Approximately 10 to 20% of babies suffer from colic every year. Some experts believe that it is closer to 1 out of 4 infants that will experience colicky symptoms. As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to feel helpless when your baby won’t stop crying. Don’t fear, we’re here to offer you tips to reduce your infant’s symptoms and signs of colic.
What exactly is Colic?
Colic is defined as uncontrollable crying that lasts for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, and for more than three weeks. Although pediatricians do not know exactly what causes colic, most believe it is associated with digestion issues. Most children who suffer from colic will develop colic during the first six weeks of life. Here are some common signs of colic:
- Burping often or passing a lot of gas. This is likely because of swallowing air while crying. It doesn’t cause colic.
- Having a bright red, flushed face
- Having a tight belly
- Curling up their legs toward their belly when crying
- Clenching their fists when crying
Even though colic is defined by uncontrollable and unsoothable crying, there are ways that you can reduce symptoms and signs of colic.
Small Feeds Closer Together
As soon as a baby starts to cry, it’s natural that you want to offer them a bottle or breast to soothe them. However, a colicky baby might not respond to this. Since digestive issues can cause symptoms to worsen, it is best to offer your child small amounts of food more often so that they can have time to digest what they have consumed before eating more. In addition to feeding them more often during the day, ensure that you hold your infant upright for at least 15 minutes after each feed.
Eliminate Dairy and Other Allergens
An intolerance to dairy and other allergens has been found to cause colicky symptoms and other digestive issues in children. If you are breastfeeding, try eliminating common allergens from your diet for a time. The top 8 allergens for infants are dairy, soy, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, and fish. If you are formula feeding, your pediatrician may recommend that you use a dairy-free or soy-based formula. Always speak with your pediatrician before you change your child’s formula.
Sometimes a simple change of location or position can help settle your crying infant. For example, you can try going outside or simply walking into another room. Go for a car ride or put them in the stroller and go for a walk around the block. When you move to a new location, try to find a place with low light and minimal stimulation. Putting on a travel sound machine, soothing music, or a fan can also help soothe your infant.
One of the signs of colic is a bloated belly that is backed up with gas. There are several positions that you can try to relieve pressure on your infant’s belly. All of these potions can help to take pressure off the belly and allow gas to pass freely.
- While sitting down, place your infant face down across your legs and rub their back
- Face them outwards with their back to you front
- Lay them belly-down across your forearm in a reverse cradle hold
Offer a Soothing Techniques
- Pacifier: If they take it, try offering them a pacifier. A pacifier will help your infant with their need to suck and assist with reducing the amount of air they take down while crying.
- Baby wearing: Most infants will find comfort in being held close to your heart. You can provide this soothing technique via baby wearing and still keeping your arms free and available to do other things. Many times infants will even fall asleep while being held close to your heart. There are many different types of baby carriers you can wear, and it may take time to figure out which carrier works best for your family.
Ask for Help
Asking for assistance from your friends and family or even hiring help may be the best thing that you can do. The above suggestions will help in reducing the amount of time that your infant spends crying and may even soothe some of their digestion issues. However, sometimes the only thing you can do is hold your infant while he cries. This is extremely hard, and you need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself just as much as you are taking care of your baby. Ask friends and family to come and hold the baby while you do some self-care or simply take a nap.
Taking care of a colicky baby can be extremely difficult, emotional, and exhausting. Boston Baby Nurse and Nanny can help you with daytime and/or overnight care if you need an extra hand. Our professional trained Newborn Care Experts can assist you and your baby, giving you peace of mind. To learn more about newborn care read more articles in our ‘What If’ series.
About The Author
Nia Davidson has over 10 years of experience working with children in Boston and Virginia, as well as abroad. She studied human development and family studies at the University of Vermont. She is also trained as a birth and postpartum doula, infant/toddler yoga instructor, and works as a Newborn Care Expert with BBN&N. Growing up mostly abroad in Germany and Qatar, she has a unique understanding of different cultures and traditions. She understands that bringing a newborn home is filled with wonder & excitement but also can be a time of stress. Nia’s calm demeanor, loving nature, and multicultural experiences abroad make her uniquely capable of supporting families through the newborn stages. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and practicing yoga.