After two weeks of life, many babies can become super fussy and irritable for no apparent reason. Sometimes, this irritation can go on in a continuous cry that the parents don’t know how and/or can’t calm it. This phase is a big challenge for all parents and, most of the time, it’s the famous colic.
If your little one suffers from loud and intense crying for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week, and for longer than three weeks, your baby is experiencing colic. This is what we call the “rule of three.”
Colic can develop between two and four weeks of life, although it usually occurs at night, it can happen at any time. Unfortunately, it is estimated that one fifth of babies experience colic, regardless of gender or whether the diet is exclusively breastmilk or formula. Its peak is usually in the second and third months of the baby’s life but it usually resolves after 12 weeks. It is rare but it may last until the baby reaches six months.
Doctors haven’t yet discovered the cause of colic; they assume some factors that may explain its causes are:
– The baby’s premature digestive system which is developing gradually;
– Refluxes that generate discomfort;
– The baby may have gas that causes pain;
– The environment may be over-stimulating the baby;
– Some research shows that food allergies, even breast milk, could cause colic.
It is natural for parents to be distressed and don’t know at first the difference between normal crying and a colic cry. So, a few tips to help you identify when your baby has colic:
They shrink and stretch his legs, move their arms, with little hands closed. They arch their back, get a flushed or reddened face while crying, showing pain. The belly may become swollen, too, because of the air it swallows while crying or because the baby needs to burp after breastfeeding, or pass gas.
Is it possible to avoid colic?
Many parents feel frustrated because they don’t know what to do during these times and I know it is quite horrible to see their child in pain and not knowing how to help their baby. Some studies argue that giving a baby lots of skin-to-skin contact in the first weeks of life, can help them with fewer episodes of crying.
Make sure you feed your baby on cue, whenever they show signs of hunger during the first weeks, don’t get too attached to the schedule, but try to establish a routine. Make sure you burp them after each feeding, face down on your shoulders and pat the baby on the back. When feeding them, keep them at a diagonal angle, upright so they don’t swallow air. Pay close attention to how they are sucking the nipple/bottle, because they can be swallowing air.
How can I calm my baby?
– Swaddle them tight, to imitate the comfort of the womb;
– Swing it on your lap lightly
– Offer a pacifier as sucking can calm them down;
– Put them in a bouncy chair or swing with a toy or mobile on the top of it. Use this especially if you re feeling frustrated for not being able to calm them down after a while;
– Wear your baby! It can help to relieve pain and you can also walk around with them. Or just keep your baby close to your chest, face down and massage their back;
– Put a relaxing background music; I love classic piano or string guitar!
– Give them a warm bath and very low light. You may add chamomile extract to the water or diffuse it (check with your doctor first!).
Try to change the methods each week so that you can better assess what works and what doesn’t. Don’t go around all of them within seconds. You need to give time for your baby to adjust to the soothing and it doesn’t happen right away. Sometimes the baby will cry even if you do all of this, but be calm, it’s just a phase and it will pass. If colic persists the ideal is to seek help from the pediatrician.
Caring for a baby isn’t easy, parents can often feel frustrated, anxious, helpless and irritated by this situation. Even in the face of such tension, you need to try to take care and control your emotions. Don’t shake your baby, as this can cause bleeding and permanent problems. Don’t even let your baby cry it out when they have colic. If you feel very stressed, ask someone to take care of your baby for a while so you can recoup. You need to take care of yourself for you to be able to take care of your baby. If you are alone, place them in the crib or somewhere safe and go to another corner of the house to breathe for a few minutes. It is okay.
Ask friends and family for help! This should not be an issue and you don’t have to feel like you must do everything on your own. Join a local moms’ group so you can share experiences and learn their tricks, tips, and advice. And don’t feel guilty, if you try to calm your little one and can’t do it. These tips are for them to feel better even in pain, because, unfortunately, this is a common issue many babies go through during this phase and there are no proven miracles out there to extinguish it.