Colic – Ways to soothe your baby

Ah Colic, even people without children have heard of the condition that sends shivers down the spines of many parents. Effecting one in five families, colic is described as a condition whereby babies have episodes of crying that last for more than usual in otherwise well-fed, healthy babies. Happening between the ages of 2 weeks and 16 weeks, these bouts of crying may last for three or more hours, usually in the afternoons or evenings. Seeming as though bubs is having abdominal pain.

Symptoms of Colic

  • Pulling up of legs, suggesting abdominal pain
  • Tension in the face and body
  • Fits of screaming
  • Loud stomach rumbling
  • Lasts for longer than 3 hours
  • No amount of soothing seems to work
It might help you to know that most ‘colicky’ babies have no obvious physical or medical cause for their crying. If your baby is fussing and crying more than you feel is normal, it’s a good idea to see your GP or paediatrician to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms, such as:
  • Infection (Ear or urinary tract infection)
  • Hernia
  • Irritable nervous system
  • Allergies ie: dairy in the mother's diet
  • Nappy Rash
  • Baby Reflux

It has been previously considered that babies with colic may have on-going behavioural problems and family dysfunction long term, however according to new research conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) this may not be the case. Concerned parents can be rest assured that the MCRI-funded research conducted by Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician Dr Georgie Bell found that crying and stress related to the common infant condition is short-lived and will likely resolve.

This study, published in the latest Journal of Paediatrics looked for differences in behavioural outcomes once the children reached toddler age. They found no difference in behavioural or regulatory problems such as sleeping, feeding and temperament.

What you can do to help:

  • Cuddle your baby and let them know you are there for them
  • Hold your baby in a C position (cradle) to help calm them down
  • Check that they are comfortable in their clothing and are not too hot or cold
  • Swaddle them.
  • Keep soft lighting in their room
  • Humidify calming essential oils
  • Consider having them in a ring sling so they can feel close to you, they are great to still then have your hands free.
  • Play soft calming music
  • Give them a deep bath with a gentle massage
  • Take the baby outside for a walk or go for a drive in the car
  • Consider using digestive support like Gripe Water or Probiotics.
To read further about digestive support for your baby please also see our recent blog on how Probiotics for kids can aid in many conditions including colic. Mama’s of Colicky babies need to take extra good care of their own well being, this is already a time where you are adjusting to having a new little one and that alone can have its challenges, put a non-stop crying baby in the mix and its bound to have you feeling overwhelmed. Having a baby with colic can increase the risk of postpartum depression “The baby blues” If you feel like you aren't managing how you feel you normally would it's okay but it's important to ask for help.

Please keep these things in mind:

  • The cause is unknown, don’t blame yourself
  • You are not a bad parent if you can't seem to settle your baby
  • It isn't a long-term thing and won't affect them later down the track
  • This is a phase and it will pass, try to remain calm
  • You are not alone! This is a common issue that arises for many families
  • Consider joining a support group or chat to other parents of babies you know had colic
  • Chat to your Maternal and Child Health Nurse

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