Soothing A Colicky Baby

When you think on becoming a parent, for most the first thought that comes to mind is a sweet happy baby. You don’t anticipate a constantly-crying infant that is inconsolable for hours on end. Some parents are fortunate to have that perfect infant that is happy-go-lucky the majority of the time. At least, our first born was that way. Others, however, know all to well the struggles of having a fussy baby. I can relate and when baby’s not happy, no one is happy. With our son we tried everything to help with his colic and teething pain.  While every baby is different and what works for one may not for another, here are some tried and true methods that may help for calming a fussy baby.

What is Colic?

Basically, if your healthy baby cries constantly for hours with no apparent reason, this is considered colic. Babies can’t communicate so they use crying as their means of telling you they need something, a bottle, a fresh diaper, or to be held. To determine if your baby is colic, follow these triple 3 indications – baby cries for 3 hours or longer, for 3 days or more in a week for 3 consecutives weeks. Colic is typically present in infants younger than 5 months, usually around the 2nd or 3rd week. It is completely harmless but can be quite taxing on the parent.

Soothing Techniques for Colic

If your baby cries excessively these are some methods you can try to help soothe your fussy infant.

  • Rocking – this is often a soothing technique that most babies like. You can try rocking while holding your baby in a cradled position or upright on your chest. This can help for relieving gas or an upset tummy as well. You can also try putting them in the swing- same concept.
  • Swaddling – young infants like to be cuddled. Swaddling is a technique many parents find comforting for their cranky baby.
  • Pacifiers – sucking is also a comfort for babies. Try offering a pacifier to your baby. Some babies are more accepting to pacifiers while some (such as mine) or very particular. My babies both preferred the soothie they received from the hospital over the traditional pacifiers.
  • Switch bottles- if your baby is bottle-fed and you find they are gassy or spit-up frequently you might want to try switching bottles. Your baby may be ingesting too much air which can cause gas. Dr. Brown’s bottles worked great and they have wide-neck bottles that work great for breast-fed babies.
  • Burp your baby frequently. Try burping at least every 2 oz your baby takes to help eliminate tummy trouble.
  • Go for a drive- a car ride always soothed my children to sleep when they were babies. Many parents attest to driving around the block to help soothe their colicky baby
  • Sing to your baby – there is nothing like hearing mommy’s voice to a baby. You can try lullaby CDs, white noise machines and musical mobiles, but singing to your baby can be more beneficial to calming your baby.
  • Bath – some babies (not all) love baths and if your baby is having one of his crying fits, a warm bath may help your baby to relax in addition to a bed time routine.

Natural Colic Remedies

There are several products available for soothing colic. Many parents have sworn by gripe water, I know I did. There are several different brands on the market including Colic Calm, Mommy’s Bliss, and Little Remedies. Other remedies that have helped include anti-gas drops as well as probiotics. Still, others have used diluted herbal teas containing chamomile, fennel or peppermint to help soothe baby’s tummy troubles. You should always consult with your child’s doctor first before giving them anything to be certain it’s safe.

Colic in Breastfed Infants

Sometimes a breastfeeding infant may become colicky because of something mom ate. There are certain foods that can cause gas in babies. If you find your baby unusually gassy, you may want to try avoiding some of these foods and see if it makes a difference:

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Certain vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage
  • Spicy foods
  • Garlic
  • Caffeine

Colic in Formula-Fed Infants

There are certain formulas that are specifically formulated for gassy babies. If your baby is on formula and you suspect it is causing their fussiness ask your doctor about possibly switching. She may want to test your baby for acid-reflux or a milk-allergy before recommending a specific formula.

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