Are you struggling with a colicky baby? I’ve invited Rebecca Palmer of Colic SOS to share her top three tips to help relieve. Read her expert advice here –
When families prepare for the arrival of their newborn baby, there is so much excitement. Lots of advice is given to the parents-to-be regarding sleep and routines, but colic is never mentioned. Who wants to contemplate having an inconsolable baby for hours on end? It leaves you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated just thinking about it. Caring for a colicky baby is a whole new kind of nightmare but it is a reality that affects over 25% of babies, globally. There are families everywhere in the midst of colic hell, feeling isolated and trying to navigate through this difficult time, hoping for a shining light at the end of the colic tunnel.
What is colic?
Colic is clinically diagnosed for a baby that is crying for more than three hours, three days a week, for a three week period, but is otherwise healthy and gaining weight. It can strike between the ages of three weeks to six weeks old but sometimes it can be earlier or even later. The timing of when colic symptoms appear is usually down to what is really causing your baby’s misery.
The term ‘colic’ is used as a sweeping diagnosis to cover various reasons as to why your baby is crying. Once you know the root cause of your baby’s distress then you are more likely to be in a position to help.
One of the most well-known causes of colic is trapped wind, gas and digestive complaints which creates meltdowns for your baby and result in bloated and hard tummies. Babies will likely have clenched fists, arching backs and inconsolable crying. Everything that we associate with colic.
Another lesser known cause of colic is the fourth trimester. This is the period of adjustment in the first three months of a baby’s life. Your baby is transitioning from the womb to the world and it becomes overwhelming.
Overstimulation throughout the day is another reason for inconsolable crying and this often results in the ‘witching hours’ in the evening.
How can you help your colicky baby?
If your baby is struggling with colic then these three tips can help you combat colic.
1. Baby Massage
Baby massage is an excellent way of combating colic if it has been caused by trapped air and gas. Babies tend to struggle with wind because their digestive system is immature. The tummy strokes, especially in a clockwise direction, help move the trapped wind around the gut and encourages the air to be released.
Baby massage has also been proven to mature the digestive system and improve brain to body communication so the more we massage a baby’s tummy, the more it will help a baby’s digestion to work efficiently.
Research also has shown that a loving touch through massage releases oxytocin and this ‘love hormone’ has a natural pain killing effect. Warmed oil applied with some tender loving care can provide a soothing effect too.
2. Recreate the Womb
If your baby is struggling to adapt to their new world then recreating the womb will help your baby adjust. Your baby was cocooned in a nice, dark, watery environment for nine months. They were rocked to sleep and soothed by the white noise of the blood rushing through the placenta. After birth, the world is very different to the surroundings that they have just left so helping your baby slowly adjust to their new settings in the first three months can help your baby reduce sensitivity.
To embody the environment, try safely swaddling your new baby, rocking and gentle swaying movements and use white noise such as the vacuum cleaner, hairdryer or white noise apps.
Wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier is soothing for babies with typical colic symptoms and reflux. The upright position keeps the baby straight so that any trapped wind can easily move and be released. With regards to reflux, it lets gravity to do its work of helping keep the milk in the tummy, rather than returning back up the oesophagus.
Babies enjoy being close to their mother as you are their one source of comfort. By wearing your baby in a sling, it provides that close contact and the sound of your heartbeat is comforting as that is one of the noises that babies hear in the womb.
The movement of being in the carrier whilst you are walking or you are pottering at home and getting on with chores, provides that gentle rocking that settles a baby and again emulates the womb.
Finding Your Tribe
Being a parent to a colicky baby is exhausting and overwhelming. It is imperative that you take support where you can. The expression ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ is one that parents should take heed. You must ensure that you look after yourself so that you can give your baby the best care. Find your tribe, accept support and remember that you are everything that your baby needs.