By Lisa Mills
Firstly we need to establish what the term ‘colic’ means. Colic is the term given to the build up of gases in babies causing pain and discomfort. It is not an illness or a serious medical condition; it is however, very draining for both mother and baby.
The main symptom of colic is usually constant crying for no apparent reason. For example your baby won’t be hungry, need their nappy changed or have a temperature, they will not want to be laid down, sat up, played with or left alone. Nothing you do will ease their crying. Most babies have a colicky time of day, which is usually in the afternoon or early evening. The good news is that colic normally passes by the age of 3-4 months.
Below you will find some top tips which we as a family have utilized to great effect.
Don’t shake your baby’s bottles. When making your baby’s bottles swill the bottle gently to mix the milk and powder instead of shaking it. Shaking the bottle just causes more bubbles, which may lead to colic later.
Get the best bottles you can afford. There are companies that make bottles that claim to ease or prevent colic in babies. If you can afford to, try many different bottles to see which ones work better for you and then use them religiously.
Get a good colic treatment. There are many colic treatments out there. All babies are different and what one parent recommends may not work for your baby. Just keep trying different remedies and see which one works best with your infant.
Feed your baby in an upright position. Most parents’ position their baby lying on their backs with their heads propped up on their arm for their bottle-feeds. Try to keep your baby as upright as possible without making them uncomfortable. You are aiming for their back and head to be in a straight line with an imaginary ping-pong ball between their chin and chest. If you picture a long necked bottle and now imagine a kink in the neck of the bottle you can see how easy it is to trap wind inside.
Patting is better than rubbing. If you picture your long necked bottle full of a fizzy drink with bubbles attached to the insides then begin to rub the bottle on the outside, what happens to the bubbles on the inside? Nothing? Exactly. We have a tendency to rub our babies backs to bring up wind rather that patting them. Rubbing their backs is soothing for mother and baby but does little to bring up their wind. Patting will help to move the air bubbles and will eventually release their wind.
Hold on to your baby. Once the feeding and winding is over and done with and your baby looks content you may be tempted to lay them down. Don’t! Try to keep your baby in an upright position for around 20 minutes after a feed, even if they are asleep. This will help them release wind naturally without any intervention.
Don’t lay them flat. When you do lay your baby down to sleep try to ensure they don’t lay flat. If they sleep in a cot, put something under the head end of the cot mattress to raise it slightly. Make sure you don’t raise it too much as your baby may slide down the mattress and disappear under the covers. A baby bouncer with an adjustable seat angle is ideal for sleeping in during the day.
Give them water. Babies that are fed on formula milk often suffer with constipation. Prior to their colicky time try to give your baby 1 – 2 ounces of cooled boiled water. This should not be given in one go, spread it out throughout the day. The ideal time is when they are impatient for a feed but they have a little while to go, give them a little water, but don’t fill them up. This will ease their constipation, meaning they won’t get a stomachache and it also helps to ease their wind. Keep an eye on their nappies for the next couple of days, too much water will result in runny number two’s.
If you try all the above it should have an impact on you and your baby, reducing the amount of time spent crying and trying to soothe him. If it doesn’t work, help to soothe your baby during its colicky time by giving him a warm bath, put on a lullaby CD (it really works) and gently rock them side-to-side.