During the first few weeks with a newborn your little one can turn from quiet cooing wide eyed wonder to a wailing shrieking tense little creature, clenched fists, kicking legs and a tense abdomen, screaming out high pitched cries. No matter how much comforting and attention you offer, nothing seems to soothe your little one, you are not able to offer any help to your wailing little one, you are upset, they are upset and seem in agony. This could go on for the next three to four months, and you will hear the following word spoken a lot ….. ‘Colic’
This is probably one of the most difficult times you will have with your new little baby, but you are not alone. So many parents suffer with a baby with colic, so first and foremost know that you are not alone and that there are others out there going through exactly the same as you and your baby.
Colic is often thought to be to gastric or gastrointestinal problems, the term colic comes from the greek ‘kolikos’ which means suffering in the colon. No one knows for sure what causes colic, so therefore no one knows for sure how to treat it. All we can do is to try and soothe it, and try and ease our babies struggle with it. I read that one gastroenterologist said that colic was a 5 letter word for ‘I don’t know’, as often Doctors will diagnose it but be able to offer little explanation. How can you tell if your baby has Colic, pediatricians would say that a baby has colic if they follow the ‘Colicky Rule Of Three’ The inconsolable crying follows these rules:
How do I know if my baby has Colic
The inconsolable crying follows these rules
Began within the first three weeks
Lasts at least three hours a day
Occurs at least three days a week
Continues for at least three weeks
Seldom lasts more than three months
If it isn’t gastric problems what is colic? Well that is a difficult question to answer but the following are all thought to be contributing factors to the carrying and pain of your little one:
What is Colic?
Colic is thought to be
stomach gas (due to poor burping & winding)
intestinal gas (pocketed in the intestinal tract)
neurological overload (an overwhelmed, overstimulated baby becoming exhausted)
a muscular type of colic (perhaps due to muscle spasm and birth trauma)
So now you have a rough idea of what symptoms a colicky baby might have how can you help? Well we can help by making two assumptions, baby has a pain in the gut and baby is upset as a result. So treatment will be to try and relax, and soothe your baby, particularly their abdomen. Most of the ways to help involve comforting, motion, and un-tensing baby’s tummy. Here are a few tips to try and aid your colicky infant:
Ways to help a colicky baby
Slower, less often feeds. Feeding too much and too fast can increase intestinal gas. Try feeding your baby half as much milk, twice as often. As a rule of thumb baby’s stomach is about the same size as her fist, place your little one’s fist near a bottle of milk or formula, see the difference? No wonder there little tummies can get tense
American Football Hold. This is a terrific Colic-Buster when Dad can earn his parenting stripes! Place baby tummy down along your forearm, with their head at you elbow and their little legs straddling your hand. Your forearm should press softly on baby’s tense tummy. This hold can be reversed so that baby’s cheek is in the palm of your hand and there tummy again along your forearm with their crotch in the crook of your elbow, whichever way round suits you or baby this will be a great position for soothing a colicky baby.
Neck Nestle Hold. Baby’s head snuggles neatly into your neck, between your chin and chest. Move around, sway, hum or sing a low slow song, whatever soft low song you choose will help take away baby’s tension.
Dance With Your Little One. Movement with baby held close is like the movement they felt all the time whilst in the womb, to go from constant movement, up and down, side to side, forward and backwards, to stillness must be a shock to the system. No wonder they want to cry out! Whilst holding baby in the American Football Hold, or Neck Nestle, move around and dance to your favorite tunes. The movement will help with gas and wind, and place baby back into a comfortable and familiar environment.
Swiss (Ball) Roll. Keep a secure hand on baby’s back, but drape them belly down over your exercise or swiss ball, gently roll in a slow circular motion. If you have one of these balls you could also have a nice baby bounce together. Hold your colicky child in your arms securely and sit on the ball and gently and slowly bounce up and down.
Belly Relaxation. During the peak of an attack you could try an abdominal relaxers, you could ask your nurse, doctor or health worker to go through some other baby abdominal relaxers with you if you feel unsafe doing them unpracticed. Baby lays on your lap with their legs towards you and their head by your knees, pump their little legs in a cycling motion whilst doing a lot of cooing and big facial expressions to keep them distracted.
Warm Bath. When I am at my most gripey, a warm bath does wonders for me, and will also do wonders for you and your colicky little one. A warm bath for two can relax both you and baby. Or another lovely warm touch for baby would be with Daddy. Dad lays on the floor or bed and baby lays tummy to tummy, skin to skin with their ear over dad’s heartbeat. The warm, fuzziness of Dad’s chest and the rise and fall of the chest and soothing sound of heartbeat is what some doctors refer to as a proven Fussbuster!
Babywearing. One thing which ‘people studiers’ or anthropologists have noted when studying people and behaviour around the world is that carried babies tend to cry and fuss less, and one common thought is that Babywearing can be an effective help with a colicky baby. Babywearing is not just picking up your little one when they have a bout of crying or a fussy moment, it means carrying your baby for several hours a day, even before they begin to fuss. A baby with colic can remain quite content if they are carried in a sling. Carrying a baby the correct way in a ring sling, or mei tai, or even using a soft structured carrier like the Babybjorn can help baby adjust to the world at a more comfortable and familiar rate. One theory with colic is that the behaviour is a result of disorganised bio rhythms, the womb regulates a baby’s system, but birth has disrupted this organisation, Babywearing is a way to extend the womb experience and provides an external regulating system helping organise baby’s bio rhythms. When comforting a colicky baby think of the womb experience as being 18 months long, nine months being inside the mother, and the next nine months outside Babywearing.
Try a little Colic Relief. Available through Amazon is the Colic Relief Pad. This is a massaging cushion or pad onto which you can place baby tummy down, a circular motion massager will soothe the abdomen whilst white noise and gentle vibration relax’s your infant.
Doctors don’t know what causes colic and maybe they never will, there is no known cure, but hopefully by just knowing you are not alone, that there is an end in sight and by trying out a few different ways to calm your colicky baby life for you and baby will be a little easier.
Main Image Pedro Klein