Colic in babies is when you hear a baby crying for hours on end. Hearing a crying baby, especially as the parent, can cause a lot of stress and worry. Luckily, there are many things you can do to manage and treat colic in babies.
Read on to find out about what colic is, symptoms of colic in babies, and how to cure a colic baby.
What is Colic?
Let’s face it: all babies cry. However, crying is a baby’s way of trying to tell you they need something or are distressed. Colic, however, is when a baby cries much more than usual for no apparent reason. A normal, healthy baby who cries incessantly when all apparent problems have been addressed is known as a colic baby. Colic is just the umbrella term for problem crying. It is not a symptom or disease, it’s just an unfortunate fact of life that one in five parents experience with their newborn child.
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Symptoms of Colic in Babies
It isn’t completely accurate to say that there are symptoms of colic, because it’s not a disease. However, there are certain things you can look out for as a parent. For example, a doctor will usually diagnose your baby as colic if their crying meets the three following conditions:
Number of hours: If there is colic in babies, they will cry for at least three hours at a time.
Number of days: If there is colic in babies, they will cry for more than three hours for at least three days out of seven.
Number of weeks: If there is colic in babies, the crying baby will continue this pattern for at least three weeks.
As well as these three rules, colic in babies can be recognized by noting the behavior of your crying baby. Here are a few other symptoms of colic in babies:
- The crying fits occur at the same time every day.
- It seems to happen for no reason: the baby is clean, fed, and comfortable.
- The baby may move around a lot and clench their fists; their crying seems to be out of general frustration.
- Conventional routines you have established will become disrupted by crying. In other words, the baby will be so upset they might sleep restlessly or reject food.
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How to Cure a Colic in babies
Well, because it isn’t actually a disease, there is no actual cure. Being a parent with a colic baby is a very stressful and upsetting time: it’s terrible to watch a young infant so upset without knowing what to do. However, don’t worry, as there are a number of tips that you can try that may ease their crying and soothe their discomfort:
- Lay him or her on their back in a dark, quiet room: this can help relax them and abate the crying.
- Use a pacifier: letting your colic baby suck on a pacifier gives them something to distract them and can be very effective.
- Swaddle the baby: Wrapping your baby all nice and snug in a cosy blanket can soothe their colic.
- Stay calm: a baby can pick up on your anxiety, so if you’re feeling emotionally stressed either ask your partner to tend to the baby or take a deep breath and wait a few minutes before going into the room. This isn’t cruel parenting: a baby with colic will cry for hours, so a couple of minutes isn’t going to make a difference.
- Try infant massage: massaging your baby can help soothe their symptoms. During the colic episodes, the baby’s stomach is often too rigid to be massaged as it tense up when they’re crying. Try to find a convenient time to do it consistently: for example, you could try massaging a little every time you change a diaper. There are actually specific massages that have been designed to help colic known as colic massages. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to give your baby a colic massage:
- Drizzle a bit of oil on your hands: enough to make your hands glide onto the baby’s skin, but not too much or you’ll make them all greasy.
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- If you prefer you can use a massage oil, but make sure it’s not overly-fragranced or it will irritate the baby’s skin. If your baby has sensitive skin there are a number of products you can use to ensure they get the best massage while also soothing their skin irritations. Any oil works well, particularly olive oil as it has moisturizing and healing benefits and is usually found in your cabinet!
- Undress your baby but leave the diaper on loosely. This is because the massage will relax them so much they may feel the need to pass more than gas! You might even need to insert a doubler into their diaper! Just kidding; but believe me, your baby will really enjoy the massage. There are mothers who say that colic massage saved their sanity: it really does help.
- Part one: the paddle-wheel: put one hand gently under the baby’s chin to support it and massage down from their neck right to the start of the diaper with the other: be gentle and smooth, but firm enough that you can feel the dip of the rib-cage when you massage it.
- Part two: Hold the baby’s ankles gently and massage around the leg area, also working to exercise their muscles by moving their legs around in different directions. Always follow official guidelines for massaging your babies. Colic massage is popular and you can easily find videos that demonstrate the moves much more eloquently than I can describe them! You can also help the baby do the bicycle riding motion by holding his legs and gently moving them in a circular motion. This is an additional massage technique that’s just for fun. They will love this!
- Part three: Circle around the belly button with your fingers in a clockwise motion. Your baby will think you’re playing around and tickling them, but really you’re helping them to be more comfortable which will reduce their bouts of colic.
- The entire massage should last for at least five minutes. Make sure to have fun with it, and stop when your arms get really tired. Both you and your baby will enjoy this experience: not only does it help their colic, it’s also great bonding time. You can even teach other family members the moves and you can all take turns massaging your baby!
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How Long Does Colic Last?
A baby with colic can be a devastating time for the mother and father of a colic baby. Some colic babies cry for up to eight hours a day. This is an emotionally and physically exhausting ordeal for both the newborn and their frantic parents. Thankfully, colic usually goes away after about six weeks. It either disappears immediately or gradually; every baby is different.
Having a baby with colic does not make you a bad parent: it is simply one of life’s mysterious occurrences. The best thing you can do is try your best to nurture your child through this difficult stage and lean on the support of your partner to help you get through it. Parenting is a wonderful thing, but there are times when it can be incredibly challenging. Just remember that in a couple of months’ time, the bumpy ride you experienced will be nothing more than a memory. You can do it!