How to help a baby with colic

Get practical tips on how to soothe your colicky baby from Elizabeth Pantley, best-selling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution.

When a baby cries, someone is bound to label the distress “colic.” The trouble is that, while not all crying babies have colic, all colicky babies cry. How do you know if it is the correct diagnosis? Here are four factors that point directly to colic:

•    Colic occurs only with newborns, up to about four to five months old.
•    It involves a regular period of inconsolable crying, typically late in the day.
•    The crying bouts last one to three hours or more.
•    The baby is healthy and has a happy disposition at other times of the day.

If you believe your baby has colic, it’s important that you talk with your health-care professional and take your baby in for a checkup to rule out any medical problems. If your baby is given a clean bill of health then you’ll know colic is the culprit.

Researchers are unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe it is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Others theorize that babies’ immature nervous systems and inability to handle the sensory stimulation that surrounds them cause a breakdown by the end of the day. Whatever the cause – and it may be a combination of things – colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face.

Things that may ease crying
While nothing will eliminate colic completely, there are ways to help ease your baby’s tears. Try one idea and watch for signs of improvement, like shorter, or less intense, periods of crying. Any ideas that help you become a calmer parent are helpful, as well. Here are some common ideas that can help ease babies’ crying:

•    Use a baby carrier often during the day, and especially during colicky periods, to ward off crying. Carrying your baby in an upright position can be beneficial.
•    If breastfeeding, feed your baby on demand (cue feeding), for the sake of nutrition as well as comfort. Try avoiding foods that may cause your baby to have gas. The most common offenders are dairy products, caffeine, cabbage, and broccoli.
•    If bottle-feeding, offer more frequent, but smaller, meals. Experiment with different formulas, with your doctor’s approval. Try different types of bottles and nipples that prevent air from entering your baby as he or she drinks.
•    Hold your baby in a more upright position for feeding, and directly afterwards.
•    Experiment with when, how often, and how you burp your baby.
•    Offer your baby meals in a quiet setting, free from loud noises and distractions.
•    If your baby likes a pacifier, offer one when crying starts.
•    Take a stroller walk outside, or, if the weather’s unpleasant, bring your stroller in the house for a walk around.
•    Give your baby a warm bath or bring him or her into the tub with you.
•    Massage your baby’s tummy, or hold your baby on your lap with his or her legs curled up toward his or her belly.
•    Swaddle your baby. Create a nice, snug fit around the upper body, leaving more room in the lower area for natural leg and hip movement.
•    Hold your baby in a rocking chair, or put him or her in a swinging cradle.
•    When possible, keep your baby away from highly stimulating situations during the afternoon and early evening to prevent sensory overload.
•    Do not allow anyone to smoke in the house or near your baby. (Studies link second-hand smoke with an increase in colic symptoms.)
•    Play soothing music like lullabies or white-noise recordings (such as ocean waves) during colicky periods.
•    Ask your doctor about medications available to treat colic and gas.

Tips for coping
As difficult as colic is for a baby, it is just as challenging for the parents. Know that your baby will cry during his or her colicky time, and that, while you can do things to make your baby more comfortable, nothing you do will completely stop the crying. This is not a result of anything you’ve done or not done. Know that babies do not suffer long-term harm from having colic. Six months from now, you won’t see the slightest effects of these crying spells.

Elizabeth Pantley is the author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Content provided by The Mark News.

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