All About Colic: Tips, Tricks, and Treatments

All babies cry.  But colicky babies cry with an intensity and stamina that can leave a parent exhausted and frantic – and also feeling incredibly guilty. 

So let’s take a look at colic – what it is, as well as helpful ways to help control it.

How Do You Know if Your Baby is Colicky?

Pediatricians usually make the diagnosis if a baby cries for more than three hours in a day, over three days a week, for more than three weeks. (In other words, if it’s easier to count the hours when baby isn’t crying, that’s colic.) The fussiness can begin around the same time each day, usually in the late afternoon or evening, and may get progressively worse toward the end of the day.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone – around 25% of babies fit this description!

Colic Is Normal

No need to snort in disbelief. The fact is that a period of colic is a normal part of infant development – though thankfully, not all children go through it. Generally, the symptoms start around 2-3 weeks of age, peak at 6-8 weeks and begin to resolve themselves around age 3-4 months.

Colic doesn’t reflect on your abilities as a parent. And it doesn’t mean that there’s something disastrously wrong with your baby! It’s a part of development – and there is an end.

It’s Not a Digestive Disorder!

You may think that colic is some sort of digestive disorder and that your baby is crying in pain or that she has gas or an upset stomach.  But there’s no conclusive proof linking colic to any specific digestive problem

That being said, when babies cry a lot, they tend to swallow air in the process. This can lead to a build-up of air in the tummy and pain.  Simethicone drops can work well to break up the gas bubbles in your baby’s tummy and ease the discomfort – but this won’t necessarily stop the crying!

Breast-feeding mothers can also try eliminating wheat, chocolate, caffeinated products, or other gas-inducing foods from their diet to see if there are any positive effects. While this will help to identify food sensitivities though, it won’t necessarily treat the source of colic.

So What Does Work?

While every baby is different, there are some tricks to calm your baby through this colicky phase. These include:

Holding Your Baby – a Lot. One of the best ways to soothe your baby is to hold and carry him during the day – a lot.  Many parents find that using a baby carrier so that their baby has a lot of close contact with them throughout the day reduces crying – especially at night. As a matter of fact, all this extra attention can reduce crying by around 30-40% – a significant improvement. 

White Noise.  Noise from a clothes dryer, a fan – even vacuum cleaners! – can have a calming effect.  The thought is that these noises mimic the sounds your baby heard in the womb. Other parents have found that playing CDs with the sound of rain, running water, or ocean waves can calm a baby down as well.

Infant Swings or Strollers. The gentle rocking motion that comes with an infant swing or a stroller can also be very soothing. Make sure to check out our stroller series to find the best gear that’ll suit your needs.

Going for a Drive.  A car drive marries gentle motion with the white noise created by the purr of an engine. So when your baby gets fussy, head out to the family station wagon and go for a spin – it might just do the trick when it comes to calming your baby down.

Warm Bath.  Like adults, babies find warm water very soothing and a bath can help calm them down.  Swaddling them afterwards will further the effect and let them sleep well – which means you can sleep better, too!

Just in Case

If your baby doesn’t seem to be comforted by anything, talk to your doctor about your concerns.  Your baby’s distress might not be a case of colic at all. There might be underlying and undiagnosed medical problems that need to be addressed.  A visit to the doctor and possible testing is a good way to cover all your bases.

Take Care of Yourself

Even though colic is normal, it can leave a parents frazzled – and even a bit on the edge.  Don’t try to deal with your colicky baby by yourself. Get help from a spouse, other family members, or even child care professionals, and take breaks once you have left your baby in good hands.  This is especially important if you feel like you are losing emotional control or are tempted to shake your baby to make him be quiet. Take the time off and leave your baby in good hands for your own sanity. Here are some ideas for making time for yourself when you have a newborn (colicky or not!).

What tricks have you found that help soothe a colicky baby? Share them with us in the comments below!

Tags : baby   newborns   health   colic   

No Comments.