You’ve tried everything from changing diapers to feeding and rocking them in your arms, but they just won’t stop crying. You, like many other parents, are likely dealing with colic. When they’re suffering from colic, the baby won’t calm, and parents are left frustrated trying to sooth them. A “colic baby” — as some people call them — can keep crying even when there’s no reasonable explanation as to why they are doing it. Colic affects about 20 to 25 percent of all babies. However, there is a group of people that believe this condition affects all babies with the only difference being that some infants portray a lesser level of crying.

Colic is a normal occurrence and has no long-term effects on the general health of the baby. The short-term impact of this condition is that the baby may look like he or she is in pain and that can cause agony to the parents. It’s also true that parents may have to deal with issues of sleep deprivation due to the frequent outbursts of crying.

Do You Have Colic, Baby?

While it is perfectly natural for babies to cry, a baby with colic is one that tends to cry more than usual. This crying takes place even when you change diapers, feed the baby, and make sure they are completely comfortable. Colicky baby crying is behavioral rather than being a result of something physical.

Because many new parents may not know why exactly their baby is crying, it’s difficult for them to determine if they’re dealing with colic or other issues. To help determine if your baby has colic, take note of how long their crying episodes seem to last. Most experts agree that colicky babies tend to cry for three hours a day, for at least three days, and within three consecutive weeks.

To eliminate other possible causes of your baby crying, keep their diapers clean, make sure they aren’t hungry and the room is a comfortable temperature. If you suspect that the baby may be experiencing pain, including abdominal issues or headaches, be sure to seek professional assistance. Once all these possibilities are stricken off from the list of possible causes of your baby crying, you can be reasonably sure that you are dealing with colic.

What Causes Colic? Baby Care 101

The medical community doesn’t have a definite answer to what causes colic. Some individuals claim that the state results from allergies while others note that it may be a result of improper handling of the baby in the first few days after birth. There is a group of people who believe colic is merely a baby trying to adjust to the environment outside the womb. While another group also claims that the colic results from neurological immaturity.

Regardless of the exact cause of this condition, you probably want something to relieve your baby of the pain and suffering that she seems to be experiencing. It is with that in mind that you should be aware of some of the possible triggers of the condition. Allergic reactions, skin irritation, lack of proper ventilation in the room, lactose intolerance and poor baby carrying skills are some of the things that may be triggering colic.

What are Some Symptoms of Colic?

One of the most common symptoms associated with colic is intense crying. That happens regardless of how much you try to calm your baby. It is worth pointing out that observant parents can detect a pattern in the way their babies cry on a daily basis. In such situations, you may be able to tell what time the baby starts crying and when they are likely to stop. Some babies cry uncontrollably during the night while others may cry in the evening. Regardless of the time of crying, the pattern remains the same on a daily basis.

The next symptom you may note with colic? Baby keeps crying even when you carry them or try to talk to them soothingly. This situation often gets first-time parents worried but should not lead to panic. Other things that you may notice include arching of the back, clenching of the fists, recoiling when touched, and other unusual physical or posture changes. While these symptoms may make you feel helpless and desperate, don’t despair. With the right tips in mind, you can provide relief to your baby.

How Do You Get an Official Diagnosis?

To ascertain that your little one has colic, Baby will require a visit to the doctor. The doctor will then carry out a physical examination of the baby to rule out any physical causes of crying. Some of the things that the doctor seeks to rule out include esophageal reflux, infections or allergic reactions. The doctor will then require you to give an account of your experience since the baby started displaying symptoms of colic.

Some of the things you may have to explain include how often the baby cries and the duration of each crying episode. Your baby’s diet, feeding patterns, time and duration of sleep, and bowel movement patterns are also among the things your doctor will seek to know. After taking into account all these details, the doctor will be able to determine if your baby suffers from colic or if there is something else that is making your baby fussy.

What is the Prognosis/Outlook for Colic?

