Baby Talk: Calming the Colic Chaos

Colic is one ailment that seems rather nasty for a poor unsuspecting innocent little baby. Your newborn is so very delicate - what an introduction to this world! (Not to mention, a troubling introduction to parenthood as well!) For parents the world over, colic means staying awake till all hours trying desperately to console a seemingly inconsolable baby. The good news is that there are a few simple ways to help soothe your infant’s crying and discomfort …

Colic in a new baby usually begins between 0 and 3 months and is often the first of many heart-breaking moments experienced by new parents, who may be left feeling utterly helpless at the sight of their precious little one crying in discomfort and pain. While not all infants get it, and we are unsure what causes it, colic is a fairly common problem experienced in the first few months of life. While it can be a terribly frustrating time for you and baby – just remember that colic is a stage that will eventually pass. In just a few weeks, or months, you can be assured that your baby will be happier and sleeping better – as will you!

Colic is usually recognized when your well-fed, healthy and otherwise satisfied infant won’t stop crying. You’ve changed and checked and re-checked nappies for rash, offered milk, burped and cuddled your baby and still the crying continues for no evident reason at all. While all babies cry (as it is their only means of communication), babies with colic cry much more than usual, and when they cry it seems that little can console them. Colic is usually diagnosed or confirmed if your baby cries more than three hours each day over a period of three weeks or more and no other cause is found.

The DO’S and DON’TS of Handling Colic:
DO:

  • Consider eliminating milk products, eggs, wheat, nuts and berries from your diet if you are breastfeeding as this can provide some relief from colic. You can also restrict very acidic foods, spicy foods and caffeine and keep your diet fairly bland. It’s also a good idea to start a food diary and begin by eliminating all problem foods. You can then slowly start to re-introduce them into your diet while noting baby’s colic reaction.
  • Drink herbal teas such as chamomile, vervain and lemon balm instead of your usual tea or coffee as these have a soothing effect on both mother and breastfed baby.
  • Make sure that your baby is not swallowing air while feeding as this can result in wind and increases discomfort
  • Try experiment with a few simple feeding changes and see if you notice any changes:
  1. Try feeding your baby more frequent smaller feeds every 2-3 hours.
  2. If your baby is bottle fed ensure that the nipple size and shape is correct for your baby’s age.
  3. If your baby takes less than 20 minutes to complete a feed, you may need to swap over to a smaller bottle nipple.
  4. Talk to your paediatrician about changing to a hypoallergenic formula.
  5. While feeding, always ensure that your baby is in a diagonal position with her head higher than her feet.
  6. Always burp baby frequently. This can be done every 10min of breastfeeding and every 30 to 60ml of bottle-feeding.

DON'T:

  • Don’t stop breastfeeding. Colic is equally likely to occur in both breastfed and bottle-fed babies.
  • Don’t switch and swap your baby’s formula brand. If you are considering changing to a new brand, speak to your paediatrician first.
  • Don’t hesitate to call your paediatrician if you are concerned. In some cases where colic is assumed, it turns out there were other medical reasons for the crying such as an ear infection or food allergy that may need to be dealt with.
  • Don’t wait until you have reached the point of desperation before asking someone for help. Accept babysitting offers and look after yourself. If ever you feel like hurting or shaking your baby, simply put him in a safe place (e.g. the crib) and leave the room for a few minutes while you gather your composure – then call someone to relieve you of baby duty for an hour or two.

When your baby has colic you may find that suddenly everyone has the answer and somehow everyone has a grandmother whose grandmother concocted a miracle remedy for colic – which has been passed along from mother to daughter ever since! Many pharmacists and physicians are also quick to recommend a myriad of medications to ease colic. While this may be an option you are looking at, remember to check for any possible side-effects and ensure that the medication is age appropriate. Alternative therapies for colic include chiropractic therapy, acupuncture and herbal or homeopathic remedies. Note however that not all therapies and remedies are effective, and some may even be dangerous for such little ones. What ever the advice you receive remember that you know your baby best and don’t get too caught up or irritated with all the opinions that may fly your way - just take what may seem useful, and brush off the rest.

