Colic Facts

Help Baby Suck

Sucking Satisfaction. Babies have a strong sucking urge in the first few months of life, and satisfying that urge can quickly calm a fretful infant. Many parents rely on pacifiers for this purpose, but it's probably better to encourage your child to suck his thumb instead. Thumb sucking, like using a pacifier, is a habit that babies can use to calm themselves-and the capacity to self-comfort is a great achievement. Also, pacifiers (unlike thumbs) can fall out of your child's reach, and you might find yourself having to run to the crib every time it drops out.Another pacifier danger that should not be underestimated: Too often, parents use them as a crutch to quiet the baby, without attempting to discover what may be upsetting him.

Like thumb sucking, pacifier use can temporarily distort your child's mouth, but this can be minimized with an orthodontic pacifier. And with both types of sucking, early distortion usually corrects itself if the habit is broken before permanent teeth appear.

Until thumbs become available when their grips loosen at about 8 to 10 weeks, newborns suck on their wrists, then on their fists or on the back of their hands. To help your baby suck, don't swaddle her hands and keep her nails trimmed. If she's struggling to find her hands, you can gently help her, but don't force it.

Crying is your baby's way of telling you that he needs something. Answering his call assures him that he is important to you and builds trust between the two of you. Studies show that babies who are responded to promptly in the early months of life develop into more confident youngsters. Promptly soothing is always practical because the longer a baby is left alone to cry, the more intense the crying will become and the more difficult it will be to calm him down again.

Whether your baby has true colic or simply relieves tension with mournful, heartfelt wails, these tried-and-true soothers can usually be some help:

If you readily respond to your infant's cries-by offering her your breast or a bottle, a nap, a fresh diaper, or some extra cuddling time, for example-yet she continues to cry, try not to be alarmed. Four out of five babies this age have crying jags daily that last 15 minutes to an hour-and these are not easily explained. The extra household activity that typically occurs around dinnertime might be the cause, since overstimulation is very stressful for babies. Some young infants also routinely cry themselves to sleep, most likely because they become overly tired.

Tools For Learning

Crib Mirrors
Beginning at about 6 or 7 weeks of age, many babies develop a fascination with mirrors. This isn't an early case of vanity-infants just love to look at faces, and their own has the delightful quality of moving and staying when they do. You can purchase a specially designed crib mirror, or fasten one of your own to the side of the your baby's crib. It should be made out of stainless steel or acrylic (but never out of glass) and ideally, be four to six inches wide. Your little one will enjoy it most when no more than seven inches from her face.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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