If you think your baby might be colicky, the first thing to do is be sure she actually is. Though the condition’s origins are kind of fuzzy, colic’s symptoms are well defined: colic is characterized by crying in a baby that lasts at least 3 hours per day, 3 days per week, for at least 3 weeks. Usually, the crying begins at the same time each day, and has to do with indigestion. While the behavior can be a great stressor on babies and parents alike, there are a few things you can do to get through your baby’s colicky phase.
Avoid Possible Triggers
Pay attention to your baby’s behavior, and try to figure out if anything in particular triggers colicky fits. The wrong formula could set some babies off. The mother’s diet can, too, if the baby is breastfeeding: stimulants and dairy products in particular can spark allergic reactions in infants. Two other possible colic triggers are overfeeding and medicine passed to the baby through breast milk. To see if any of these are the culprit, try switching baby formulas, your own diet, and the amount of milk your baby takes in during one feeding. Make sure to ask your doctor if any medications you’re taking could be upsetting your infant.
Give Your Baby Gripe Water
Gripe Water may help reduce your baby’s discomfort. It’s an all-natural supplement that both provides relief from gas and helps reduce fussiness. Pediatrician-recommended, Gripe Water contains no gluten, starch, or dairy, and is 100% vegetarian and vegan. It does contain organic ginger and fennel, two ingredients that can soothe the digestive system.
Try Sound and Motion
Movement and soft noise may help calm colicky babies down. Gently carrying your baby around, sitting with him in a rocking chair, or pushing him in a stroller can all help. Likewise, benign and consistent sounds—from sources like white-noise machines, fans, or dryers—may also comfort colic-stricken infants.
Use Sleep Patterns
Don’t forget an often-overlooked tactic in the fight against colic: making sure your baby has a consistent bedtime. Though babies aren’t likely to put up with an overly constrictive sleeping routine, putting them in a dark, soothing room at the same time every night can create a calming routine. Overly long naps—lasting longer than three hours—during the day can disrupt sleep at night, so consider cutting back on your baby’s nap time to improve her overall quality of rest.
Though it can be a challenge, one of the best ways to calm your baby down and get through colicky fits is to stay calm yourself. Babies mimic their parents’ moods, and a parent’s stress can exacerbate a baby’s. So make sure you get enough rest to keep yourself in good spirits. Consider recruiting a sitter or family member to watch the baby for awhile, giving yourself a break. Even stepping away for just a few minutes can help both you and your baby. And any time you’re feeling truly overwhelmed, just remember that all babies get over colic eventually, usually by 4 months of age.
For more information, visit our Gas & Colic page.