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Dealing with Colic

Updated on April 1, 2015

Colicky Babies Respond to Cuddles!

Sleeping peacefully at last!
Sleeping peacefully at last! | Source

Don't Hyperventilate about Colic!

Perhaps the most important factor to understand when dealing with colic in babies is that you are not going to cure it; when you come to terms with that you should begin to feel a little better. Colic can afflict some babies—and their families—from when they are just a few weeks old until anything up to five months of age and the most you can try to do is make living with it as comfortable as possible for you, your baby and the rest of your family and friends. If your baby is screaming with colic pains that you are unable to relieve, try not to embark on a guilt trip or stress out. Instead just carry on as calmly as possible and, if necessary, take time out to steady your nerves, even if that time out is simply to put on a headset and listen to your favourite music, hand baby over to someone else while you have a soothing bath, or jump onto the treadmill and pace off some of your frustration.

The Cause of Colic in Babies

Unfortunately we do not really know the cause of colic; all we know are contributing factors, so really your screaming baby could be suffering from one or all of the following. That being the case it is, in my experience at least, very hit or miss as to whether you really know what the problem is at any particular time. Perhaps that is the main reason why dealing with colic can be so nerve wracking and such a problem to solve. You only have to look at this list of common causes for colic to see how difficult it is to attribute one reason for your baby’s pain.

  • Too much air in the bowels causes abdominal pain;
  • If the child is breastfed there may be sensitivity to foods that occur in the mother’s diet. In particular the foods recognized as causing colic are leafy vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, beans, dairy products, caffeine and garlic. In other words foods to which many adults are sensitive or allergic;
  • Breastfed babies also suffer from gastrointestinal problems when they switch from one breast to the other too quickly, thereby partaking of the sugary first milk without having consumed the full feed from the first breast;
  • Both breastfed and formula fed babies can suffer from overfeeding;
  • Formula fed babies may have an allergic reaction or low tolerance to dairy protein.

Five Common Symptoms of Colic

Does your baby cry or scream inconsolably and continuously with a high-pitched wail? Does this usually happen during the late afternoon or evening? Are his legs drawn up towards his body as if he wants to curl up into a ball? If so the cause is probably colic. What is more the situation tends to escalate because through crying his abdomen will become tight and hard and he will suffer from increased flatulence due to burping and swallowing air whilst screaming.

Try Herbal Remedies to Soothe You and Your Baby


Is Your Baby at Risk?

It would appear that if you smoked during pregnancy or after delivery your baby may be at greater risk of developing colic. However, there are many theories about what makes infants susceptible to colic and few proven.

Colic does not seem to be more prevalent among first-born babies or those who are formula fed. Girls and boys are equally likely to experience colic. As a parent you can only review a check-list of factors that are thought to have contributed to the problem in other babies and try to eliminate them as causes of your own child's colic.

Treatments to try when Dealing with Colic

Unless there is one clear cause, such as a recognizable reaction or allergy, you may have to try several different remedies to help soothe baby and it is possible that none of them will work. That said there are a number of things you can try. As mentioned earlier, this can be very upsetting and frustrating for all the family and if possible, to avoid getting overly frustrated and possibly angry, it is useful to explain to everyone the situation and elicit help from those around. On top of that these tips might help;

  • Try herbal drinks (fennel, chamomile, licorice, mint, anis, verbena ) for baby; these can be soothing to the tummy and psychologically helpful too since you feel you are doing something practical to help and baby is receiving physical comfort;
  • Burp your baby well after feeding;
  • Feed baby in an upright position as far as possible,
  • Speak to the doctor about changing the formula and possibly trying a non-dairy formula, and using gripe water to warm and soothe your baby's tummy;
  • If breastfeeding try to discover if certain foods affect your baby by eliminating them from your diet one at a time;
  • Swaddle baby and carry him for soothing body contact;
  • Try to find ways to distract or sooth him, patting him and bouncing him gently, rocking and singing, whispering in his ear, playing gentle music or calming sounds;.
  • Take him for a walk in his stroller.
  • Wrap his tummy in an extra layer for warmth.

Stop Press! Probiotics!

Probiotics has been found to help babies as well as adults with digestive problems. A recent study showed that babies given drops containing Lactobacillus, which is a 'healthy' bacteria known to ease digestion, decreased their crying to about 35 minutes a day. The study took place over a three week period. Consult your doctor before trying this remedy.

Be flexible When Feeding a Colicky Baby

There are many different schools of thought concerning baby feeding routines-personally I recommend being flexible with your child. Breastfed babies often eat more frequently than formula fed infants, enjoying the calm contact they enjoy with their mother. Even if bottle feeding there is no reason why you should not try feeding your baby half as much the recommended quantity, twice as frequently. Consequently your child's stomach will not overfill, the food will be easier to digest and it is less likely that your baby will regurgitate the feed.

Stay Close to Your Baby

This Snug Baby Bouncer Will Hold Your Baby Upright When You Can't!

Have You Got a Colicky Baby? Take a Break Whenever You can!


Keep Your Baby Upright

Avoid placing your baby down to sleep straight after a feed. Not only is it better to hold your baby in an upright position during a feed, but afterwards too. Whenever possible, before nursing your child place a book or magazine next to you, play music, and have your phone at hand if you need to make calls. In that way you can enjoy a thirty minute break after a feed, holding your baby in an upright position,assisting digestion by allowing gravity to assist in preventing reflux.

What Else Can You Do to Soothe a Baby with Colic?

Although there are many things you can try there are simply no guarantees that any of them will work. Eventually the colic will stop. It may gradually disappear or one evening you may suddenly realize that your baby has stopped screaming on a daily basis. At this point you might like to hold your breath because the silence will not prevail. As every mother will tell you, there is always something, peace does not last for long, and all too often the lull is merely the calm before the storm. When it is peaceful though make the most of it. Even if you only manage to grab fifteen minutes during the day to give yourself a face mask, paint your nails and curl up with your favorite magazine—or read some HubPages—enjoy it; that way you will release the pent up emotions that all mothers feel. Above all remember it will gradually get easier and even the memory of your baby screaming daily with colic pains will fade away.


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