A colicky baby is different from your run-of-the-mill fussy baby. A baby with colic cries uncontrollably for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week. Sometimes a colicky baby will arch his back while crying or pull his knees up to his stomach. If you have a colicky baby, both of you need relief. Your baby is in distress and can’t soothe himself, but the incessant crying can cause the most patient mother to become distressed herself. Besides calling in reinforcements to give you a break, you can try some methods to give your baby some relief.
Take your colicky baby to the doctor to make sure the crying is not because of an illness or injury. Once you’ve ruled that out, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But, you still need to deal with the colic. Although the crying is not going to harm your baby, it is upsetting and stressful for everyone involved. And colic can last for several months. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, colic usually begins around 2 weeks of age and lasts until your baby is about 4 months old, but colic can last as long as six or even nine months.
Dr. Lisa Dana wrote in the BabyCenter that probiotics, the active cultures in yogurt that help fight bacteria in the intestinal tract could help with colic. However, you can’t give yogurt to a baby younger than 10 months. What you can do is discuss probiotics with your pediatrician. Dana says that probiotics are available over the counter and that you can give them to your baby using a dropper. You can also get a formula that contains a probiotic. It’s best to discuss these options with your doctor first.
If you breastfeed, something in your diet could be causing the discomfort in your baby. Some moms find that if they stop eating dairy products, the colic isn’t as bad. Spicy food could also be a culprit. Other foods that may cause your baby discomfort are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onions and caffeine. If you stop eating all those foods and your baby improves, you can start introducing the foods back, one at a time. If your baby gets colicky again, you have your answer, which means you have to avoid that food item until you stop breastfeeding or until your baby grows out of the colicky stage.
When your baby is crying, you can try soothing methods, such as walking her in a baby carrier next to your body, laying her tummy down across your legs while you massage her back, swaddling her or giving her a pacifier. Whatever you do, don’t shake your baby. That is child abuse. You can cause serious brain damage or even death if you shake a baby.
Karen Zeretzke, writing for the La Leche League, swears by the massages she gave her babies. Zeretzke says the massaging doesn’t work when the baby is in crying mode. You should massage during calmer times, maybe after a diaper change. Oil up your hands slightly. Leave the diaper loose. Place your baby on his back and, starting under his chin, rub your hand down your baby’s chest to the diaper area and around his belly. Repeat, using your other hand. Next, using your palm, massage in a circle around your baby’s belly button. The massages help remove any gas.