Having an uncomfortable and fussy baby is no fun for anyone.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can help soothe your colicky baby, although it may take some trial and error.
Before you start treating colic, however, check with your baby’s pediatrician and keep in mind the actual definition of baby colic:
“Think of the rule of 3. If your baby cries for 3 hours a day, for at least 3 days a week, for 3 consecutive weeks, this would qualify as baby colic.” // MamaNatural.com
You should also know there is no medical consensus on what colic is or what causes it.
According to WebMD, “colic is a bit of a mystery” and “colic’s exact cause is unknown.”
However, Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the bestselling book missing fourth trimester.”
Regarding the cultures where colic is absent, he writes:
“The parents in these cultures imitate the womb for the baby all day long with constant holding and rocking and frequent nursing.” // DrDeFranca.com
So before you start treating colic, consider giving Baby the experience of the external womb for their first three months. If Baby is still crying inconsolably despite your best efforts to establish a fourth trimester, here are some suggestions that may help.
1. Talk to Baby’s Doctor
One of the first things you can do is ask your child’s doctor what he or she would recommend. This may sound like a no-brainer, but parents sometimes struggle through things unnecessarily. A doctor may be able to help and you want to make sure it’s not baby reflux, which can mimic colicky symptoms.
2. Talk to an IBCLC-Certified Lactation Consultant!
If you’re breastfeeding, it could be feeding, supply, and/or anatomical issues causing your tiny baby so much discomfort. Baby could have a bad latch, a tongue-tie, or a lip-tie. You could have an oversupply that’s upsetting Baby’s tummy or stressing her out. Whatever it is, pediatricians are not trained to spot lactation issues. They don’t specialize in lactation as certified lactation consultants do! Check out IBLCE.org to find a consultant near you.
3. Try a Different Formula
If you’re formula-feeding instead of breastfeeding, try switching formulas. An ingredient in the formula could be the cause of your colicky baby.
4. Track Fussy Times and an Elimination Diet
If you begin to track when your baby gets fussy, you may be able to correlate it with certain foods you’re eating and that are passing through your breastmilk and irritating your colicky baby. Use a pen and paper, a whiteboard, or an app on your phone…whatever it takes. Then eliminate any suspect foods to see if it helps.
5. Walk Baby
Movement and fresh air could be all Baby needs. Getting outside and exercising a bit will also release happy endorphins for you and may give you some relief from the stress of caring for a colicky baby.
6. Try White noise
A white noise machine or white noise app on your phone can be used to calm baby and soothe her back to sleep. You may not know this, but your womb was surprisingly noisy! Baby may just be stressed out without the sound of the womb soothing her growing brain.
7. Keep Baby With You
You may feel like you need a break from the baby when he or she is colicky, but try wearing Baby with a wrap. Getting baby in a new position on your front can help relieve the gasses her tummy (if that’s what’s causing her fussiness), and having her close to your heart is soothing. Hearing your heartbeat as she did in the womb can soothe and calm her.
8. Let Baby Suck
Most babies “have very powerful sucking reflux that needs to be satiated.” (source) Let Baby nurse as much as she likes or guide her to suck on her own hand. This can be very soothing. You can also try a natural pacifier or clean pinkie.
9. Try Massage
A good tummy massage can help baby pass any irritating gasses and soothe her to sleep. You can also practice this at feeding times to prevent gas-induced colic.
10. Try Digestive Aids
There are a variety of over-the-counter, natural digestive aids that may soothe your colicky baby. Here are a few popular options:
You can also ask your pediatrician about probiotics.
Just like every adult, every baby is different. We know it’s stressful, Momma! Just keep reminding yourself – it’s only temporary. Your colicky baby won’t be a baby for very long!
If you want to learn more about Dr. Karp’s approach to colic, click here.