All babies cry. It is their way of telling you something is wrong and they need a cuddle, changing, feeding, winding, warming up or cooling down. However there are one in five babies whom cry frequently for extended periods of time when they are otherwise healthy.
All babies cry. It is their way of telling you something is wrong and they need a cuddle, changing, feeding, winding, warming up or cooling down.
However there are one in five babies whom cry frequently for extended periods of time when they are otherwise healthy. When they have been examined by a health professional and any serious reasons for excessive crying have been ruled out they are given the diagnosis of colic.
Colic can be distressing to watch, makes parents feel helpless , causes worrying, and lack of sleep for baby and parents. This leads to tears, sleep deprivation, puts strains on relationships and lack of time to yourself, in serious cases can cause depression and resentment for the baby.
Please know this it is NOT your fault, it is not caused by anything you have or have not done.
It WILL get better!
The key is to look after yourself, put mechanisms into place to help you cope and have an armoury of soothing methods that can be used on a daily basis to ease the colic.
What Is Colic?
Colic is the name for excessive, frequent crying and/or fussing in a baby who is otherwise well. Episodes of intense crying tends to happen in the later afternoon / evening into the night. This can be for hours at a time.
Definition of excessive = crying for a total of 3 hours per day, for more than 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks.
Babies who have colic tend to also experience;
red / flushed faces when they cry
clench their fists
bring their knees up to their chests during crying episodes
arch their back during crying episodes
Do remember symptoms will vary from baby to baby.
When does it effect babies?
Colic can affect babies from just a few weeks old, lasting a few months and usually resolves around four months, however can in some cases last up to 6 months of age.
Boys and girls are equally affected by colic, as are bottle feed and breastfeed babies.
Why do babies get colic?
It is unclear as to why babies get colic or what causes it. When babies cry it can look like they are in pain but be reassured colic is not harmful, babies will continue to put on feed and put on weight.
It can however be distressing, frustrating and make you feel helpless.
Always ask your health visitor or GP for advice, this will help to rule out anything serious. Discuss babies symptoms, keep notes of the episodes of crying and feeds.
What can you do to help?
There is no cure for colic but there are methods you can try to reduce the amount of time baby cries for. It is normal to find that one of these methods work well one day and not so well the next. So have a list of methods to try, use as many as you need to each day, some need to be used everyday.
Babies with colic like to be held when they are crying.
Put baby in a sling to carry around and this will give you your hands free to do the jobs you need to do.
A warm bath can help calm baby.
Ensuring when breastfeeding baby is positioned and attached properly
When bottle feeding ensure baby is sitting as upright as possible and the teat is always filled with fluid and as little air as possible is allowed in.
No matter how baby feeds ensure you wind baby after each feed.
Gentle tummy massage can help
No matter how baby is feeding - feed on demand, as and when needed rather than trying to fit into a pattern at this stage.
Skin to skin - either parent can do this. Strip baby down to their nappy, parent strip their top off and cuddle with skin on skin. Make sure you stay warm by covering both of you up with a sheet or blanket.
Put baby in the car and go for a drive round - the movement can help sooth baby off to sleep
Put baby into the pram and go for a walk round the block
Reduce stimulation - turn the lights down and make sure sound is to a minimum
Sometimes white noise can help with reducing stimulation (hover, hair dryer, whale music etc)
Pharmaceutical treatments are available but research has shown these do not demonstrate any consistent benefits
When is it not normal?
If your baby has any persistent crying along with any of these symptoms YOU MUST SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ADVICE;
If the crying is high pitched or sounds abnormal
If baby vomits green fluid
If baby has blood in their poo
If baby takes much less fluid then usual or has much less wet nappies than usual
Seek medical advice from your GP, if GP is unavailable in the UK call 111.
Sooth & Survive
The key is to do what you can to try and sooth your baby's symptoms but at the same time look after yourself so you can cope. Talk to others, talk to your partner, share your feelings - good or bad. Remember to eat and drink regularly.
Friends and relatives will have lots of advice because they want to help you. Just say thank you and use it only if you want to.
If you do find you are struggling to cope (which is not unusual) seek help - this can be from a health professional, family member, close friend, or a private practitioner, who can offer a listening ear or take baby for you for a few hours so you can shower, eat, sleep, get some fresh air, or just have 5 minutes to yourself. Contact PBB Events Team for referrals to professionals who can help.