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When your baby suffers from colic, it usually involves bouts of crying and screaming generally due to abdominal pains. As parents, we frantically pull out our phones and start googling colic remedies trying to figure out how we can help our child.
Officially, colic is diagnosed when the baby cries for at least 3 hours a day and this crying happens at least 3 times a week.
When does colic start?
Usually colic happens when the baby is around two to four weeks old and it can last for a few months.
How long does colic last?
Although it depends on the severity, there is usually an improvement around 3 months old. Colic can also happen any time of the day or night but usually, you can notice a pattern around late afternoon or evening.
Crying is a baby’s form of communicating whether they are hungry, tired, and would need several things from you. It is totally normal but when it starts to become excessive, louder, and lasts longer, it could possibly be colic.
If you are concerned you baby has colic please speak with your pediatrician. Crying due to colic may sound more like high-pitched screams and your baby’s face may look red and in pain.
You may notice that your regular soothing techniques may not work on the baby. Colic pains can come out of nowhere. Your baby maybe content one minute and miserable the next with their legs and fists curled up and the abdominal muscles become tense.
Although there is no specific cause for colic, there are certain factors that can contribute to it happening:
Excessive gassiness –
Babies are always eating so gassiness is a normal thing but sometimes, they have difficulty in passing gas. When a baby is relieved after passing gas, then this could be the main reason.
Related: How To Relieve Infant Gas Pains
Sometimes, stimuli from the environment around them can be too much for the baby and the only way they can cope is to cry and scream.
Food allergies –
The mother’s diet could affect how the baby would react to dairy products and other kinds of foods. Mom should try to avoid vegetables that cause a lot of gas like cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower. You can also stay away from acidic fruits, soy, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, chocolate, wheat, nuts, fish, and eggs.
My first baby was colicky and we found that the dairy in my diet was bothering his tummy. Once I cut that out of my diet he was a much happier baby. It may take up to two weeks to get the full effect since the dairy can stay in your system for up to two weeks.
When it comes to taking care of a screaming baby 24/7, sometimes a day can seem like a million years and you can’t wait for three months to arrive and for the situation to hopefully improve.
In the meantime, all we can do as mothers is to find the best way to provide colic relief to our babies. Luckily, there are a lot of different colic remedies that you can try out and see if it can help your baby.
Here’s how you can treat colic naturally or with the help of some useful products:
Watch out for baby’s and your diet –
If you are breastfeeding whatever you eat goes directly into the babies system. Moms can also refrain from drinking caffeine since it can cause the baby to become fussy.
If you are using formula to feed your baby, you might also want to check out another brand or try to switch to a lighter formula.
Baby bottles –
There are some bottles out there that can cause extra airflow and could lead to colic. It is best to get a bottle that works for your baby and will help prevent excess gas. The best bottles for colic are those that have the following characteristics:
Nipple Flow Options
Has nipple flow options to get the right balance of keeping the baby satisfied without sucking too hard, while making sure the milk is also taken in slowly to prevent an upset stomach.
Take into account nipple shapes since this can affect how much air bubbles can get trapped in the nipple. Some babies prefer wide nipples while some narrow so you would need to consider what your baby prefers. Nipple valves also have a built in system that allows air back out.
This depends on how your baby likes to feed. If they like the traditional inclined position, a regular shaped bottle would be fine. If they like to feed in an upright position, a bottle with more tilt is a better option.
Internal vent systems
Some bottles have this feature of an internal vent that will funnel air back out above the milk which reduces air bubbles in the milk and eliminates the vacuum inside a bottle.
Baby colic drops –
Gas relief drops can help in letting the baby burp or pass out the gas from their system and therefore providing that much-needed relief. These Little Remedies Colic Drops are highly rated.
Ask your pediatrician what kind of colic drops would suit your baby.
Gripe water –
This is inexpensive and is great for colic and other stomach issues. It can even help with teething as well.
Inquire with your doctor on what kind of baby probiotics to give to your child since this can help with intestinal health.
Carry/wear your baby –
Carry your baby with a wrap or carrier in order to have them close to you while swaying/bouncing/ or patting their bottom. This closeness will help them feel safe especially when they are feeling overwhelmed by the environment. The movement will also help to soothe their tummy.
Moving the baby –
Rocking and swinging the baby in a dynamic motion can be comforting for the baby. You can do this manually or use a rocking chair, swings, bouncers, or an exercise ball. The vibrating motions from these machines or any vibrating motion is also soothing for the baby.
