Colic can be very frustrating, and until you experience a colicky baby, it can be tough to imagine the intensity. The intense crying can be frustrating to the point of breakdown for parents, especially new ones.
Colic is very common in kids and typically starts at around the age of 4 weeks. The most common signs include intense and prolonged crying; the baby clenches his fist or curves their back while crying, and their face becomes red and flushed. While it can feel like your world is crumbling down during the colic days, there is some good news. So, to help you get through that time, the following are some tips and tricks.
Colic is a regular, extended, and intense crying or fussiness in an entirely healthy infant. This condition can be frustrating for parents as the baby’s anguish happens for no specific reason, and to make the matter worse, no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief. Colic episodes mainly occur in the evening when the parents are usually tired. Therefore, you should take the necessary steps to reduce the severity and duration of the colic episode, relieve your own stress and improve your confidence when it comes to the connection you have with your infant.
Know the symptoms
While crying and fussiness can be normal in kids, it can sometimes be caused by colic, especially if the child is in their initial three months. During these months, it is usually challenging to identify what is expected and what is not. But according to the Mayo Clinic, colic can be defined as crying or fussiness that goes for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, and three or more weeks in a month. Also, colic has some features that include:
- Facial discoloration, for instance, pale skins around the mouth or a red face
- Intense fussiness even when the baby is no longer crying
- Bodily tension, for example, baby pulling up or stiffening his legs, clenching his fists, or have a tense abdomen
- Extreme crying is more like a scream or an expression of pain
- Predictable crying
- Crying for no apparent reason
It is important to note that these symptoms can reduce after the infant passes gas or after a bowel movement. In infants, gas is mainly a result of ingested air during extended crying.
In addition, you should be able to differentiate between a colicky baby and one that has high needs. A baby that has high needs is characterized by:
- Extreme negative reaction to commotion or noise
- Less crying
- Irregular sleeping pattern
Keep a colic diary
This is the best way to identify the cause of colic. Tracking the time, length, and trigger of symptoms will significantly help you draw a connection between the cause and signs of colic in your child. The following are some information that you must record in your colic diary:
- What is triggering the episodes, and what stops them?
- What is the duration of the colic episodes?
- How frequently do the symptoms happen?
- Does your child seem bloated?
- What soothing methods seem to work with your child?
- Are you breastfeeding or using formula?
- What is the frequency of the bowel movements? Are they hard or soft, or are they easy to pass?
It is advisable to bring your colic diary to your pediatrician. That will help the doctor determine what they are dealing with.
Coping with colic
Naturally, as a parent, you will do anything in your power to keep your child safe. And if your baby is one of the many babies that experience colic, there are a fair amount of myths out there about surviving it. So, the following are some strategies to help your colicky baby:
For many parents, swaddling can feel like being in repression. However, to a fussy and crying baby, it is like being in the womb. So, ensure that you snug them enough to ensure that they do not wiggle their legs and arms free. Also, make sure that you put them on their back and stop swaddling them the moment they learn to roll over.
Ensure that they nap
A colicky baby below three months should be getting at least four to six naps every day, which is about 10 hours of sleep at night and five during the day. Having your baby sleeping for those hours will increase their possibilities of a restful night and make it easier for them to sleep at night. So, ensure that their sleeping area is free of hazardous material, dark and quiet. And more importantly, make sure that they have a comfortable mattress; if not, you should plan on buying a bassinet mattress.
Get rid of the trapped air
Nobody knows the exact cause of colic; however, it is sometimes thought to be caused by the baby ingesting too much air when feeding or crying for an extended time. This can be a problem regardless of whether you are breastfeeding your baby or giving the formula. Trapped air is pretty common in babies, and it can cause some distress, primarily because the baby’s digestive system has not matured.
Alleviating the trapped air could be all your baby needs to cool down. There are various methods of relieving wind. You can place your baby over your shoulder and rub their back. On the other hand, you can lay the baby on your lap facing down and pat their back. Last but not least is to lay them on their back and move their legs in a circular motion to get rid of the gas.
Turn on white noise
White noise is a random noise with a flat spectra mass. This type of noise can help create a room for relaxation, promoting healthy and high-quality sleep. When it comes to a colicky child, some white noise can really help them feel like they are still in the womb. You can create white noise by turning on the fan, shower, or put their bassinet close to the dishwasher.
In addition, there are some noises that babies can respond to very well. For instance, heartbeat recordings, sounds of the ocean waves, shushing, and gentle humming in their ear.
Use a pacifier
All infants have a strong sucking instinct, and a pacifier can be the perfect remedy. Give your baby a pacifier even if they have just been fed. It is also important to note that some colicky babies can spit a pacifier out instantly while others can find relief from them. In addition, studies have shown that pacifiers can significantly reduce the risks of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),
Play and movement
All babies love movement, so popping your child in a stroller or carrying them around in a sling and going for a car ride or taking a walk can be incredibly calming. Also, consider creating an environment for soft play by getting rid of any stimulation and turning down the lights. Get down to your baby’s level, particularly on a playmat, and interact with them. Besides, babies love laying down and watching you while you talk to them. Also, baby bouncers and rocking chairs can come in handy during this time.
As earlier stated, babies can get colic due to swallowed air when crying or feeding. And while gas bubbles can be very uncomfortable for a child, there are ways to relieve them, including baby massage. Therefore, massaging the baby’s tummy can significantly help relieve this discomfort. Try using plant-based body oils that are lightly scented or unscented with calming essential oils like lavender and chamomile.
Change your diet
The cause of colic is not exact; however, some breastfeeding moms have reported that some foods cause colic in their babies. It is, therefore, possible that certain types of food can affect breast milk and lead to digestive issues or intestinal gas, which might result in a crying episode.
Some foods that have been identified to affect breast milk include caffeine, cow’s milk, peaches, melon, beans, broccoli, garlic, cabbage, onions, apricots, prunes, and other fresh fruits. So, if you think that your baby’s crying has worsened after giving him breast milk, keep a record of everything you eat and how your child reacts to it.
The intense crying and fussiness will test the limits of your sanity. However, it is essential to remind yourself that your child is not in any great danger. Besides, your instinct would say otherwise. Remember that colic is not a disease, it is just a development stage, and it will pass.
Use anti-colic feeding bottles
There are many types of bottles in the market today; therefore, when you go shopping, try as much as you can to pick the anti-colic ones to avoid the episodes from occurring in the first place.
At times, you will feel overwhelmed with no one to understand you. However, you are not alone, as many other mothers are dealing with the same situation. And while it can be frustrating and hard to deal with, it is vital to remember that it is not long-term. Also, colic can be challenging for you, therefore take care of yourself during that difficult time.
Colic will improve with time, typically around sixteen weeks. However, visit your kid’s pediatrician if you are worried about something or if the colic doesn’t seem to improve. Also, it is crucial to be able to tell the difference between a colicky baby and a child that has toddler temper tantrums.