Caring for a Colicky Baby

by April Reinhardt
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Most newborn babies have bouts of fussiness, but if your baby cries or screams for hours each day, your baby may have colic. Defined as inconsolable and excessive crying, not attributable to an obvious cause, colic affects nearly one out of five newborns. Doctors speculate that colic stems from abdominal pain starting at about two weeks of age, lasting through three months.

When colicky babies cry, they may draw up their legs and arms towards their bodies, stretch out and stiffen, then draw inward again. They cry for more than three hours a day, and may turn red from crying. Observe your baby and learn to recognize the symptoms of colic so that your may discuss treatment with your pediatrician. Here are some things you can do to recognize symptoms of colic:

  • Determine if there is a reasonable explanation for the crying, such as injury, hunger, or diaper change. Colicky babies usually cry for no apparent reason.
  • Recognize crying patterns. If your baby cries for long periods at the dame time or night or day, right after feeding, or at the onset of evening, then those are indicators of colic.
  • Observe if the crying stops just after your baby passes gas or has a bowel movement, as this is very common with a colicky baby.

Once you and your pediatrician have determined that your baby has colic, follow the advice of the doctor first. Yet, also know that there are a few remedies that you can try at home to ease your baby's colic symptoms. You can establish soothing techniques and feeding changes:

  • Put your baby in a car seat or infant carrier and place it on top of a washing machine or dryer. The vibrations of the machine will soothe your baby. Or put your baby in a stroller and take a walk around the block, or place him in a baby swing. The gentle motions can soothe your baby.
  • Place your baby face down on your lap and rub his back, then turn him over and rub his tummy in slow circular motions.
  • Since babies have a strong suck reflex, provide him with a pacifier to sooth him.
  • If you breastfeed, avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and beans. Observe any changes in the colic after you eliminate foods in your own diet that may cause problems for your baby.

Although colic and the hours of crying can be frustrating for you, crying will not hurt your baby. If you feel that you are frustrated to the point of anger, find someone else to watch your baby so that you can take a break and calm down. Never shake your baby. If you feel overwhelmed, get help and do not take your frustrations out on your baby.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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