Help! My Baby has Colic
You have been privy to hearing all the horror stories from friends and family about what happens when a baby has colic. This serves only to increase your maternal anxiety about this fleeting stage of infancy, leaving you with fingers crossed that it won't happen to you. And then it does. In fact, one out of every four babies experiences colic. Colic normally begins around 2-3 weeks, peaks at the 2-month mark, and completely disappears by the time your baby is 4 months old.
Colic in an infant is suspected when an otherwise healthy and well-fed infant has serious bouts of irritability and crying that lasts for around 3 days, for more than 3 days per week. Moms often refer to colic as the witching hour because it occurs around the same time every day, normally in the evening. During an episode of colic, your infant is inconsolable, and regardless of what you do, little helps to lessen the crying. A colic cry is not the same as a cry for a bottle and in fact is much worse. Many babies strain, turn red, hold their breath, and flex their muscles wincing in some sort of obvious pain. While many studies have been conducted on infantile colic, the troubling truth is that there are still few explanations. Because the belly becomes distended and the baby will typically draw their legs up, doctors have deduced that it is likely due to an immature digestive system.
For this reason, many pediatricians will have you switching milks and formulas in the hopes that it will help. While this article cannot replace medical advice, you have to also consider that excessive switching of formulas can exasperate the problem. If you make a switch, go with a completely non-allergen formula such as Nutrimigen. If you are breastfeeding and your baby experiences colic, avoid consuming milk products, spicy foods, and other things that may make it worse.
The question on most moms minds is this…what can I do for my baby with colic?
Typical treatments for colic include white noise, running the vacuum cleaner, or otherwise causing a distraction to possibly lessen the crying. Since this crying is normally without stop for such an extended period of time, the lull in crying will not likely last long. You can also try swaddling the baby tightly in a comfortable blanket or carrying them around in an infant carrier, face forward to place some delicate pressure on the belly. Taking a walk, a car ride, or going outside can also help to distract the episode.
Another viable consideration is an infant massage. Since the muscles are often taut during colic, lightly massaging the abdomen, legs, thighs, and bottoms of the feet in circular motions can help to relax the baby. You may want to combine infant massage with white noise in the background. Massaging the temples and pressure points around the neck and jaw can also help reduce pain in the body. Just be gentle, and try to see what your baby prefers.
Many moms place their colicky baby on their belly for a bit. This may help to reduce the pressure in the abdomen as well. Similarly, rocking motions either in a chair or swing can go a long way to relaxing the baby.
Something else that may help is to change your baby's feeding schedule. If the episodes normally begin after a feeding, try to rearrange your baby's schedule to see if it makes a difference. Giving them a nice warm bath (if the umbilical cord has fallen off) may also help to make the baby feel better.
The best advice is to know that this too shall end. When it does, you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. While well meaning moms may annoy you with their solutions to colic, keep your ears open and try them. Every baby reacts a little differently to stimulus, and you never know; your nosy neighbor who knows everything mom – may have just the fix.