn’t content.
At one point it was considered a digestive problem. A baby with colic was thought to have a chronically upset tummy.
It’s possible that many babies with tongue, lip ties, and/or reflux were described as collicy. Our understanding of infants has been expanded dramatically, so now we have specific terms for these conditions.
What’s better than having terms, is having solutions.
Now we know if a baby has reflex, we should feed them slowly, burp often, and have them upright for about 30 minutes after eating.
We know that if a baby has a tongue tie, that can make other parts of their body feel tension. This tightness is uncomfortable for babies, and leads to- you guessed it, crying. We now know that releasing mouth ties can have tremendous benefits for babies and their parents.
So why do we still use a term like ‘colic’? And better yet, should we use this term?
Catch all descriptions are easy. Having a name for a condition is awesome because it can give us peace of mind. When we don’t know the answer to life’s mysteries, like a baby who is always upset, it can feel good to have a name for what’s happening. So colic stays around. When your baby is fussy you have the answer “she’s just colicy.”
But this peace of mind comes at a cost. The cost is finding the root of the problem, and having a solution.
Most babies don’t cry for no reason. We just don’t know the reason why. Instead of becoming complacent with a colicy baby, we can dig deeper for the solution.
Sometimes we chose the least invasive treatments hoping they provide relief.
We suggest starting with chiropractic work, infant massage, or looking into experts like newborn care specialists, postpartum doulas, and lactation consultants. These experts have noninvasive strategies that might treat your baby without ever having a name for what was wrong.
So if you have a baby who doesn’t stop crying, you can call it colic. If that gives you peace, awesome. But I also encourage you to get to the root of their upset, so you can have the happy healthy baby you deserve.