How to Handle Colic

Of all the things a new parent has to cope with, a colicky baby is one of the most distressing. Your baby is uncomfortable, irritable, and inconsolable. You are exhausted, frustrated, and perhaps you even doubt that this condition will ever come to an end. Try to remember that having a baby with colic doesn’t make you a bad parent, and that all babies do eventually grow out of colic.

Before attempting to deal with colic, it is important to understand what colic is. While experts still do not know exactly what causes colic, or how to cure it, the most popular theory is that some babies get colic for a few weeks while their digestive system matures. Babies with colic may have painful and frequent stomachaches due to allergies or intolerances to substances in their formula or breast milk.

Colic might also be caused by a nervous system that is still maturing and has not yet settled, a buildup of gas in the intestinal tract, or even smoking around a baby. There are some theories to suggest that a mother who smokes while pregnant will have a baby more vulnerable to colic. The fact remains that no one really understands colic or what causes it. All the new parent can do, if their baby developes colic, is attempt to cope with some simply yet effective strategies.

1. Feeding Strategies

The way you feed your child can have an effect on how disruptive colic can be, both to you and your baby. Try to keep the baby upright while he or she eats to keep the formula or breast milk moving smoothly into his or her tummy. A child who is hunched over while eating is more likely to trap air in air or her belly. And remember to burp your baby often during feeding to excel any air that is in the belly. You should consider stopping every few minutes to burp the baby, not simply wait until the feeding is over. in this way you might reduce the likelihood of colic.

If you use a bottle, look for one designed to reduce air intake. Try to find one that is curved with an internal vent or liner that helps prevent air bubbles from forming in the liquid. These vents will also keep the nipple from collapsing. If you suspect that colic may be due to an intolerance of breast milk of the formula you’ve chosen, discuss an alternative with your pediatrician.

2. Comforting

Colic makes babies very uncomfortable. Try to soothe your baby by rubbing his or her stomach. Also try putting your baby on his or her stomach and rubbing the back in slow soothing circles. This might help release excess gas. You could also try a warm bath, though this only works for some babies. If all else fails, just hold and maybe rock your baby. He or she will be comforted just by your presence. This may not stop the crying, but it will offer some level of emotional comfort to your baby. In cases where nothing can be done to aleviate the pain of colic, comforting may be the only option.

3. Remedies for Colic

Several natural and over-the-counter remedies available might help a colicky baby. Some parents try weak teas such as fennel, peppermint, dill, anise, or chamomile to treat colic. Most pharmacies carry items such as gripe water or anti-gas drops that may also give your baby some relief, but make sure you’re purchasing products specifically designed for babies. Before you administer any of these things, be sure to discuss the situation with your baby’s doctor. Your pediatrician will know what is safe for your child and what remedies might be effective.

4. Swaddling

When a baby is the womb, he or she feels warm and save. The ancient technique of swaddling can reproduce this feeling and give your baby some measure of comfort. Try swaddling you baby during feeding or immediately before putting him or her down to sleep. Research shows that babies who are swaddled are more likely to sleep soundly, despite being colicky. If your baby responds well to swaddling and it seems to be helping with colic, consider investing in a swaddling bunting bag.

5. Take Care of Yourself

Having a colicky baby can be frustrating and upsetting. Sometimes it helps to sit down and have a good cry. This may not solve the problem, but it might make you feel better. You might also want to take some time for yourself. Ensure that your baby is safe with another competent adult, go where you cannot hear your child crying, and take a few minutes to de-stress. Having even a few minutes to yourself will help lower your own frustration levels.

Remember that it’s not personal and your baby doesn’t hate you. Having a baby with colic doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent or that he or she blames you for the colic; babies do not yet understand the concept of blame. And when you’re comforting your baby, you are helping, even if he or she is still crying. Try holding, rocking, and whispering to calm your child, even if it’s not working. There is something to be said for simply being there for your baby.

Having a colicky baby is enough to drive a sane parent mad. You can’t do it alone, so don’t try. Enlist the aid of family and friends to care for your child and never be afraid to ask for help. Contact your doctor, pharmacist, or local crisis center if your frustration is building and you simply cannot cope. Your baby will eventually outgrow colic. You just have to be patient and nurturing.

Sources:

“Colic.” http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/health/colic/

“Colic: How to Cope.” http://www.babycenter.com/0_colic-how-to-cope_1369745.bc?showAll=true

Singer, Jen. “5 Ways to Get Through Colic.” http://www.parenting.com/article/5-ways-to-get-through-colic