Let’s talk about Baby Colic Pain
It’s normal for newborns and infants to cry, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to listen to. I’m used to listening to babies cry all day long at home, at my practice, and in the emergency room.
I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it and hearing my own kids crying really pulls at my heartstrings. Many parents ask at their 1- or 2-month visit about incessant crying.
It can be tiring and painful for new parents to hear their babies cry, especially when they can’t figure out what baby needs. The baby seems to be distressed for no apparent reason, and nothing you try seems to help.
Is the baby hungry?
Is he tired?
Is he uncomfortable with something?
Is he in pain?
Is he allergic to something you ate in your milk?
Does he have reflux?
Your little one can’t express himself or herself verbally yet, so you will need to figure out what type of crying means and try different remedies.
What is Colic Exactly?
Colic is the word used to describe a baby crying for over 3 hours a day, more than three days per week, for more than three weeks in a row. This isn’t much of a definition since babies can cry for all kinds of reasons.
Colic is common in babies, and every year about 15% of newborns are born with it.
Typically a baby will fuss the most between 4 to 8 weeks, which should decrease as time goes on. Even without any treatment or remedies, the amount of crying should decrease naturally over time.
This doesn’t make it any easier for a new parent, though. It’s natural to want your baby to be happy rather than screaming, and it can be frustrating not knowing how to soothe your little one.
Colicky babies often cry within the same few hours each day, typically during the evening. They might seem to be in pain, but we can’t usually find anything wrong.
How to Treat a Baby with Colic
I’ve lost count of how many parents ask me the best way to soothe a colicky baby, but unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. If anyone does come up with one, I think they’d win the next Nobel Prize!
One article in the respected Pediatrics Journal showed there isn’t one individual natural medicine that can soothe colic every time in every baby. Some remedies might work for some babies, while others might work for other ones. There are still some good tips you can try.
I’ve been through colicky periods with my children, and I know many colic tips are trial and error. Some might work for one baby but not another or work one day but not the next.
Why Do Babies Cry with Colic?
In my opinion, babies between 4 and 8 weeks of age are similar to fourth-trimester babies in the way they want to feel safe and secure in the womb again.
This includes feeling tightly swaddled, cradled, or held with soft sounds and gentle movements. First of all, check these four things:
• Hunger causes crying, so make sure baby is well fed.
• Make sure the diaper is clean and dry.
• Check baby is dressed for the climate and isn’t too cold or hot.
• Gas pains can be painful for baby so try to burp them and keep them upright after a feed (to prevent them from swallowing air).
I’m sure you’ve already tried those solutions, but they’re still the top four reasons baby might be crying.
Let’s look at some other complementary health remedies which work on some babies with colic.
There has been some doubt about how safe white noise is, but I don’t see how a few minutes of white noise (ocean waves or running water, for example) could be harmful. Some parents like to use sound machines to soothe their babies.
Your baby experienced movement when you were pregnant. From walking and doing chores to simply lying down, blood flow from your heart meant baby was shaking all the time gently and got used to this sensation.
A lot of babies enjoy this type of movement outside the womb and find it calming. My kids loved a vibrating swing, so you might like to try a vibrating chair and see if your baby likes it.
This is another topic not everyone agrees on. The startle reflex (Moro reflex) often wakes babies from sleep, which is why I like swaddling.
If you want to try, your baby should be on his or her back with no pillows, blanket, toys, or fabric near their face. To minimize the risk of suffocation, only swaddle from the shoulders down.
Soothers and Pacifiers
Babies will suck to soothe themselves. If your baby is drinking well from the breast and steadily gaining weight, introducing a pacifier can be helpful. There are some pacifier use tips to check out first.
Over the Counter Colic Remedies – Colic baby drops
Ovol (Simethicone) and Gripe Water are popular colic remedies. Although there isn’t much clinical evidence these are effective, they don’t seem to cause any harm, and some parents swear by them.
Take a Breather
It’s essential to take a break whenever you can. Maybe a family member or friend can watch the baby if you need a breather. Even a short stroll outside, a warm bath, or a brief nap can be much appreciated by an overtired parent.
It’s normal for parents to experience sleep deprivation as well as missing out on socializing and exercise. This can make you feel drained and emotional. Some ‘me’ time is vital for frazzled parents!
See Your Doctor
If you’re worried there is more to your baby’s crying, make an appointment with your doctor. Reflux (heartburn), food intolerance, and bladder infections are just some medical problems that can cause excessive crying.
If the above tips don’t seem to work, it’s best to check there isn’t a medical reason behind the colic.
It’s a fact that colic can be hard to treat, so I recommend a trial and error approach. Colic invariably goes away with time. You just need to be patient.
If you still have questions or concerns about your baby’s crying, it’s best to talk with your doctor.
You might also be interested in finding out how much sleep your baby needs.
My most asked questions about baby Colic
What is colic?
Colic is diagnosed in babies who cry more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than three weeks.
What is the most common cause of colic?
We don’t often find a reason why some babies cry excessively. A fussy baby may be hungry, tired, or wet.
How can I help my baby with colic pain?
Some strategies can help a baby with colic. Babies are used to movement when in the womb and are in a tight environment. Consider using movement and swaddling to help soothe your baby. Some babies like to suck on a soother or pacifier, and others respond well to colic baby drops.
My baby has colic, and I am overwhelmed. What can I do?
Take a breather! Enlist your village to take a break from your baby if possible. Catch up with friends or partner, go for a walk, or take a nap. Hearing your baby cry all the time can be tiring and stressful. You need some respite too.