Help for Colicky Babies
By Rebecca Geiger
It happens around the same time each day. Your sweet, smiling baby
starts fussing and crying, and as hard as you try there's nothing that
helps to soothe her. As her cries continue, you find yourself growing
frustrated and weary. What's wrong with your baby?
Relax. Take a deep breath.
wrong with baby is probably colic. Colic -- characterized by regular
periods of inconsolable crying or screaming, worsening in the late
afternoon and early evening -- can set in sometime between 2 and 4
weeks. It often stops as suddenly as it starts, with the baby falling
asleep, and will usually decrease with age, rarely extending beyond 4
or 5 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that colic occurs
in about 20 percent of all babies, and seems to happen more often in
bottle-fed, and first-borns. Many babies have regular fussy periods,
but with colic your baby seems truly in pain, extending or pulling up
her legs, and then passing gas which unfortunately provides no relief.
important to first find out if there's a medical reason for the crying,
such as a hernia or illness, so you need to consult your pediatrician
if your baby exhibits the above symptoms.
If a medical reason
is ruled out, your doctor might chalk it up to colic. While no one
really knows the cause, some experts believe colicky babies are
ultra-sensitive to stimulation. Others think colic stems from an
immature nervous or digestive system. If you and your pediatrician
suspect colic, try some of the following to help alleviate episodes of
pain and crying:
- If you're breast-feeding, your baby could be sensitive to something
in your diet. Try eliminating possible irritants including milk
products, caffeine, alcohol, onions, cruciferous vegetables, peanuts,
wheat, eggs, and seafood. If a food sensitivity is behind the crying,
the symptoms should decrease within a few days. You can slowly
reintroduce foods (waiting several days between each) to determine the
- Bottlefeeding moms can try a formula without cow's milk. It's
possible that your baby could have a milk allergy, though doctors say
colic is rarely caused by the milk protein in formula. If you're a
breastfeeding mom, you might consider replacing any cow's milk you
drink with a lactose-free soy milk.
- Steady, rhythmic motions and sounds can help soothe. Put your
baby in a carrier and just walk around -- the motion and body contact
are comforting. Try rocking her, or placing her where she can hear the
clothes dryer or vacuum. Some parents recommend taking a crier for a
drive, others recommend infant swings.
- Change her scenery. Just getting out of the house and giving
your baby something new to look at can do wonders. The new surroundings
might distract her enough to forget about her pain.
- Give her a pacifier. The sucking can sometimes help soothe.
- Lay your baby stomach down across your knees and lightly rub her back.
- Hum or sing a rhythmic, repetitive tune.
- Finally, learn to recognize when you're getting tense and you
need a break. If the crying seems overwhelming, put the baby in her
crib, and leave the room. Your partner or another caregiver can take
over. You never want to shake or punish a crying baby. Don't blame
yourself, but be willing to admit that you're angry or frustrated. And
remember that this too will pass just as quickly and mysteriously as it