Different Ways To Soothe A Colic Baby
Bringing home a newborn is a joyful event in anyone’s life. What can be alarming to first-time mothers or even seasoned parents is when their baby cries for prolonged periods and nothing works to soothe the baby.
It’s stressful and frightening to see a baby stay emotionally flustered for that length of time as they flail and become red in the face. It can make a parent feel hopeless and like many of us in those shoes, end in praying for not another episode.
While it’s unfortunate, it is common and there are certain practices a parent should try out. But first, we must understand what colic is and how to recognize it. This is an important part of the process that makes soothing the baby a little bit easier.
What is Colic?
Naturally, all babies cry as it is their only means of communication until a certain age. However, there is a difference between crying and colic. A colic baby is when a healthy baby cries rather randomly and at an alarming length. It can be hard to pinpoint the cause because it is never due to hunger or tiredness.
Colic in babies can start around w weeks or can appear later possibly if your baby was born prematurely. It may feel like a long 3-4 months but usually, it tends to taper off and go way by a few months.
While it may be hard to determine if your baby is being colicky or if this is a normal cry, we can look to the advice doctors give in determining the difference.
The first thing to note is that it may appear as if nothing will make the baby stop crying. Then we can move on to the factors below.
- Accumulates to about three hours a day.
- Occurs about three times a week.
- Happens for about three weeks in a row.
Colic has long puzzled experts and doctors but the three rules three mentioned above are some of the guidelines that remain consistent with babies being colicky. Having said that, those numbers up there may be troubling to any parent so it’s worth learning about the symptoms and possible causes.
The tricky thing that comes to colic symptoms is that they are not all that different from the symptoms we see in normal crying bouts. The difference isn’t the symptoms rather than it is the length of time that those symptoms persist. Regardless, it is important to look out for these factors below.
- Excessive crying
- Redding of the face
- Screaming fits
- Nothing is soothing the baby
- Expression of pain
- Extreme irritability
- Body tension; curled toes, clenched fists
Screaming Fits or Excessive Crying
If the baby has been crying for more than three hours it is safe to say you have a colicky baby. It’s also an indicator of colic when the screaming fits and excessive crying seem to come out of nowhere and are rather intense.
A pouty baby that has tension may qualify for being colic. If the baby constantly has their mouth firmly pressed shut, they are clenching their firsts, and their toes seem to be curled, this is another expression of colic. This may be harder to pick up on because typically the excessive crying is an indicator. However, a baby being this tense for long periods is always a pointer towards colic.
Even after the crying fit is over a baby may still show signs of being colicky. If the baby seems to be very irritable and still unpleased with whatever you do, this is a sign that they are colic. It doesn’t always have to be screaming and shouting for it to count. An overly fussy baby also may qualify.
Redding In The Face
When a baby gets red in the face it can be an easier way for the parent to tell If the baby is colic. While natural, If they are constantly red In the face from either screaming or tension, it is likely that the baby is colicky.
What Causes Colic In A Baby?
Colic is still a little bit of a mystery to some doctors and researchers. There aren’t a whole lot of answers behind why it may happen at certain times of day or night or reasons for the patterns that seem to develop. But just because they can’t pinpoint each unique case there are some pretty educated guesses and reasoning for the outraged kiddos.
- Undeveloped digestive symptoms and stomach pain
- Food intolerances and allergies that go from a mother to her breastmilk
- Overfeeding, underfeeding, or infrequent burping.
- Sensitivity to Surroundings
- Caffeine or nicotine in breastmilk
Underdeveloped Digestive Tract
One of the more common reasons colic may occur is because while the digestive tract is developing in a baby, they may experience muscle spasms, cramps, or unpleasant feelings that can trigger anxiety and unhappiness.
Breast Milk Issues
While a mother is breastfeeding her baby, it is always possible that the baby reacts to the food and substances the mother is consuming that end up in her breastmilk.
Food intolerance or allergies is one way a baby may start to become colicky. When it is through a mother’s breastmilk some studies have indicated that certain foods can be triggering for an infant. These include cabbage, chocolate, onions, cow milk, cauliflower, broccoli, and more. A baby’s intolerance may not be limited to just this food and drink list.
Nicotine and caffeine are also substances that can end up in a mother’s breastmilk that can upset the baby. With overconsumption of either of these things, a baby can have an allergic or intolerant reaction to the breastmilk because of this substance ingestion. This is because an infant’s ability to efficiently get rid of these substances is poor due to the development of the digestive tract.
Both of the mentioned above is a common cause to look out for when trying to eliminate colic.