The symptoms associated with colic can be frightening for first-time parents. Not only does the baby’s crying cause extreme discomfort, but parents may also end up losing sleep and spending most of their time worrying about whether their baby will get well or not. The truth is that colic is relatively common and affects both boys and girls. Colic tends to go away on its own after three to four months.

Myths and Precautions Regarding Colic

Because of the mystery that surrounds colic, a lot of people tend to latch onto myths and half-truths when it comes to dealing with the condition. To care for your baby in the right way, you must be armed with the facts.

Myth: Medications can treat colic

Some parents end up buying drugs such as diphenhydramine or other antihistamines which can work as impromptu sleep aids. This is incredibly dangerous and can lead to death. The truth is that there is no known medication for this condition. Certain types of colic may have symptoms that warrant the use of medication, but these are a small percentage. Only give medication to your baby if your doctor approves of it.

Myth: Parental anxiety

Many people believe their colicky baby can sense or smell anxiety. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Your baby has no way of knowing if you are a first-time parent or that you are feeling anxious. Of course, the first few days of parenting may be challenging, and you are bound to make mistakes, but that should not be cause for alarm. As you continue handling your baby, you will get to know the best positions to hold them and what to avoid.

Myth: Unhappiness in the future

Some people believe that a colicky baby is likely to be unhappy in the future, but this is another one of the myths you should avoid. Colic is not a defining trait of any child. It is simply normal in some babies. It’s true that when it comes to colic, Baby is going to be unhappy but after three to four months, your child will start having a completely different personality. Your baby may end up becoming spunky, crabby, or sensitive, just like any other child.

Precaution: Do not shake your baby! Walk away.

After a long day at work you come back home feeling exhausted only to be disturbed by the incessant cries of your baby, and regardless of how much you try to soothe them, they won’t stop crying. When they’re suffering from colic, baby won’t be happy and neither will mommy or daddy. That can quickly become irritating and may throw you into confusion and desperation. No matter how much your baby keeps crying you must never shake them or hold them in a nasty manner.

Shaking your baby may cause brain damage or lead to death. If you feel like the crying is driving you crazy, give yourself a break. Lay your crying baby gently in a safe place, their crib, bassinet, or playpen and walk away. Close the door for long enough to catch your breath, regroup, and try again.

Reach out to family or friends, call them and ask them to come over and sit with you. It’s hard, and frustration with an infant can lead to tragedy, so ask for help or simply walk away and find your calm.

Precaution: Be sure to visit a doctor

Before you can declare the presence of colic, Baby and you need to pay a visit to a qualified pediatrician. It is only such a professional that can give an accurate diagnosis on the condition that seems to be affecting the child.

Top 10 Tips for Colic and Baby Care

There are several techniques you can use to soothe the colic, the baby, and your frazzled nerves. The key is to try as many of these tips as you can to determine the ones that work best for your little one. These are simple tips that anyone can try. However, they are not medical solutions to your baby’s condition.

1. Hold your baby upright after feeding

One of the things that may be triggering colic in your baby is gastroesophageal reflux disease which has symptoms such as belching, nausea, burning in the chest, discomfort in the upper abdomen and a dry cough. When your baby has this condition, he or she is probably going to have milk or formula coming back up through the esophagus. To avoid putting your baby through the unpleasant symptoms noted, be sure to hold her upright immediately after feeding. Such positioning prevents milk or formula from coming back up. Avoid making the baby lie on her back or reclining on a car seat as such positions may worsen symptoms.

2. Use infant cereal to thicken baby milk

By adding some infant cereal to breast milk or baby formula, you effectively prevent reflux from occurring after your baby’s feeding time. A tablespoon of rice cereal to one ounce of formula or pumped breast milk should be enough to do the trick. You may have to increase the size of the nipple hole on your baby’s bottle to allow for the thick liquid to pass through. Talking to your pediatrician before implementing this solution is highly advisable as you are likely to get personalized advice for your baby.

3. Use repetitive motion

Some babies start crying when they are put down or left in a resting position. To prevent such babies from prolonged episodes of crying, keep them in constant motion. Taking the baby for a ride in your car is one of the ways to sustain repetitive motion. Rocking them in an infant swing or walking around the compound with the baby in your arms can also work.

