Q: My six week old daughter is so fussy. My friends tell me it sounds like colic, but I’ve tried so many different things to calm her and nothing seems to work. What can I do to help her?
A: Colic is common and can affect up to three out of ten babies. A healthy newborn baby may have periods of crying. For no apparent reason he or she cries as if in pain. The usual methods of comforting do not work very well. He or she does not want to feed and may pull up their knees. Sometimes the baby’s tummy (abdomen) appears to rumble. The cry may sound different and more piercing than normal. He or she may appear to be settling when suddenly another bout of crying occurs. This may go on and off for several hours until he or she settles and falls asleep.
There is no treatment that cures colic. Every parent has their own way of coping and may find different things helpful. Try not to despair. You have to remember that there is nothing that you have done to cause the colic. Also, be aware that colic usually goes away by 3-4 months of age, often much sooner.
Here are a few tips:
- Check for Gas – Burp, burp, burp…If you do suspect that gas is the culprit in your baby’s crying, be diligent about burping after feeds.
- Hunger – Try feeding you baby but avoid overfeeding your baby because this may also make her uncomfortable. Try to wait at least 2 to 2 ½ hours from the beginning of one feeding to the next.
- Diaper – Check the baby’s diaper. Often times, the baby’s urine can irritate their genitals make them uncomfortable. You can also check for a diaper rash if the baby has been pooping a lot. Using Desitin Max can help ease your baby’s discomfort.
- Swaddle – Swaddling makes your baby feel safe and secure just like they felt in the womb. Plus, it hinders the startle reflex that wakes children up.
- Reducing anxiety – Even newborn babies may sense anxiety. This can make things worse. Try to create a relaxed atmosphere. If possible, have a rest and meal before the colic begins (usually in the evening). The more rested and relaxed you are, the better you will be able to cope.
- Soothing – It is natural to try to soothe a crying baby. Holding a baby through the crying episode may help to soothe. However, a colicky baby may simply not be comforted or soothed. At such times it is acceptable to leave a baby to cry for short periods if you are satisfied that he or she is not hungry, too cold, too hot, wet, or unwell. Remember – never shake a baby. If you need a break from the crying, or if you feel at the end of your tether, gently place the baby in his or her cot and leave the room for around 10 minutes. You could then do something which will help you – perhaps have a cup of tea, a snack or phone a friend.
- Breastfeeding Diet – If you breast-feed, there’s some evidence that it may help if you do not have cows’ milk, dairy products, eggs, wheat, nuts and caffeine (which can also be found in some painkillers). Some women find cutting out spices or garlic is also helpful, although there’s little scientific support for this. If there’s no improvement after you’ve made changes for a week, go back to your normal diet.
- Noise – Some people say that white noise helps to soothe colicky babies. White noise is background, nonspecific noise such as that made by vacuum cleaners, washing machines, etc. You can also try singing, playing soothing music, waves on a beach, and/or rainfall noises.
- Rides/Carrying – Crying babies may settle on car journeys. It is possibly the white noise of the car engine and the gentle movements of the car that do the trick. Simply walking with the baby in a sling or baby carrier may help to soothe.
- Comfort- Check to see if the baby’s diaper is on too tight or the baby’s clothes are too snug…especially around the waist.
Tips are courtesy of The Mommy Coach, LLC, an In-Home Lactation & Personalized Consulting Service. For more information visit, themommycoach.com