The sound of a crying baby is all too familiar to new parents, but in some cases, the cries are louder, more pitched, and it’s as if the baby is desperate to communicate that there’s something terribly wrong going on. The surprising news for those baffled parents is that there isn’t necessarily something wrong and your baby might just be one of every five newborns that suffer from colic!
What is Colic?
Colic is not necessarily a disease, but instead, it’s defined as a condition of inconsolable crying that begins around the second or third week of a newborn’s life. However, the colic cries really heighten around 6 to 8 weeks after birth. Sometimes crying is more than just crying, other signs of colic include the baby pulling up his knees, kicking, and clenching their fists. Overall, a baby with colic is a distressing sight, despite the fact that the baby might be completely healthy.
What Causes Colic?
A sound of a crying baby usually indicates an empty stomach, gas in the stomach, or a dirty diaper, but with cases of colic, fixing all of these factors doesn’t always prove successful, so what’s the reason behind colic? There are many theories as to why colic might arise in a healthy baby, including sensitivity to formula, something irritating in the mother’s diet that’s reaching the baby through breast milk, or even anxiety! While the theories behind colic, nobody has been able to pinpoint a definite cause and the reason for that is there might not be any. Colic is something that might simply come on its own and also disappear on its own, as most cases resolve by 4 months.
How To Cope with Colic?
Because colic doesn’t have a particular cause, it can’t exactly be ‘treated’ and there’s no specific remedy that fits all cases. However, there are things that might be done to decrease their frequency and make the colic episodes less extreme for babies:
Run to the Rescue In some cases, colic might just be the baby’s way of gaining attention, and in some cases, this attention and sense of communication might be something he needs to lessen his anxiety. A lot of parenting techniques advise leaving a baby when he’s crying in fear of ‘spoiling’ the child, but many researchers argue the opposite! Soothing and cuddling a crying newborn might in fact reduce the baby’s cries in the future, and promote a strong bond between the baby and his parents.
Utilize White Noise Instinctively, parents might attempt to create a dead-silent environment for their babies, believing that this will help soothe them better, but that’s actually far from the truth. In the womb, the baby is constantly exposed to sounds like the mother’s heartbeat and the blood pumping through the uterus, which is known as the uterine soufflé, which adds up to sounds louder than a vacuum cleaner! Using white noise recreates the comfortable atmosphere that the baby enjoyed in the womb and has been shown to have a soothing effect on babies. White noise does not only decrease the intensity of their colic but also helps them fall asleep and stay asleep for longer periods of time.
Get Moving The baby’s intrauterine life was not only loud; it was also filled with movement. Sometimes a newborn’s colic might be triggered by lying down immobile for long periods of time. It’s advised to try to gently rock a baby whether you’re holding them over your shoulder, moving their crib, or pushing them in their pram. Ever heard the tip of taking a baby on a car ride to make them fall asleep? It’s the same concept! Newborns find a sense of comfort in that gentle womb-like movement and it helps calm their colic cries down.
Reconsider Your Current Formula Because there’s a chance that an infant’s colic is caused by stomach problems, the formula that the baby’s feeding on might be the secret behind it. Many trials have found success in reducing colic by replacing the standard formula with one that contains hydrolyzed whey proteins and high beta palmitic acid content. Changing the standard formula with one containing hydrolyzed proteins means less gas production and indigestion, which might be the reason behind a newborn’s distress.
Swaddle The Baby Swaddling might look uncomfortable for adults, after all, it does look like a miniature-sized straitjacket. However, many studies have found that babies love it! Wrapping a warm blanket around a baby gives him the feeling of being back in the womb with all its warmth and sense of security, which might be all the baby needs to dry his tears. However, swaddling must be done carefully. A swaddled baby should always be placed on his back and swaddling shouldn’t be attempted in older babies who can roll over on their own.
Colic may be frustrating as there is no set cause to the symptoms, however by trying any or all of the above-mentioned tips, you’re sure to see some sort of relief for your newborn with colic.
Chelsea Meece is a Certified Holistic Health Coach who specializes in Self-Care and Boundary Setting. Outside of Coaching, she is a Freelance Writer who has been published internationally and a Backpacker of 8 Countries and over 1000+ Miles On-Trail.
Baby’s Got Colic and You Can’t Cope. (2000, September 23). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/baby-colic-cope
NHS website. (2021, November 18). Colic. Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/colic/
Cohen-Silver, J., & Ratnapalan, S. (2009). Management of Infantile Colic: A Review. Clinical Pediatrics, 48(1), 14–17.