Follow this short guide to surviving colic to help power through a difficult time in your child’s life.
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Colic: a new parent’s worst nightmare. I know this because I WAS the colicky baby, and even now, at almost 30 years old, my dad still complains about how awful the first few months with me was. I swear they almost returned me to the hospital. It’s extremely overwhelming for parents, and it puts added stress on a relationship that is already tested when you bring home a newborn. We rounded up information and a quick guide to surviving colic to help get you through it.
What is Colic, Exactly?
The strange thing is no one completely knows what causes colic. Put simply, colic is “frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant.” According to Mayo Clinic, incessant crying and fussiness may be considered colic if the baby cries for three or more hours a day at least three days a week for three or more weeks at a time. When you find that simple calming measures like swaying, bouncing or using a baby swaddle aren’t useful in calming your infant, it may be worth consulting a physician. Until you speak to a doctor, there’s no way of knowing that there isn’t another reason for the constant crying. A check-up never hurts!
Some research suggests that colicky infants may be easy overstimulated or may cry from a lack of fully developed digestive system, good intolerances, a form of migraines or even anxiety. Although the true cause of colic is unknown, doctors find that there may be many causes that vary dramatically from child to child.
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Tips for Dealing with Colic (and Taking Care of Yourself)
Having a baby with colic can be especially traumatizing for mothers, increasing the risk of postpartum depression. As you focus on helping your child feel better, don’t forget to also take care of yourself and your spouse. The constant crying takes a mental toll on parents and often leads to feeling guilty, helpless or even angry. It’s understandable for parents to feel responsible, but ultimately, colic is unpredictable.
Here are a few tips for surviving colic with your infant (that will also apply to any crying baby):
- Use a newborn swaddle to wrap your infant tightly in a swaddle blanket
- Avoid putting your child in highly stimulating situations during the daytime
- Try taking baby for a car ride
- Gently massage your baby’s stomach
- Bounce, rock or swing your baby by hand or with the aid of furniture/toys
- Place your baby on your stomach as you lay on your back and gently rub their back
- Try a warm bath or lightly warm towel on your baby’s belly
- Offer meals in a quiet setting
- Try a new burping schedule or position
- Hold your baby in a more upright position during feedings and afterwards
- Play soothing music or white noise
- Walk around with your baby indoors or outdoors where it’s cool, keeping lights low
- If feeding breastmilk, experiment with food eliminations to attempt to reduce crying
- If bottle feeding, try different types of bottles and nipples
- And of course, take turns with your partner to attempt to get rest yourself
Despite how horrible it is in the moment, take a deep breath and remember that colic is only temporary. Take advantage of babysitting offers to ensure you have time to rest, and when you feel overwhelmed, wrap your infant in a baby swaddle and let them rest in their crib while you take a moment for yourself. It’s best to step away when the stress is causing anger to avoid potentially shaking the infant – remember, it will be OK.
Lastly, don’t cut yourself off from your support system. Keep your friends and family closer than ever to help support you through a potentially difficult few months. Surviving colic is difficult, but you’ll get through it.
What helped you survive a colicky baby?
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