"Most babies who have colic outgrow it by 3 months. The worst cases can last 9 months, at which point parents should be awarded a gold medal"
Critical to parents surviving this time is making sure they get an hour or two break every day from the crying. Leave the baby with a sitter and go out to dinner, Lester says. Colic can drive a wedge into the parent/child relationship at a critical period in bonding, he adds. It's normal to feel angry, guilty and even resentful when you're faced with a screaming baby for hours on end.
NOTHING kills the bliss of being a new mother quite like colic, a condition marked by hours of constant crying that afflicts 25 percent of all babies.
Experts say they routinely see mothers near the end of their ropes, wondering what they did to cause their baby so much misery, and that study after study has shown no known specific causes. Even the Mayo Clinicin Minneapolis says numerous studies have failed to find a cause for all that wailing.
It's not allergies, lactose intolerance, maternal anxiety, spicy food, rich food or the birth order of the child. It's also not mom's fault. Colic can occur equally in boys and girls and the number of children afflicted has remained constant over the years.
Brown University in the US has a colic clinic that families go to for help after exhausting every other option. It offers medical and mental health professionals to the families.
"We treat colic as a family issue," says Barry Lester, director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk. "The thing to remember is this will end."
There are a couple of tricks to figuring out if your baby has colic. The first is what Dr. Richard Shannon, a family practitioner in Columbus, Ga., calls the Rule of Threes:
Meanwhile, the symptoms for colic include:
"Some parents swear by putting the baby in the car seat and going for a drive, or placing the child in a carrier on top of a clothes dryer while it's running to calm the child"
Speaking at the launch of a new outdoor education centre at Kings Park, Dr Roberts said the way children were being raised had changed more rapidly than any time in human history.
"Physical activity has always been about play outdoors, and this is being lost. There are many causes, but in the past two generations, the principal culprit has been electronic screen exposure," he said.
"The impact upon children of this cultural change is seen in their health and psychological development."
Dr Roberts, a consultant paediatrician and former Australian Medical Association WA branch president, said the trend became evident when he asked children to make three "magic wishes" when taking a medical history.
"With alarming regularity, they devote at least two and often all three wishes to electronic screens," he said.
"Likewise there is a television in every second child's bedroom, and then the ubiquitous hand-held device to help them tolerate the perceived boredom of the still, the quiet times."
He said while children from previous generations discovered the natural world as a virtue of childhood, "that is no longer the case, and for our culture, it probably will never be rediscovered."
"And attempts to simply wind the clock back to the childhood experience so many of us enjoyed is simply unattainable," he said.
Dr Roberts said society must find new ways to enable children to engage with the outdoors, and said the new facilities at Kings Park were a "good start."
The education centre includes 20 "living classrooms", such as tree logs for seating under shady trees, a jetty in the Water Corporation Wetland and a concrete-lined fire pit facility for Aboriginal story telling.
A report from the University of WA, commissioned last year for the state government, found electronic screen use, such as watching television or DVDs, and using computers, video games and portable devices, was the most common leisure activity of youth in Australia.
It found a large majority of children and adolescents in Australia exceed the recommended maximum of two hours a day of screen use for leisure, and the reduction in time spent outdoors was resulting in negative outcomes, such as obesity, poor sleep habits, loneliness and depression.
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