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When Little Man was tiny he had colic and we hadn’t even heard of it before we were living with it. I remember that time as feeling like it lasted forever, every night being so long and wondering how we would cope.
Colic is when a baby cries for no obvious reason. The symptoms of colic can vary between babies but the NHS describes colic as a baby crying for more than three hours a day for at least three days each week and it’s often worse in the afternoon and evening.
A lot of colic symptoms can seem like they have other causes. It can be hard to soothe and settle a colicky baby, they clench their fists, go red in the face and bring their knees up to their tummy or arch their back. They can have a lot of wind and their tummies can grumble – making you think they are hungry or constipated.
Most babies outgrow colic by the time they are six months old and our son grew out of it by about four months. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Here are a few things that helped us when he had colic:
Each time the baby cries makes sure nothing else is wrong – feed and change them, make sure they’re warm enough – or not too warm.
During feeds make sure the baby is as upright as possible to limit the air they are taking in and wind them well after each feed. If using bottles make sure they are ones designed to limit air intake as well.
The excessive crying could be down to a temporary lactose sensitivity where the baby can’t fully digest the lactose in milk. You can use Colief Infant Drops added to breast milk or formula to reduce the lactose content making the milk easier to digest.
We found that keeping our baby upright as much as possible even when not feeding really helped. He’d be happiest against our shoulders or in a baby carrier on our chest.
Rocking the baby turns into a constant activity. We would rock the pram, rock the moses basket or put him in a swing to gently rock him. We found that if the motion stopped the baby would start to cry but he was happiest when he was moving gently.
Bright lights and loud noise is something we avoided with colic and we stuck to being in dimly lit rooms, with white noise to soothe the baby. Being in the car seemed to calm him down too.
A warm bath can be a good distraction too as well as soothing for a baby. Following it with a baby massage can also help relax and calm the baby as well as relieving any trapped wind at the same time.
We spent a lot of time under a sleeping, cuddly baby over those weeks and had to just let the housework and things slide. When colic is at its worst we found that we had to dedicate hours to rocking, cuddling and singing to the baby to keep him content.
Try to have some time out. Colic is relentless and exhausting. It feels like it will last forever. If you can pass the baby over to your partner or a good friend for half an hour to rock and cuddle whilst you have a few minutes to yourself, a bath or read a book it will do you the world of good.
If you are in the throes of colic you are not alone and although the days – and nights – seem long they will pass and in a few weeks you’ll have a content baby again. I hope it comes round sooner than you think!
If your baby’s crying persists or if you have any concerns regarding your baby’s health or wellbeing, you should seek professional medical advice without delay.