Everything About Your Colic Concerns And How To Help With Colic In Babies From A Mom Of A Colicky Baby

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You might’ve noticed that your baby cries anytime they’re awake and you have no idea why. You fed them, changed them, even after a good nap they still continue to fuss and cry. Your baby is not only in distress but you are too. This is probably due to colic. In this post, I’m going to go over how to help colic and different ways to soothe your baby.

When I noticed my newborn baby crying more than what I thought was normal- I started my search for answers. I needed to know why she was crying even after being fed, bathed, changed, and slept. This is when I came across the terms colic and colicky baby.

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What is colic?

Colic is not a disease or diagnosis. It’s just a term describing excessive crying and follows the “3 rule”. Colic is defined as crying for 3 or more hours a day for more than 3 days a week and for 3 weeks or longer. It typically goes away on its own by 3 to 4 months but sometimes lasts longer than that. From my personal experience, my colicky baby started to fuss and cry less when she became more mobile around 8 months old.

A baby with colic or colicky babies will cry when they’re completely content as in they’re well-fed, healthy babies.

What are the symptoms of colic?

It can be difficult to differentiate normal crying from colic. Fussing and crying is completely normal in the first months of a baby’s life. That’s why colic is defined by the “3 rule” (crying for more than 3 hours for 3 days a week and for 3 weeks or longer).

Colic symptoms are intense crying sort of like screaming, crying for no reason, extreme fussiness, predictable crying typically occurring around the same time everyday (around late afternoon, early evening), clenching of the fists, and their face turning red.

My daughter cried like she was in some sort of pain, fussed so much where nothing was helping her, and her crying didn’t exactly have a predictable reoccurring time. She just cried what seemed like all day long. She’d clench her fists and sometimes she looked like she wasn’t breathing because she was crying that hard. It can be frightening at times because you don’t know if it’s colic or something seriously wrong.

What causes colic in babies?

The direct cause of colic is unknown. But there are several different factors that can contribute to a colicky baby’s excessive crying. Reflex, sensitivity to breastmilk or formula, and other health conditions are some reasons for colic that should be ruled out by a pediatrician.

Other reasons for colic might be due to a digestive system that isn’t yet fully developed, imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, food allergies, over or underfeeding, infrequent burping, or family stress or anxiety.

I raised my concern about my daughter’s excessive crying to her pediatrician at the two-month well-baby visit. And surprisingly found out that there aren’t tests to diagnose colic. But he did reassure me that some reasons he’s noticed colic in babies are due to their digestive system being immature, they could be having gas pains, might be overstimulated, and crying is just simply some babies’ way of comforting themselves. Our pediatrician was not much help with my questions on how to help colic but it was reassuring to hear that it was more common than I thought.

What are the treatments for colic?

There are several different ways you can help colic. But there’s not one thing that’ll completely treat or get rid of colic.

The 5 S’s are a bundle of tricks that can help soothe your baby with colic which is swaddle, side-stomach position, shush, swing, and suck. And I’ll go over more on the 5 S method along with other remedies that worked for my colicky baby.

Colic Remedies and How to Help Colic

1. Put on white noise

Background noise can be very soothing for newborn babies. Our Hatch rest was a life saver the first 6 months. And we continue to use it during naps.

2. Play a baby playlist

Music has also been another great way to soothe my baby. I went through several different playlists on Spotify until my daughter repeatedly fell asleep to one particular playlist. The thing I love about this playlist is that it has a mixture of classical piano-type music along with white noise like the sound of rain and water.

colicky baby playlist

3. Walk around

Walking around while making the “shh” sound has been my go-to. I can definitely say my daughter being colicky contributed to my weight loss during postpartum. I had an unexpected c-section and getting up and down was painful. But the only way she was going to stop fussing or crying was if I held her, bounced her, and walked around the house “shh-ing” her.

4. Sit upright after every feed

Position your baby sitting upright after each feed to help things move along instead of causing stomach acid to flow back up. This will cause irritation making your baby fuss and cry. Realistically, you’re not going to want to take the time to do this during night feeds but it does make a difference. I highly recommend sitting them upright and burping them regularly during the first few months.

5. Burp regularly

Burping your baby especially if you’re a first-time mom is going to take some time to get used to. I was actually kind of nervous burping my daughter at first. I wasn’t sure how hard to pat or if I was patting too hard. And I most definitely not the best at burping her regularly after each feed.

