25% of babies who suffer from colic are in fact reacting to dairy. says Megan Sheppard.
Q. My daughter’s six-week-old son is having trouble with wind. He cries often, especially after a feed, and is what we used to call a colicky baby.
I’m not sure if gripe water is used these days, but I know that it worked a treat for my lot. Is this worth trying, or is there something else you would recommend?
A. Colic is very common in the first few months, even up to six months of age, and if it is your daughter’s first baby she will no doubt be at her wits end trying to work out a solution
Research suggests that around 25% of babies who suffer from colic are in fact reacting to dairy.
This is not just for babies who are on a dairy-based formula, but mothers who are breastfeeding will need to cut out dairy completely for at least three weeks to determine whether or not this is the case.
Fortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean a lifelong issue with dairy for the baby, it is a case of waiting and supporting optimal digestive function in the meantime.
Ideally, reintroduce dairy when your grandson is over 12 months and keep an eye (or ear!) out for any signs of digestive distress.
Holding and bouncing a colicky baby was often recommended in the past to help soothe the emotional distress, however, this may in fact aggravate the digestive symptoms.
Placing baby tummy down, and tucking his knees up whilst gently rubbing his back in a circular motion can help.
You can also do this with baby on his back, and move the legs up and down with the knees bent, and some people find that holding baby over a lap or with tummy supported over their forearm also works.
The herbs contained in gripe water are great for digestive upset and trapped wind or bloating, however, I am cautious about giving alcohol and sucrose (present in most preparations) to little ones.
If your daughter is breastfeeding I suggest she drinks an infusion of fennel seeds (caraway, dill, anise all work well too) perhaps with other calming herbs such as spearmint, peppermint, lemon verbena or lemon balm, taking two to four cups daily.
To make the infusion, simply use a teaspoon of herb per cup of boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes. This is perfectly fine to take hot or cold. A warm bath can also ease intestinal spasms in babies, and help soothe frayed nerves.
Common food culprits other than dairy that can pass through the breastmilk and trigger colic in sensitive babies — chocolate, coffee, onions, garlic, brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts), beans and legumes, and spicy foods.
Q. My almost 13-year-old son has gets nosebleeds easily, whether it be from picking his nose, or a mild injury or the trampoline. His father was the same when he was young and had the vessel cauterised.
Is this the only solution, or is there something less final that we can try first?
A. First of all, any nosebleed that is causing concern (still going after 20 minutes) should be taken straight to the doctor or emergency room, particularly if it follows a bump to the head.
There are supplements that should help to reduce nosebleeds before you seriously consider the cauterisation route.
Vitamin K is well known as helping the blood to clot effectively when it needs to, and so it is worth giving your son 50ug (micrograms) of vitamin K1 (not to be confused with K2) daily.
Solgar make 100ug tablets, available from health stores) so divide these in half for your son to get the correct dosage.
The other important nutrients are the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and selenium along with bioflavonoids.
These will help to strengthen the blood vessels.
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The information contained in this column is not a subsitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor.
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