It’s a problem which blights thousands of newborn babies and can drive new parents to distraction - colic and reflux can be hard to detect, but there are things which can help to relieve the problem for some babies, with a little trial and error. The mental impact of caring for a baby with colic can be considerable, and it's important that new parents are able to access great support mechanisms during what can be an intensely stressful time.
What Is Colic?
Colic refers to a state where an otherwise healthy baby is unsettled and cries for long periods of time with no obvious cause - often more than three hours a day. The condition tends to reach its peak between four to six weeks, and is generally gone by the time your child is four months old - but it can feel like forever at the time. The frustrating thing is that there is no clear cause for colic, and sometimes nothing seems to work to help the baby. New parents who are already tired, stressed and recovering from birth can understandably find their baby crying like this devastating.
How Can I Tell If It's Colic?
Colic is defined by daily periods of sustained crying and distress from the baby - of over three hours a day, at least three days a week and for more than three weeks. There will be no obvious cause such as being hungry or needing to be changed, and the crying usually occurs with regularity around the same time every day, often towards the end of the day. Other clues may be clenching their fists or curling up their legs or turning bright red. During the crying, your baby may swallow a lot of air, get wind and develop a swollen tummy. Baby colic can't be avoided or prevented, but there are things you can try to identify and reduce triggers, soothe your baby and reduce the length and intensity of their crying periods. If you’re concerned about your baby or suspect they might be unwell, please seek medical attention. It’s also a good idea to talk to your health visitor, midwife or GP in order to rule out any other conditions such as CMPA (Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy).
What Can I Try To Remedy It?
When trying to calm a colicky baby, there are several avenues you can try. Keep some notes and see if you can identify any common themes or possible triggers for your child. If you’re breastfeeding, colic is sometimes triggered by your diet. Try to avoid caffeine, which is a stimulant, dairy products and nuts, which your baby may be allergic to, and double-check any medication you’re taking with your doctor. If your baby takes formula, try different brands or types of bottle - there are some out there which are designed to help with colic or reflux. Many parents find the only thing that works is holding the baby in a certain position, and the babocush cushion can help with this by supporting babies in comfort. A hot bath, swaddling, skin-to-skin contact, baby massage or using a white noise machine can also help to soothe your child. You may need to try several different things until you hit upon a combination which produces results for your baby. Remember to ask for help and let friends and family support you through this time.