Colic is frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. Colic can be particularly frustrating for parents because the baby’s distress occurs for no apparent reason and no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief. These episodes often occur in the evening, when parents themselves are often tired.
Episodes of colic usually peak when an infant is about 6 weeks old and decline significantly after 3 to 4 months of age
Infants often show signs of colic at the same time every day, usually in the evening. You might notice that your child cries –
• With no clear reason (such as hunger or a dirty diaper)
• Like they’re in pain
• Along with clenched fists, stiff arms, an arched back, or curled legs
• While turning bright red
Your child might swallow a lot of air while they’re crying. This can give them gas and make their belly tight or swollen.
The cause of colic is unknown. Possible contributing factors that have been explored include:
• Digestive system that isn’t fully developed
• Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract
• Food allergies or intolerances
• Overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping
• Early form of childhood migraine
• Family stress or anxiety
Colic is stressful for parents. Research has shown an association between colic and the following problems with parent well-being –
Shaken baby syndrome
The stress of calming a crying baby has sometimes prompted parents to shake or otherwise harm their child. Shaking a baby can cause serious damage to the brain and death. The risk of these uncontrolled reactions is greater if parents don’t have information about soothing a crying child, education about colic and the support needed for caring for an infant with colic.
How to soothe colic in babies?
Along with frustration and exhaustion, you may have feelings of inadequacy and guilt as your efforts to soothe your fussy baby are going in vain. So just stay calm, try these strategies to ease the strain until colic passes.
Just give every way a fair shot before you switch to another ( don’t pull out too many tricks at one time to soothe baby). Talk to your doctor for tips and possible causes of your baby’s colic too.
▪︎ If you suspect overstimulation –
• Respond. Crying is a baby’s only way of communicating his needs. As your baby start crying, you come running to his side — powerful stuff when you’re otherwise completely powerless. In fact, studies show that responding promptly to your baby’s cries will reduce his crying in the long run.
• Excise excitement. Limit visitors and avoid exposing your baby to new experiences in stimulating environments, particularly in the late afternoon and early evening. Watch how your baby responds to certain stimuli — and make yourself clear of any that seem to offend.
• Create calm. Trying to make your baby’s environment peaceful might help him relax. Dim the lights, speak or sing in soothing tones and minimize other noise and distractions.
• Apply pressure to baby’s tummy. Some colicky babies find relief when pressure is placed on the abdomen — and the power of touch alone can be very soothing for both parent and child.
So place your infant face-down on your lap or upright with his tummy against your shoulder, or try the “colic carry,” where your little one lies face-down with his belly resting on your arm. Then gently rub or pat his back as you hold him.
• Try burping your baby. If your baby’s inconsolable fussiness is due to gas, sometimes burping him will help relieve the pain. Make sure you’re burping your baby effectively.
• Ask about antigas drops. Reducing gas may reduce the discomfort (and crying). So ask your pediatrician about trying gas drops made with simethicone, which works by breaking up gas bubbles and can relieve your baby’s symptoms.
• Consider probiotics. Probiotic drops may potentially curb the crying in some colicky babies, probably because they ease tummy troubles (probiotic bacteria grow naturally in the digestive tract and help promote intestinal health).
• Watch what you eat. If you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about whether you should try temporarily eliminating any foods from your diet that can cause tummy troubles for your baby, such as gas-causing cruciferous veggies (cabbage, cauliflower and others), acidic citrus fruits or allergenic foods (dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish).
• Ask about switching formulas. For some formula-fed infants, swapping a standard variety for one designed for sensitive tummies or one that doesn’t contain cow’s milk can make a difference. Studies have found that giving colicky babies hypoallergenic whey-hydrolyzed formula decreases colic symptoms in some babies. Just be sure to get your doctor’s approval before making the switch
▪︎ Other calming remedies for colicky babies
• Get close. Not only does cuddling, wearing or carrying your baby give him the pleasure of security and physical closeness to you, but it may help you tune in better to his needs. Worried that holding your baby too much will make him spoiled or clingy? Set those fears aside. You can’t spoil a newborn — so if holding him seems to soothe him, cuddle away.
• Swaddle. Toss a blanket in the dryer and while it’s still warm, wrap it snugly around your little one. The combination of warmth and the feeling of security may help dry baby’s tears.
• Try white noise. The hum of the vacuum cleaner or dryer can be comforting to babies (it reminds them of the womb). A white noise machine can also help.
• Play soothing music. A crying baby might also respond to the quiet singing of a lullaby or softly playing classical music. Other infants enjoy the sounds of nature or the whir of a fan. Repeating “shh” or “ahh” to your little one can also help. Experiment to find something your baby seems to like.
• Get in motion. Try swinging or rocking. Newborns find gentle movement comforting, since it feels like what they experienced in the womb.
• Offer a pacifier. Some colicky babies seem to want to eat all the time — and that might be because sucking is soothing, not because they’re hungry. So if your child seems ravenous frequently and adequate feedings don’t seem to satisfy him, a pacifier might help. Check in with your doctor if you’re not sure whether baby is getting enough to eat at mealtimes, though.
• Get out of the house. Sometimes just a change to an outdoor location will magically change a baby’s mood. Movement can help too. Take your baby for a walk in the stroller or carrier, or strap him into the car seat for a drive.
Home Remedies to soothe baby colic
• Take a pinch of asafoetida and make a paste with water. Rub it on your baby’s belly and let it dry. You can also add a pinch of ajmoda powder to this as well.
• Dry sauté some ajmoda(ajwain) seeds, wrap it in a piece of cloth, and place it on your baby’s belly. Make sure it is not hot before placing on the belly.
• Have your baby lie belly down on top of a hot water bottle (be careful to make sure it is not too hot).
• Do abdominal massage and leg exercises with your baby daily.
• Make a tea of cumin, coriander, fennel, dill, ajmoda, and vidanga seeds. Drink this twice a day. Traditionally, this is made as homemade gripe water and given to the baby, as well. Be sure to discuss with your baby’s healthcare provider before giving anything aside from milk at this age.
• Drink chamomile tea throughout the day. If your baby has night colic, drink a glass around 5:00 pm.
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