Colic can be one of the most frustrating experiences to haunt new parents. The chronic crying jags can last for hours and have a way of unsettling the nerves of even the most devoted newbies. According to the National Institute of Health, colic usually affects babies beginning at about three weeks of age and can peak between four to six weeks of age. The crying episodes can last for an hour or more, usually beginning around the same time every day. Infants with colic are most fussy during the evening hours.
Unfortunately, there is no definite explanation for why this happens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, colic typically indicates that a child is unusually sensitive to stimulation or cannot self-console or regulate his nervous system. Some experts suggest that certain foods may trigger the crying bouts and recommend that nursing mothers avoid caffeine and chocolate. Foods like broccoli, cabbage and beans may be yummy for mom, but can give baby a rumbly tummy. Parents may also want to consider baby’s sensitivity to his formula and take care not to overfeed or feed the baby too quickly. The idea is to reduce anything that will create a gassy, uncomfortable feeling.
So, what to do with a fussy, colicky infant? Here are some suggestions:
Snuggle your baby. Infant carriers and slings make it possible to hold him close as you go about your day. Doing so may keep those nighttime baby blues at bay.
Sit your baby upright, especially if you suspect that he is feeling gassy and uncomfortable. Doing so will alleviate the gas pressure and pain.
Sing songs and soft lullabies to soothe his nerves and yours.
Situate your baby on his tummy and rub his back gently. While this position may offer temporary colic relief, it is not advised that you allow a baby to sleep on his stomach.
Sounds—soft music or the white noise of a fan—can help lull baby into a place of comfort and calm. Try soft sounds on the TV for a quieting effect.
Swaddle your baby, allowing him to feel protected and warm. Let his head rest close to your heart so he can hear it beat as you comfort him.
Stroll the hallway or rock your little bundle. Gentle walking or rocking motion may help baby to pass gas. Strive for breaks in the crying. The more he cries, the more air he swallows.
While it’s true that this can be a trying time for parents already challenged by a lack of sleep, the good news is that colic is temporary. Most babies grow out of the colic episodes by the time they are three to four months old. So take heart—those cries will turn to coos in no time. Just be patient.
Kerri S. Mabee a longtime contributor to San Diego Family Magazine.
Published: January 2014