However, once I incorporated burping more often after each feed, she became less irritable. Which ultimately meant she was less fussy.

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6. Go outside

Babies need fresh air just like you and me. And I’ve noticed that they tend to be more content when they’re outside. Some things that have worked for my daughter and I is walking around outside while she’s in a baby carrier (nice and snug to mama) and breastfeeding her in a rocking chair outside.

7. Swaddle

Your baby was nice and cozy in your womb. So swaddling creates a tight-knit environment that she’s been accustomed to. It provides security and warmth which in turn comforts the baby.

Babies also have startle reflexes. So they tend to jerk and flail their arms or legs that’ll startle them. Swaddling your baby will prevent that from happening. And swaddle is actually one of the 5 S’s that providers have recommended moms of colicky babies incorporate.

8. Gas drops or gripe water

You might’ve heard of gas drops and gripe water. I was actually pretty hesitant about these forms of “treating” colic because I wanted to stay away from giving her something she had to ingest. But after doing more research I felt more comfortable branching out and also learned a few things on the way.

Gas drops are medical treatment. The main ingredient in these drops is a substance called simethicone. It breaks up gas bubbles that are trapped in your baby’s tummy which makes it easier for them to pass gas.

Gripe water is a homeopathic treatment. In other words, it’s an alternative medicine containing a mixture of water and herbs. It has the same purpose as gas drops which is to soothe the baby’s tummy.

I ended up buying both gas drops and gripe water to help with my daughter’s colic. And both forms of treatment worked well. She was passing gas, her tummy was less hard, and was less fussy from it.

9. Create a routine

Babies thrive on routine and rhythm. This may be a little more difficult for working moms. But you can definitely make it happen. Have a routine for workdays and another routine for days you’re off work such as set scheduled naps and feeds. As you already know, babies cry when they’re uncomfortable, hungry, and tired. And being overtired can make colic even worse.

That’s why working your errands and appointments around your baby’s nap schedule might help them stay content and less likely to fuss. I saw a major difference in my daughter’s mood when I would take her for grocery runs before her first nap versus running errands with her after her first nap.

10. Massage

Infant massage is a thing. I learned this during my NICU rotation in nursing school. And there’s a lot of video tutorials online that you can utilize to relieve trapped gas. If burping after each feed, positioning them upright after feeds, and gas drops don’t work- then performing an infant massage might be just what your colicky baby needs.

11. More rest

Babies need as much rest as they can get for their growth and development. And with their growth spurts, developmental leaps, and developing bodies, this means they need more sleep. During these times, you might notice your baby crying a lot more than usual. And I mean a lot more than they already do.

In order to keep my daughter asleep for longer than 30 minutes, I always held her for naps. And her naps went from 30 minutes to sometimes 2 hours. But ultimately she was less colicky although I didn’t get much done around the house.

12. Suck

If you’re breastfeeding, your baby might just need the boob to help soothe their colic. Sucking is one of the 5 S’s that have been recommended by medical professionals. A pacifier is also a great alternative.

13. Relax

Too much stimulation can also be the cause of colic. And what better way for both mom who has to hear their baby cry all day and baby who is tired from crying all day than to relax. Put on a soothing playlist or put on a movie and dim the lights. Try to minimize other sources of stimulation or distraction around your baby.

Too much stimulation can also be the cause of colic. And what better way for both mom who has to hear their baby cry all day and baby who is tired from crying all day than to relax. Put on a soothing playlist or put on a movie and dim the lights. Try to minimize other sources of stimulation or distraction around your baby.

14. Reduce stimulation

I said this under “13. Relax” and I’m going to say this again. Turn the lights off, dim the lights, turn down the music, go to a quiet room with soothing background noise or music. Your baby is still getting to know the world outside of the womb. So we need to help them ease into all of the stimulations of our everyday life.

How To Help With Colic For Breastfeeding Moms

Experiment by taking certain foods out of your diet. Some babies have milk allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. You might’ve heard or read somewhere to reduce your intake of spicy food if you are breastfeeding. That’s because it might be irritating your baby’s tummy.

Additionally, I highly recommend you bring up concerns to the pediatrician in order to rule out reflux, possible issues with lactation such as lip tie, or food allergies. Always trust your mom’s gut and mom’s intuition.

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