A holistic approach to coping with colic

1. Colic is a frustrating time for you and your baby and while it goes away eventually, it is always a relief to know that nature has all the ingredients to provide much needed relief. Colic Calmer is a homeopathic remedy that naturally relieves symptoms of infant colic and promotes sleep. Containing Chamomilla and Mag. Phos. this remedy provides natural relief from gas and bothersome colic-related fretfulness, soothing tiny tummies and promoting peaceful sleep. Best of all, the gentle formulation is safe – even for newborn infants, helping your baby (and you!) rest peacefully after mealtimes.

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2. The next best thing to help baby cope with colic is sleep. Colic is stressful for your little one and because this is an important stage of growth and development in your baby’s life, sleep is very important! Colic interrupts this peaceful sleep and as a result your child is exhausted on top of feeling colicky, which just adds insult to injury as babies become over-tired and even more fretful. Sleepy Sprinkles addresses just this problem. This homeopathic remedy has been specifically formulated to help baby sleep, safely with NO sedatives. Triple Complex Sleep Tonic is a perfect solution for both pregnant woman and breastfeeding women (without sedatives and synthetic tranquilizers. Once baby is a more rested, you should notice a decrease in discomfort and fussiness. To enhance this it is a good idea to keep baby relaxed and calm during waking periods or at least one hour before sleep time. Play peaceful music and talk in soft tones, keeping lights dim and activity to a minimum.

3. Baby massage is also an extremely relaxing activity that can be enjoyed by both baby and you! Choose a quiet, comfortable and warm area that is relatively free of other stimulation and distractions. Lay baby on his or her back on a firm, but comfortable surface such as a bed or changing table, making sure that baby is comfortable. For massage oil, the best choices are organic aromatherapy oils that do not contain preservatives or additives. (Watch out for commercially produced mineral-type baby oils. They tend to have a non-organic, non-food petroleum base that is not the best choice). Infant Massage Oil contains only 100% therapeutic grade almond oil, specifically formulated for babies from birth to the age of 12 weeks (babies older than 12 weeks use Blissful Baby Massage Oil. Perfectly safe and gentle enough for sensitive newborn skins, this natural oil can provide therapeutic benefits as the oil warms with each soothing rub – helping parents to easily achieve the perfect loving touch. Massaging specifically around the abdominal area will also provide much needed comfort to soothe colic cramps.

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Lastly, it is important take care of yourself and your own needs! Make sure you get some rest so that you can be a supportive comfort to your baby, and take advantage of the moments when your little one is asleep!

Tips on soothing a colicky baby


Motion tends to help with colic so try different ways of keeping your baby moving. Rocking in a cradle or rocking chair is effective, as is simply walking with your baby or bouncing him gently in your arms. Other useful methods are to take your baby for a drive in the car, or to hold her on top of a running dishwasher or washing machine as the bouncing vibrations are relaxing. Experiment with different motion methods and alternate between the ones you find work best.

  • Wrap a warm water bottle (not hot) in a towel and place on your baby’s stomach to help soothe the cramps.
  • Provide a pacifier (dummy) as the sucking motion is comforting and soothing to infants.
  • Gently rub your baby’s stomach or give her a relaxing baby massage with soothing oils. Baby massage with specialized “baby-safe” aromatherapy oils can be wonderfully calming and soothing to a colicky baby and it allows for a quiet bonding moment between mother and child. When massaging your infant, use slow, soft and gentle strokes. Remember to listen to and watch your baby's reactions and respond accordingly.
  • If your baby can support his own head, then try putting him in a wind-up swing.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Swaddle your baby in a soft blanket and hold her close. Alternatively, try the “kangaroo method” of skin-to-skin contact by wrapping your baby against your bare skin. This is the most natural position for baby and can be very soothing for distressed babies.
  • Sing and talk gently to your baby. Your voice is a comfort as well as a much-needed distraction from the discomfort of colic.
  • Increase steady background noise. A relaxing CD, the hum of electrical appliances, a ticking clock or a steady “shhh” sound can be relaxing.

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