Handling Baby's Colic

How to Soothe Baby

Because we don't know the exact cause of colic, it's one of the most difficult conditions to treat. What we do know is that conventional medications can't "cure" colic. Anti-gas medications, antacid medications, medicines designed to soothe irritable tummies, and pain medication all have no role in managing a baby with colic. The same is true for dietary modifications. Because less than 10 percent of colic cases can be linked to food allergies, attempts to change formulas or ask nursing mothers to not eat potentially allergenic foods are usually fruitless and often only add to the already high level of exhaustion and frustration felt by parents.

There are a couple of approaches you can use that appear to be somewhat helpful. Past research that looked at the crying patterns of babies within various cultures where babies almost exclusively spend the day in a papoose worn by their mother has found that babies who are held and carried more by their caregivers during the daytime hours cry less at night. Now that baby carriers have become trendier, we're seeing the positive effects here as well. Holding your baby more during the day, before they become fussy, seems to curb their appetite for crying in the evenings.

To me, as the mother of a colicky baby, this seemed almost counterintuitive at the time, as my daughter's few quiet times during the day seemed like opportune times to put her down and get some housework done, or better yet, get a well-deserved nap. However, based on the advice of my pediatrician (yes, even the child of a pediatrician has her own doctor), I gave it a try, and the results were surprising. My method certainly wasn't scientific. I simply went about my day and tried to either hold her or place her in her infant carrier while I vacuumed, did laundry, and prepared meals. I loved the closeness, and she definitely seemed to be a calmer baby, not just during the day, but in the evening hours as well. To this day, baby carriers are my favorite gifts to give at showers and the number one piece of baby gear that I always recommend to parents in my practice.

Mimic the Womb

Another method of managing colic is to "mimic the womb." This means creating environmental surroundings that make your baby feel like he's still incubating inside you. This can include "white" background noise, such as making a "shushing" sound or running a vacuum cleaner. It can also include re-creating the movement that he felt while he was inside you. Before he was born, he went for walks, changed positions frequently throughout the day, maybe even did prenatal yoga or aerobics. Use things like infant swings or gently bumpy rides in a stroller for varied movement.

In addition, re-creating the prenatal environment may include the soothing effects of water. He was "swimming" in a soothing bath of fluid for nine months, so he may enjoy the calming effects of a warm bath. I had one mother use this technique 20 times a day. She knew that whenever her daughter began having a crying spell, putting her in a baby tub with warm water would calm her every time. She swore she had the cleanest baby on the block!

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