Colic: Causes and Cures
You've fed him, changed him, and checked that he's not tired, hurt, or sick. And he's still wailing endlessly. What's wrong? It could be colic, which experts define as inconsolable crying that lasts at least three hours a day, more than three days a week, for about three weeks in a row. Colic usually kicks in when a baby is about 3 weeks old and almost universally goes away by 10 weeks.
No one knows for sure what's behind it. Some experts blame digestive problems; others think it's simply the result of an immature neurological system. All agree, however, that it's not a malady but simply a normal and predictable part of early development for many babies.
Here are some ways to calm those colicky cries:
- Respond right away. When your baby cries, go to her as soon as you can before she gets "worked up" and harder to soothe. Studies show that letting babies cry only enhances their wailing.
- Try motion. Rock him, put him in an infant swing, take him for a car ride, or place him in a stroller and push him -- even if it's only inside the house.
- Soothe with sound. Rhythmic white noise -- radio static, the hum of a fan -- can help calm your baby down. Some experts theorize that it mimics the swishing noises your baby heard while in the womb.
- Swaddle. When infants cry uncontrollably, their arms and legs may flail, upsetting them even further. Tightly wrapping your baby in a soft, lightweight blanket keeps his hands and feet close to his body and makes him feel safe, snug, and secure.
- Vary your technique. Try one calming strategy for about ten minutes, and if your baby is still crying, try another one for ten more minutes. And so on. Remind yourself that eventually he'll calm down.