Can a feeding bottle cure colic?

coliccrying.jpgYour new baby is a delight; you didn’t believe it was possible to love another person this much. Until 5pm, when he starts to fuss, then cry, then scream the house down. You feed him, change his nappy, rock him, give him cuddles, but nothing makes a difference. Eventually he dozes off, only to wake five minutes later and recommence the cycle. It goes on ALL night! By morning you are exhausted, but you can’t relax – there is a baby to take care of, after all. At least for now he is happy – until 5pm…

If your baby has colic, like the estimated 20% of new-borns worldwide who now show such symptoms, life is tough, mentally and physically. Quite apart from the lack of sleep and the aching back as you rock this angry individual, there is also the emotional distress of seeing your child in pain or discomfort. Health experts seem unable to agree on a cause, with some claiming over-sensitivity to noise or light, and others fostering arguments for a simple case of cranky personality. It has even been suggested that colic may be indicative of migraines, via a study of colicky babies and mothers who suffered migraines in pregnancy.

The most commonly accepted theory is that of simple digestive discomfort as the gut matures, and indeed, time does eventually heal most cases of colic. But one thing is certain: the despair of an exhausted new mum is easy prey to manufacturers of baby products. From hammocks that claim to solve reflux symptoms (often found to be the cause of digestive pain), to the numerous medications promising to ease wind, a desperate mother will dig deep to pay for any product which professes to ease the suffering and get her the sleep she craves!

A straw poll of mothers I know reveals thousands spent on expensive products, chiropractic and cranial osteopathy treatments, and dietary restrictions, all to varying, and sometimes nil effect on the baby. Although they laugh about it in hindsight, many parents confess to the gradual acquisition of every single brand of baby bottle on the market, as they experimented with the different promises offered by each. Teats that claim to resemble breastfeeding, the “anti-colic” bottle which “reduces incidents of colic in 80% of cases,” or vessels with so many components they must work, surely?

When I was developing the Haberman feeder to overcome my daughter’s feeding problems, the emphasis on treating colic was to use a bottle which eliminated the build-up of pressure as the baby sucked. Consequently bottle manufacturers designed air vents in the bottle or teat to allow air to flow in, as the milk was sucked out. Unfortunately, this always leads to the formation of air bubbles in the milk which, if swallowed, can contribute to further problems with wind, and subsequent pain. My goal was to achieve a constant flow of bubble-free liquid as the baby suckled (suckling is a totally different process to sucking, and is the natural action in breastfeeding). You will see in my video of the Haberman feeder exactly how I accomplished this, and the feeding system is now used in hospitals across the country.

Clinging to hope, we buy all the promises, and it’s not until we’ve spent a small fortune that we realise there may well be no solution to colic other than time. Chances are, by the time we’ve finished experimenting the baby has already settled himself and his slightly more mature gut into a calmer pattern!

I’d love to hear your experiences of colic, your tips for getting through it, or anything you found that really helped your baby. Do you swear by probiotics, cranial osteopathy, or soothing music, or is it all just a distraction until colic runs its course? 

Mandy x

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