A baby may show signs of colic when they are too full, not being fed enough, or aren’t burped properly after eating. If this becomes a reoccurring theme it can cause a pattern of colicky behavior that centers around one of the three. Cluster feeding might be another reason.
Sensitivity to Light and Noise
Sometimes it is the environment that is causing the baby to have an outrage. A baby may be sensitive to light or noise that can cause them to be upset or even as an infant, experience headaches that can be alarming to them.
How Long Does Colic Last?
This is one of the things that has been consistent enough across babies for researchers to determine. In most cases, colic will start up a few weeks after the baby is born and either progressively slows down by the time 3-4 months comes around. Sometimes it is not a gradual end and more of an abrupt end which is perfectly normal as well.
When you start to have more days where the baby isn’t crying hours on end than you do not, this is when it’s a sign it is slowing. We can always go back to the rules of the three mentioned above. Less than three hours, less than three days a week, and less than three weeks in a row.
How To Soothe A Colic Baby
There are several tricks up your sleeve you can pull out to try and soothe your colicky baby. It may feel hopeless because of the persistent ways babies will keep crying, but staying calm and trying to find a solution each time is important in trying to weather the storm.
When signs start to show that you have a colic baby, it’s always best to go ahead and call your doctor. They may be able to try and detect what exactly is triggering your baby to be so unhappy all the time. If the doctor is unsure, you can try each of these responses.
Digestive Issue Response
If you think that your baby is having problems with their stomach such as gas, muscle spasms, food intolerances, there are a lot of different tactics you can pull out to try and fix the issue. Just use one at a time. Also, give one a chance to work before panicking and moving on to the next.
- Applying very small amounts of pressure to the baby’s stomach may be calming and soothing for them. You can simply rub it with your hand or flip the baby over on your leg, arm, or shoulder while rubbing their back.
- Infrequent burping was one of the suggested causes and symptoms listed above. Simply, try burping your baby to see if you can relieve some of their uncomfortableness.
- Probiotics are a healthy bacterium that some babies may not have enough of. By giving your baby probiotics you may be able to help with their digestive tract issues. Consult a medical professional first.
- Consider your diet. If you drink excessive caffeine or smoke, you may be leaking those things into your breastmilk. Also, there are certain foods we mentioned above that may be aggravating your child’s digestive system. Try the elimination method and switch it up.
Stimulation and Other Methods
As mentioned, it is possible that the baby is upset about their environment due to light or noise sensitivity. It’s also possible that we just won’t be able to figure out what is so upsetting. These methods are also good ways to try to soothe your colic baby.
- Give your attention quickly. If you can respond fast enough you may be able to stop the crying right then and there. If you walked into a noisy restaurant, quickly leave, and next time bring little headphones if possible. However, a baby may not like those.
- If you notice that your baby does get overwhelmed in busier environments, limiting these are your best solution. If you can choose when your baby is exposed to these environments, bringing a baby when they are not tired is best. So early morning instead of late afternoon/nighttime.
- Classically swaddling a baby will always be a way to try and calm a baby down. Offering any kind of calming environment is always going to be a good solution. Peaceful music, dim lights, their favorite toy, and soothing touch are always great ways to try to fix the situation.
Colic Baby FAQs
Here are some more frequently asked questions that mothers and parents have when it comes to a colic baby.
When Should I Seek Help?
Seeing a pediatrician early on is always a good idea. They can start to rule out any other potential causes that your baby would be excessively crying not due to colic. This could be an illness, broken bones, or even allergies that are due to have to do with colic.
A pediatrician can help you monitor the situation and try different methods out with you. They also provide some relief and normalcy to the parents because of being a sounding board.
What Do I Do When I Start To Feel Frustrated?
It’s natural for any parent to start feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the situation. Calling in for backup is a good idea even before a mother starts to get frustrated. This is because a new set of arms for the baby can not only be a possible solution to colic but also give the mother a break. Going at it alone is a difficult thing for anyone to do.
How Common is Colic in Babies?
Colic is very common. The number of babies and their parents who experience it is roughly 1 in 5 babies. While only 20 percent of babies may have colic, it is not that uncommon. If you do experience colic with your child, it usually lasts no more than a few months and in better scenarios a few weeks.
Colic can be quite alarming. At the moment it feels like it is never-ending and when another episode approaches for no apparent reason that you can see, the anxiety starts to creep in. But If you can find ways to keep calm by implementing some of the tactics listed above, you can get through it. If you aren’t able to keep calm you may worsen the situation by overstimulating your baby. It’s normal to have a difficult time staying relaxed so in that case consult your pediatrician.