How to soothe a colic baby
About to lose your mind because your little angel is crying for hours on end? Your every attempt to soothe them just IS. NOT. WORKING. If you hear that screeching cry for one more second you may seriously go off the deep end…for real this time. Colic could be the culprit. So how do you treat a newborn with colic?
Read on for the signs, causes, and treatments.
What is baby colic?
Baby colic definition
All babies cry. We know that. This kind of cry is different though.
A baby with colic is inconsolable and there is nothing you can do to comfort them.
They cry out of the clear blue sky for a prolonged period of time.
It occurs around the same time of the day or evening. They have tight fists, kicking feet and a beet-red face.
The cry is more of a scream or a wail and less of an actual cry.
Colic in babies can come out 3 weeks after they are born, and it will most likely peak around 6 weeks of age.
The length of time that this phase will pass varies, but most babies grow out of it by 4 months old.
Sometimes this could be caused by painful gas, but other times its more than that.
Coping with Colicky baby
Colic can be difficult and challenging for parents to care for their baby who has colic.
Sometimes these witching hours can last for many, many hours into the late night and this will make you want to lose patience.
A parent of a baby with this condition will need lots of support, encouragement and positive vibes from others.
A baby that cries non stop could definitely wear on you and make you feel frustrated.
If you start to feel overwhelmed and other feelings of extreme frustration, it is imperative that you ask for help.
You can also set the baby down in a safe place and walk away for a minute to take some deep breaths. Remind yourself ” this too shall pass”.
Seek out some new mom support groups in your area to meet other moms that are dealing with the same thing.
If you have someone close to you that can watch the baby for a bit, take advantage of it.
Symptoms for colic baby
Some doctors say that to diagnose a colicky baby, the episodes have to come in 3’s.
This means that the baby’s screaming periods of time have to:
- last more than 3 hours at a time
- happen 3 or more times a week
- consistently happen for 3 weeks in a row
You can help the doctor diagnose colic by keeping a record of the above list, and also write down:
- what your baby’s stools are like (big or small, loose or hard)
- if you are ever able to calm them down at all
- when your baby eats and what they eat
- if your baby is breastfed, keep a list of everything that you eat, because all of what you eat gets passed to your baby
Other Baby colic symptoms and signs
- crying hysterically for hours for no reason. This means nothing else is wrong, such as needing a diaper change or needing to eat.
- crying around the same time every day, whether that’s afternoon or evening
- pulling up legs like they have gas
- passing gas when they are crying
- tighten their stomach muscles
- tight fists
- might poop more and have more gas or spit-ups
- eating and sleeping become interrupted by bouts of the screaming crying
Your doctor will do a physical exam of your baby to see if there are other reasons or causes for the prolonged fussiness. Then they will go over your baby’s history to see if there are any underlying health issues.
It could be that they have some stuffy head and chest congestion in them that needs relieving.
What is baby colic caused from?
There is no real answer or definitive reason as far as what exactly causes colic.
It is not a reflection on you as a parent, so don’t feel upset.
There are a few possibilities of what could cause it:
- Immature digestive system – a baby’s GI system is brand new. It is a big task for food to be digested in your baby’s tummy. That said, sometimes food passes through their system too fast and it can result in gas and discomfort.
- Infant GERD – sometimes a baby can get acid reflux and this is believed to be a possible cause of baby colic. This can be because a baby’s esophageal sphincter is underdeveloped. When this is underdeveloped, it doesn’t do a good job of keeping stomach acid from coming up and splashing the throat. Mayo Clinic has an article that explains everything about infant GERD.
- Food sensitivities – one theory is that colic can be a result of the baby being lactose intolerant. This is an allergy to milk protein which is found in formula. A baby can actually have a sensitivity to breast milk too. Your doctor will help you know if this is the case.
- overfeeding your baby and feeding too quickly
- exposure to tobacco smoke – it has been noted that babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy or are exposed to smoke after birth are more likely to develop colic
- intestinal gas– when babies have these intense crying bouts, they swallow more air which causes gas
When to call the doctor
If your baby’s crying or behavior changes abruptly, call the doctor.
Also call your provider if your baby has a fever, vomiting, bloody stools or decreased movement overall.
How to help baby colic
Newborn baby colic treatment
There are a few things that you can do to help comfort your baby with colic. A baby with colic is hard to comfort, but you can try these:
- A walk in the stroller outside.
- Skin to skin time with you.
- A warm towel on their belly.
- Having some white noise on for them (fan, vacuum, dishwasher, hairdryer). This white noise machine is great for this.
- Try offering them a pacifier.
- Going for a drive.
- Swaddling your baby (check out the video below for how to do a great swaddle). This is an awesome blanket to swaddle with.
- Bouncing or patting them.
- Hold your baby a ton (you cannot spoil them by holding them too much). Here are some perfect baby carriers you can get so you can wear your baby and have your hands free.
- Rock your baby in a rocking chair and keep them upright. Do the shushing noise to soothe them.
- If your baby is breastfed, empty one breast completely before offering the other breast. This ensures your baby is getting hindmilk as well as foremilk.
- Do not overfeed your baby. Wait longer between feedings too so they don’t get uncomfortable.
- Burp them more frequently.
- Try massaging your baby’s back.
- Play soft music or sing and talk to them.
None of these suggestions are going to be a solid answer for how to soothe your baby.
Just keep trying a combination of all these things on the list. Try one for a few days and switch to a different approach after that.
Keep in mind, this has nothing to do with you or how you parent.
A baby with colic is going to go through these episodes no matter what, and it is not a reflection on you.
It is nothing you did wrong.
What else have you done to treat baby colic? Comment below and please share with other moms!
Megan is a family and parenthood blogger with topic on babies, toddlers, self care, family finance and more. Her core beliefs are that moms need a strong support system, and a sense of community through their parenting journeys. Our blog provides a strong sense of community and helps to instill confidence in moms.