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Surviving the Colicky Days

Alison Wood |16, October 2012


Ahh. Home Sweet Home. No more IVs, blood pressure checks and uncomfortable beds. Best of all, you just know your new bundle is going to fall in love with her new stylish abode. Now it's time to relax and savor the quiet, peaceful home that you share with your sweet-smelling bambino.

Suddenly your serenity is abruptly interrupted by a very demanding cry.

"But I just fed her 15 minutes ago," you think. "She can't be hungry again. I should check if she has a dirty diaper." You pick up the little one and, much to your dismay, she is squeaky clean. "Maybe she just needs a little more soothing and then she will fall back asleep." And so the rocking begins. You rock, she screams. Rock. Scream. Rock. Scream.
"Hmm, maybe she didn't get enough to eat last time."

So, you begin to try to feed her. Within minutes she is screaming again, with milk dribbling down her mouth. Her back is arched and her fists are clenched tightly shut.

Anywhere from birth to three weeks after birth, a baby can begin these crying spells. These episodes of unexplainable and intense crying have, in the medical field, gained the term Colic. The typical colicky baby has persistent, ear-screeching crying that continues for 3 or more hours a day for 3 or more days a week.

What causes Colic?

Overstimulation, gas pains, lactose intolerance and stress are typically the nasty culprits for this peace-snatching condition.

What Can I Do?

If overstimulation is the cause, try taking your baby to a quiet area where the lights are dim. Swaddle her and hold her close. Begin swaying or gently rocking. Try adding some white noise, like a fan or the clothes dryer.

Perhaps you noticed that your family, as a whole, are a little on edge about this new baby thing. There are so many adjustments and decisions to make. Maybe this baby was carefully planned, or maybe it was an unexpected surprise. Whatever the case, your little peanut needs a calm and collected environment. If you become stressed, try some deep breathing techniques to loosen up the tension. Sometimes a change of scenery will do you and your infant some good. Step outside for a short stroll and get some fresh air. If your screaming infant is taking a toll on your sanity, ask a friend or relative to watch the baby for half an hour so you can take a break. If no one is available, try laying the baby in her crib for a little while. As long as you have checked to make sure other sources are not causing her discomfort (soiled diaper, hunger, cold feet or hands), do not hesitate to get your needed break in this fashion. Just a quick break helps bring serenity back to your home. Your tiny bundle needs a calm and collected mother. Short breaks like this will benefit both mommy and baby.

Another relaxation technique is infant massage. Massage her hands, feet, arms, legs and back to soothe away any pain or stress. Infant massage is also a way to create a loving bond between mommy and baby.

Many times trapped gas can produce these fits of colic. One way to help release the gas is frequent burping. Even if you are in a hurry, do not skip burping during and after a feeding. Try different positions for burping. If you are breastfeeding your infant, consider your diet. Consuming gas producing foods can have negative effects on your baby's tummy. Here is a list of some foods that could cause tummy trouble:

  • dairy
  • caffeine
  • soy products
  • peanuts
  • shellfish
  • chocolate
  • citrus foods
  • wheat
  • nuts
  • certain veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions)

Another helpful bit of advice is to add some good bacteria to your baby's diet. Probiotics have been proven to help with constipation and decrease painful gas episodes. Specialized infant formulas include probiotics. Probiotic infant drops are also available. Ask your doctor about the advantages of probiotics and the best way to include them in your little one's diet.

If you are bottle-feeding, the lactose in your infant's formula could be the cause of this fussiness. Consider switching to a soy-based formula or a lactose-free formula. It is always best to discuss this change with your pediatrician before choosing a different formula.

What is the outlook for a colicky baby?

Symptoms of colic normally disappear around three to four months of age. Until then, remember you are not alone and you are not a horrible mother. Mothers from all walks of life have experienced and endured this stressful situation. Encourage yourself to try these tips today.

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