Identifying Colic and How to Soothe your Baby

mom holding crying baby

Colic can affect 1 in 5 infants in their first few months of life. It is identified by an onset of scream-like crying and what seems like abdominal pain in young infancy. Crying when there’s no obvious cause is a common problem when a baby has colic and it can be hard to identify what the actual issue is. In order to rule out hunger, a wet diaper or tiredness, a baby with colic usually cries for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for at least 1 week. They may cry mostly after meals or in the afternoon and evening, rather than the morning. It’s usually quite hard to soothe or settle your baby if they have colic, so it is important to be patient.

Common signs of a baby suffering from colic include: clenching their fists tightly, crying until they are red in the face, bringing their knees up to their tummy or arching their back, throwing their head back and curling up again, and winded cries that sound like they’re coming from the tummy. If any of the above symptoms occur, take your baby to see your GP or health advisor as they will then be able to diagnose whether they have colic or whether it could be other issues such as food allergies or sensitivities. These symptoms could also be signs of discomfort if they are too hot or too cold, hunger or weakness, pain from an illness or injury, or acid reflux.

mum feeding anti colic bottle to baby

It’s important to know when to call your doctor. Signs that you should definitely take a trip to the pediatrician include: inability to be soothed, weakened latching or sucking during feeding, aversion to being held or touched, unusual crying or sounds of pain, diarrhea or bloody stools, trouble breathing, a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or throwing up more frequently while eating less. If you have any doubts about whether or not to go, you should just go. Better safe than sorry, especially when your baby could be very sick.

It’s quite difficult to know exactly how to treat Colic, until the reason they have it is identified. You can lessen the chance of your baby developing it by using anti-colic bottles. To help soothe your baby there are a number of things you can do when they have colic:

  • Hold or cuddle your baby when they are crying
  • Sit or hold your baby upright whilst feeding to stop them from swallowing air
  • Burp your baby after feeds
  • Gently rock your baby over your shoulder
  • Gently rock your baby in their bassinet or crib or push them in their stroller to encourage burps
  • Bathe your baby in warm water
  • Have some gentle white noise like the TV or radio on in the background to distract them
  • Keep feeding your baby as normal

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You can also buy some anti-colic drops and herbal probiotic supplements from pharmacies, make changes to your diet if you’re breastfeeding such as cutting out dairy or applying gentle pressure to your baby’s spine or skull (cranial osteopathy). You can take your newborn to an osteopath for this too if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.

Speak to your GP or health advisor if you have any doubts, queries or concerns about colic and how to soothe your baby. You may also want to find out as much information as you can before it becomes an issue, so you can be better prepared and more astute to the warning signs.

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