There may be times for you as a parent when nothing you do seems to soothe your baby’s distress. You may have changed her nappy, fed her, winded her, put her down to sleep and given her all the contact and attention you can, but still she cries inconsolably for hours at a time. The chances are your baby is suffering with colic, which is relatively common in babies under the age of four months. Once you have spotted the signs of colic, there are five simple steps you can take to ease your baby’s suffering.
Identifying Colic in Your Baby
The tell-tale sign of colic is excessive, prolonged crying when a baby is otherwise feeding well and generally healthy. In most cases, crying begins in the late afternoon, and it can continue well into the early hours of the morning. Your baby might pull her leg into her abdomen and arch her back during particularly severe bouts. As long as your baby is feeding normally, and showing no other symptoms, she is probably experiencing colic. Experts aren’t completely clear on exactly what causes this condition, but some experts believe it is either a reaction to wind and indigestion or a baby’s inability to make the conscious decision to stop crying once she has started.
Swaddle Your Baby
Imagine a burrito, which is a flour tortilla wrapped around a filling. It is thought that baby’s are often comforted by the same sense of security that was given to them in the womb. Grab a blanket, and wrap it around your baby like you would wrap a burrito – so she can’t freely move her legs and arms. This protection mimics the confines of the womb and helps some babies to relax.
Don’t Be Afraid to Create a Little Noise
A womb is a relatively noisy place, so your baby is probably used to lots of background noise during nap time. Experiment with sounds, including switching on a TV or radio, using a musical mobile or talking to your baby. Indeed, many parents rely on a car ride to deliver the perfect combination of gentle movement and background noise.
Massage Your Baby
Babies usually crave human contact during the first months of their life, and several studies suggest that stroking and massage can pacify a child with colic. Gently rub your baby’s legs, arms and tummy – this could soothe your child and help you to relax as well.
Use a Baby Sling
There is some evidence to suggest that babies who are in constant contact with a parent are more relaxed and sleep better at night. You can hold your baby close to you whilst getting on with other task by putting her in a sling or carrier. You can then position her against your chest or back, which should also allow you to rest your arms and shoulders during a long bout of crying.
Wind Your Baby
Colic can spiral out of control in a relatively short space of time, and one reason for this may be a build up of air in your baby’s stomach. Crying involves taking huge gulps of air, which will leave your baby feeling bloated and in pain – making the crying worse. Place your baby with her head on your shoulder, and gently pat the upper part of her back. You can also experiment with other positions, including lying her on your knees or sitting her upright.
If nothing you try seems to ease your baby’s suffering, it may be time to contact the local Children’s Hospital. A private midwife will be able to use extensive experience gained from working with hundreds of babies to get to the bottom of your child’s excessive crying. Remember, colic may be a horrifying experience to endure, but it won’t last forever.