Baby Colic what Parents can do to Handle the Stress of Colic

Most professional caregivers have cared for a baby with colic and recognize the stress that comes with caring for a baby who cries so much. Colic is not a physical disorder or disease. Doctors define “colic” as continued crying for three or more hours per day. While the normal baby cries an average of just over two hours per day during his first four weeks, it is usually due to hunger, wet/soiled diapers, or other visible causes. This baby can be calmed when his needs are met. A colicky baby cannot be calmed, and sometimes the crying can wear the caregiver down to the point that she feels like joining him in his crying.

It is unclear as to what the exact cause of colic is. The “old-timers” used to say that colic was the result of gas. But it is hard to tell what comes first, the gas or the colic, as screaming for hours on end causes the baby to swallow air, thus causing gas. Anti-gas drops have been helpful in some infants, but have had no effect on others. Another possibility that doctors often mention to frazzled caregivers is GERD, gastro esophageal reflux disease. There is also the school of thought that says colic is due to a large part on the baby’s temperament. The good news is that colic is something babies will grow out of and it usually goes away by three months of age.

There is one other possibility that should be considered. Some babies who are considered “colicky” are actually suffering from a milk-protein allergy. This allergy is due to the immune system mistakenly identifying a single milk protein as a threat. The immune system then attacks that protein within the child’s body. There is a solution to this problem. Several formulas have been produced that break down this protein into many small pieces. Because the protein is in many small pieces, the immune system does not identify it as a threat. If this is the cause for colic, switching from breast milk or a regular formula to this specialized formula can work wonders. These formulas are very pricey, however, certainly worth the cost.

There is no one proven relief for the colicky baby, however there are some things you can do to sooth your little charge. Make sure baby is not hungry, has a dry diaper, and is comfortable temperature wise. Do not be afraid of spoiling your baby during this time in his life! It is impossible. This is the time frame babies learn to trust their parents/caregivers and strong bonds are formed.

While it is hard to believe, even loving caregivers have been perpetrators in abusing infants with colic. Even the most patient of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, babysitters, nannies, and daycare workers have been found guilty of shaking a baby to death. These caregivers go off the deep end after dealing with a crying baby for hours and hours on end. When a caregiver feels she is in danger of reaching her limit with a crying baby, she should call on someone to come help her and give her a break! If she has a colicky baby, it is a good idea to have regularly scheduled breaks where someone comes to relieve her so that she can get out of the house, or simply go somewhere quiet to sleep.

Failure to have a support system in place can leave the caregiver frustrated and lonely. She may want to try the suggestions listed below. They can be helpful in calming a colicky baby. It is important to remember that a baby can pick up on the care giver’s feelings. If the baby senses that the caregiver is frustrated and tense, he will cry even more!

Suggestions that may help:

*Contact the baby’s doctor to rule out medical problems.
*Walk with baby, or rock in the rocking chair.
*Try burping baby more often during his feedings to prevent gas.
*Rub his back.
*Try putting baby in swing or vibrating chair (this has been very effective with the children I have cared for with colic).
*Strap baby in an infant seat in the car and take him for a ride, or try pushing him in a stroller around the house.
*Put baby in his crib and turn on the vacuum cleaner or fan. White noise is soothing to colicky babies.
*Gripewater drops are effective with some babies and are homeopathic.
*Offer a clean finger for the baby to suck on.
*Check baby’s clothing – Too hot? Cold? Tight?
*Cuddle baby while singing softly to him.
*Give baby a bath.
*Gently massage baby’s tummy or back.
*Hold baby while placing weight on one foot, then another.
*Hold baby so there is slight pressure on his tummy, so that any excess gas may be expelled.
*Give baby fresh air by stepping outdoors.
*Let baby look in a mirror.
*Try removing all scented air fresheners, candles, plug-ins, and other strong chemical based products from the environment. Baby may be sensitive to them.
*Contact the doctor to see if a milk protein allergy could be to blame. A simple test can rule out this allergy.
*Put baby in a baby sling so that you can walk around doing things but that baby is still held close to you. This will free up your hands, but also enable you to keep baby snuggled. Often the moving around will sooth baby into a peaceful sleep.

If the suggestions above do not work, then try these suggestions to help cope with the frustration you may be feeling:

*Put baby in his crib, making sure he is safe, close the door. Check on him every five minutes or so. If you can, step outside for a few minutes to get away from the crying.
*Call a friend, family member, or neighbor to come over and give you a break (of course, if you are a nanny, you need the parent’s permission to do this).
*Take ten deep breaths, then take ten more.
*Do something nice for yourself, such as painting your nails, playing your favorite music, making yourself some hot tea or coffee, take a shower, or read a magazine or book.
*Scrub a floor or counter – cleaning can make some people feel better.
*Write in a journal.
*Talk about your feelings with someone you can trust.