4. Carry the baby gently

If your baby seems to be crying whenever you put them in the crib or on the car seat, the solution may lay in carrying them. When you notice that they are about to cry, go ahead and hold them close. Talk to the baby or sing a soothing song. Hearing your voice and feeling your gentle touch may have a calming effect. First-time parents should seek advice on the best way to hold a baby. That is because holding the baby in an uncomfortable position may only worsen the situation.

5. Understand tummy time

There are times when laying your baby across your stomach or lap can be of help. Make sure that the baby is positioned in such a way that the tummy is flat on the surface. While at this position gently rub the back as that may have a soothing effect and can facilitate better passing of gas. Tummy time has other benefits including the development of stronger neck and shoulder muscles. The baby should be in this position while awake and under supervision.

6. Try switching formula

If your infant is bottle fed, the milk-based formula may be triggering their colic tendencies. That could be because of a protein intolerance or allergy that causes discomfort. By switching to an elemental formula, a specialized formula for babies with possible milk allergiesor a product that has a different protein source, you make it easier for the little one to digest her food. It may take two to three days before you notice a change in the behavior of your baby. If after that period the baby is still colicky, the trigger may not be related to baby formula allergy or intolerance.

7. Let the baby suckle

Whenever your baby starts showing signs of moodiness or crying, let them suckle. A lot of babies relax when they are breastfeeding which is why this should be one of the most critical solutions you keep in mind. Not only does suckling allow babies to get the nutrition they need, but it also strengthens the bond shared between a mother and child. Additionally, sucking on something has a way of keeping the baby occupied. That is why you will often find babies sucking on their fingers or anything that they get a hold of.

8. Get fresh air or a warm bath

Sometimes the room can get stuffy which is why you should make it a point to walk outside, your porch or yard, even the park and let the baby get some fresh air. Alternatively, you can warm some water and bathe the baby. Just after that, do some gentle massaging of the baby’s limbs to stretch muscles and bones. These simple tricks can be all it takes to calm down your baby.

9. Take a break from the colic, and the baby

Taking care of a healthy baby is one of the hardest things for any mother. However, taking care of a colicky baby can be quite frustrating. You may try all the tips noted above and still have them crying like the world is ending. The desperation and hopelessness you feel can take a toll on you. That is why you should take a break just to put yourself back together again. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your baby for long periods of time. Instead, let someone else handle the baby while you go out for a walk or fresh air. Taking 10 minutes or even an hour away from your baby while they are safe with someone else, allows your mind to relax and ensures that you have the right mental state to handle the little one.

The most important thing here is not to feel guilty. You are a parent, yes, but you are still a human being, and your mental well being still means something. Getting away from colic, the baby, and the screaming even for a few minutes will be necessary now and then. If you begin feeling angry, then it is time to walk away, even if it means leaving your baby alone in a crib for 5 minutes.

10. Seek professional help

Assuming that you have a colicky baby is not wise. Sometimes there is an even more serious underlying problem, and that is why you must first pay a visit to a qualified pediatrician. The professional has the skills and knowledge necessary to ascertain what may be causing your baby to cry. Once you get the right diagnosis, ask your doctor for advice on how to handle the baby during colic episodes. Depending on the things that may be triggering colic in your baby, the doctor will provide instructions on the do’s and don’ts of handling the little one.

The Take Away on Colic, Baby Care, and Getting Through It

There is no doubt that taking care of a colicky baby can be one of the toughest things you ever have to endure as a new mother. However, with the right information in mind, you can get through the three to four months that are problematic. Always remember to keep a calm attitude and realize that your baby is just going through a phase that will soon be over. The tips above are not medical advice but can help anyone with a colicky baby better cope with the situation. For accurate diagnosis of your baby’s condition pay a visit to your nearest health facility for consultations.


Featured Image: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 By Fox2mike, via Flickr

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