How to Deal with Colic in Newborns
Colic is one of those things that almost every new parent has to deal with at some point. It is a general term that is used to describe excessive and inconsolable crying in an otherwise healthy and well-fed infant. And when you are running on virtually no sleep. boy, can it drive you nuts!
Colic usually starts when your baby is about two to four weeks old. It can last until your little one is about three or four months old. No one knows what really causes it. It can occur at any time of the day or night, but it often peaks in the evening or at night. It can be very frustrating and stressful for both you and your little one. For many parents, it also brings about feelings of helplessness and guilt about not being able to soothe their baby.
What Factors Contribute to Colic?
As mentioned before, the exact cause of colic is not known. However, there are several possible factors that have been shown to make it worse. Some of them are:
- The baby's immature digestive system: this can cause gas, bloating, or reflux.
- The baby's immature nervous system: this may make them more sensitive to stimuli or overstimulated by their environment.
- The baby's temperament: this can make them more prone to crying or fussiness.
- The baby's adjustment to life outside the womb: this can be overwhelming or challenging for them.
- The mother's diet: if your little one is breastfed, your diet can affect the quality or quantity of breast milk or cause allergies or intolerances in the baby.
- The mother's stress level: this may affect the hormones in the breast milk or the emotional bond with the baby.
How to Deal with Colic in Newborns
There is no cure for colic. However, this does not mean that you have no choice but to tough it out. There are several things that you can do to help you and your little one cope with it. Here are some of them:
- Try different soothing techniques
You can try to calm your little one down by holding them close to your chest, rocking them gently, singing, or humming to them. If this doesn’t work, try giving them a pacifier, swaddling them snugly, or massaging their tummy or back. You can also place them on their side or stomach when they are awake and under supervision to soothe them.
- Remember to burp your baby after every feeding
Burping your baby after every feeding will help to release any air that they may have swallowed during the feeding process. After burping your little one, keep them upright for at least 20 minutes after a feed to prevent gas or reflux.
- Feed your baby on demand
Feed your little one on demand, or whenever they ask to be fed. Avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your baby. If you are breastfeeding, make sure your little one latches properly. Then offer one breast at a time, ensuring that it it emptied before switching to the other. If you are formula feeding, make sure you use the right type and amount of formula and mix it well to prevent air bubbles. You may also want to try different types of bottles or nipples that reduce air intake.
- Avoid foods that may cause gas or irritation in your baby
If you are breastfeeding, do not eat foods that may cause gas or irritation in your baby. Some common culprits are dairy products, caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, garlic, onion, broccoli, cabbage, beans, and nuts. When in doubt, consult your healthcare provider and ask for advice about your diet.
- Create a soothing and consistent bedtime routine for your baby
Babies love familiarity. It soothes them and calms them down. It also makes them feel safe. Creating a consistent bedtime routine may involve giving them a warm bath, reading them a story, playing some soft music or white noise, dimming the lights, or cuddling with them before putting them to sleep.
- Reduce the noise and stimulation in your baby's environment
Limit the amount of stimulation your baby gets during the day and especially at night. Do not expose your little one to loud sounds, bright lights, or too many people or activities. If you live in a house that is in an environment with a lot of distractions, consider using a fan, humidifier, or a noise machine to create a calm and comfortable atmosphere for your baby.
- Remember to take care of yourself and your mental and emotional health
It is no secret that colic can be very draining and exhausting for you as a parent. It can affect your mood, sleep, and energy levels, and even take a toll on your relationship with your partner. It is important to ensure that every once in a while you take some time for yourself and do something that relaxes you and makes you happy. Also, consider talking to someone you trust about how you feel. You can join a support group online or in person where you can meet other parents who are going through the same thing. Be sure to also ask for help from your partner, family, friends, or professionals if you feel like you need it. Remember, you are not alone in this. Your baby’s colic is not your fault or a reflection of your parenting skills.
- Be patient and positive
The good news about all this is that colic is not a permanent condition. Your baby will eventually outgrow it. So be positive knowing that this little challenge will eventually pass. Most babies outgrow colic by the time they are three or four months old. So until then, try to focus on the good. Take every opportunity to bond with your little one. Understand that it is simply the nature of babies to cry, they are not trying to annoy you or manipulate you. Your little one is in distress and needs your comfort and love. Try to be patient with them and simply do the best that you can. You’ve got this!
Dealing with colic in newborns can be challenging. However, with the tips and tricks outlined above, you should be able to do things that will help soothe your little one and make them more comfortable. Remember to consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s health, or if your baby’s crying persists for too long. The good news is that this is only a temporary solution and your baby will soon outgrow it. So try to focus on the positives and be patient with your kiddo. And while it may not look like it now, you’re doing just fine! Good luck!