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Colic survival guide (for parents of colicky babies)

Coping with colic can be a challenging experience for new parents. This colic survival guide provides practical tips to help parents navigate this difficult period.

Becoming a new parent is one of the most joyful and rewarding experiences one can have. But it can also be overwhelming, especially when faced with the challenge of a colicky baby. It’s normal for parents of colicky babies to experience feelings of helplessness, frustration, and exhaustion. But these feelings can take a toll on their physical and mental health.

From soothing techniques to self-care practices, here are some tips to help parents out.

What is colic?

Colic is severe abdominal pain that occurs in babies during the first few months of life. This common condition affects up to one in five infants in the US. The exact cause of colic is not clear, but it typically goes away by the time the infant is three to four months of age.

Symptoms of colic

Colic symptoms in infants include intense crying or fussiness, especially in the evening or night, clenched fists, and flexed legs. The crying episodes can last for several hours a day and may be accompanied by difficulty sleeping or feeding.

Tips for handling a colicky baby

Certain triggers can cause colic. But there are steps you can take to avoid these triggers. There are also things you can try to help soothe and calm your baby.

Feeding your baby

If you’re giving your baby formula:

  • Feed your baby smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Avoid overfeeding or feeding your baby too quickly. A bottle feeding should last approximately 20 minutes. If your baby feeds more quickly, use a nipple with a smaller hole. 
  • Warm the formula up to body temperature.
  • Feed your child in an upright position.

Holding your child

Colicky babies can sometimes respond well to different ways of holding or rocking.

  • Massage your baby’s back while holding them across your arm or lap.
  • If your baby has gas, keep them upright.
  • In the evening, hold your baby more often.
  • Hold your baby and walk around the house.
  • Rock your infant gently in your arms or with an infant swing.

Providing comfort to your child

To calm your baby, try these movements and stimuli.

  • Initiate skin-to-skin contact more frequently.
  • Swaddle your child with a blanket.
  • Sing to your child.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Massage your child. Consult your doctor for recommendations.
  • Provide white noise, such as a fan or dishwasher.
  • Give your baby a pacifier.
  • Put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk or go for a drive with your baby in their car seat.

Survival tips for parents

Having a colicky baby can be incredibly stressful for parents. It can be difficult to soothe a crying, fussy baby for extended periods. Here are some strategies that parents can use to help avoid stress when dealing with a colicky baby:

Take breaks

When your baby is crying non-stop, it can be very frustrating. Take a few minutes to step away and take some deep breaths. Ask a partner, friend, or family member to take over for a few minutes so you can get some much-needed rest or time to yourself.

Practice self-care

Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. Get enough sleep, eat well, and take some time for yourself when you can. This will help you feel better equipped to handle the challenges of caring for a colicky baby.

Join a support group

Joining a support group can help you feel less isolated. It allows you to talk with other parents going through similar experiences. You can join a local support group or an online group to connect with other parents.

Try different soothing techniques

Experiment with different soothing techniques to see what works best for your baby. Some babies may respond well to gentle rocking or swaying, while others may prefer a pacifier or a white noise machine.

Always handle babies gently and never shake them, no matter how frustrated or exhausted you feel. Shaking a baby can cause serious medical problems, like brain damage.

Seek professional help

If your baby’s colic is causing you distress or making it hard to care for your baby, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Your doctor can offer more guidance and support.

The following are some things to remember about colic:

  • Colic is common in babies.
  • You did not cause the colic, so try not to feel bad or guilty about it.
  • Colic doesn’t mean your baby is unhealthy. Most babies continue growing and gaining weight the way they should.
  • Giving your baby special attention, such as holding them for long periods of time, will not spoil them.

You’ve got this!

In conclusion, soothing a colicky baby can be a daunting and exhausting task for parents. However, it’s important to understand that it’s a common phase most babies go through and will eventually pass.

Know that you are doing your best to comfort your baby, and with time, things will get easier. Hang in there. And before you know it, your little one will be smiling and cooing away.


Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered, construed or interpreted as legal or professional advice, guidance or opinion.

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