Bath time –
A nice warm bath can be really calming for your baby. Try using baby products that have lavender, chamomile, and vanilla scents since these are soothing and can provide relaxation. Essential oils like peppermint and lavender can also be used and are great colic remedies.
Baby massage –
This can help soothe the baby due to the warmth of your touch. You can do this after giving baby a bath. Put their diaper on and place your baby either on a changing table or on your lap. You can use oils or baby lotion and massage using gentle yet firm strokes.
You can also move their legs in a cycling motion. Check out videos online or take baby massaging classes to help you out. If you feel like the baby isn’t up for a massage, you can always try another time.
Swaddling may work for some babies while it doesn’t for others. It can help to calm the baby keeping them feeling snug and also make them fall asleep and for a longer period of time. You can try out different swaddling blankets and see which one works for your baby.
Sucking a pacifier can be comforting and soothing for some babies and there is nothing wrong with this. It can also satisfy the urge of wanting to fill their stomachs excessively.
Related: The Best Pacifiers For Breastfed Babies
The shushing sound is actually really calming for babies since it brings them back to when they were in the womb. White noise coming from a machine, or even sounds of appliances can help baby block out other sounds from the environment that can bring about stress.
You can even buy a white noise machine or get apps that provide soothing sounds for the baby.
Soothing environment –
Sometimes when you have a calm and soothing environment for your baby free of any distractions and stressors, this can be a great help in keeping baby relaxed and calm. Sometimes, a change of scenery can also help.
Try placing baby in a dark and quiet room in order to relax them.
Solid foods –
Check with your doctor if your baby can start on solid foods especially if they have acid reflux. It is best to give them non-acidic foods like rice, cereal, pears, and bananas.
(Generally, it isn’t recommended to introduce solids until 4-6 months. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendations)
Feeding techniques –
Feeding your baby in the following ways can help ease excessive gas that could lead to colic:
- Make sure baby’s head is higher than the stomach.
- Before bottle feeding, let the formula rest for a bit before giving it to the baby in order to prevent bubbles from mixing in.
- Make sure you burp baby frequently during feeding.
- Make sure the nipple is always full of milk so that the baby won’t be taking in air.
Colic hold –
These types of holds can help calm your baby down. Try out these methods:
- Football carry – this kind of colic hold involves you holding the baby with their tummy on your forearm with their head towards your elbow and the legs straddling your hand.
- Neck nestle – place the baby’s head between your chin and chest and sway your baby back and forth. You can also hum a tune while doing this.
- Colic curl– put the baby on their back against your chest and curl your arms up with your arms around their bottom.
- Tummy rolls – on a large beach ball, put the baby on their tummy and gently roll in a circular motion. Make sure you secure baby’s back.
- Tummy tucks – put a cloth rolled up under baby’s tummy or a heating pad and place the baby tummy side down on a cushion with their legs dangling on the edge. You can also rub their backs while doing this.
Colic medicine –
There are colic tablets that your baby can take to help with colic and gas pains. You can also dissolve them in gripe water. Colic calm is a kind of medicine that can help with upset stomachs and provide gas relief as well as being soothing.
Baby Zantac can help relieve acid reflux in babies. Make sure you consult with your pediatrician before giving your baby any colic medicine.
Formula for colic –
Sometimes some babies are just allergic to certain kinds of formula and you need to find the best formula for colic. Enfamil Nutramigen is a hypoallergenic infant powder that can help colicky babies. You can also try out Enfamil Gentlease and Gerber GoodStart Soothe.
If you are breastfeeding, make sure you empty out the other breast before feeding the other. In this way, you are ensuring that the baby is getting the high-fat content and calories that can keep them satisfied and filled with nutrients.
Bonus: Colic remedies for mom:
- Sometimes moms need a break so don’t feel bad when you need to pass your crying baby to someone else so you can take a breather.
- If you are starting to feel stressed out, take a 5-minute break to calm down and place your baby somewhere safe before doing so.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
- Keep in mind that your baby crying isn’t your fault and you’re not a bad mom if you can’t get your baby to stop crying.
- Normally, colic lasts for 12 weeks so hang in there!
Every baby is different and not all colic remedies are effective for every child. Hopefully, some of these do give relief for your baby.
Keep in mind that not one remedy can work all the time so it’s better to try out various colic remedies if the one you have been using has been ineffective and don’t be discouraged if one method stopped working for your baby.
Combining colic remedies can also be an option and you can create a specific and unique solution for your baby that works. Although it may seem difficult right now – this won’t last forever and this is definitely a stage that you can overcome!