Tips for Baby Colic...And Exhausted Parents
I feel you Momma! Colic sucks. Colicky babies can leave you frustrated, confused and exhausted. Your adorable little bundle of joy has turned in to a crying, screaming bomb that can go off at any minute. The most frustrating part? Leading experts on the matter do not even know what really causes Colic.
The good news? We can still treat the Colic symptoms!
The Main Treatments for Colic
2. Exploring Allergies
3. Baby Poop
4. Trouble Sleeping
Now that we know what the main symptoms are, let us explore deeper in to these treatments. Take a deep breath, I promise colic does not last forever.
In the meantime, learn about these colic symptoms in detail and tips to treat them all.
Baby Colic Treatment
Newborn babies may look perfect in your eyes, but inside they are still developing a normal internal system. Their digestive tract is still growing and learning how to respond.
Babies are very gassy creatures. When they cry, they swallow air. When they feed, they swallow air. When they suck on their pacifier, they swallow air. The problem is the air can get trapped in their belly, and they need some help from you to pass it.
Here is the list to help baby with gas:
Another breastfeeding tip: If your baby is having trouble getting a good latch, and they start to fuss or cry, try a nipple shield. If you have smaller nipples, a shield will assist baby in getting that good latch as it resembles a bottle nipple and comfortably fits over yours. You can purchase one in the Baby Store..
Always burp your baby after feeding. You can even stop halfway through a feed, say if your transitioning from one breast to the other, and do a burp session then. Try tapping baby's back while they are held upright against your chest, or try lightly bouncing them on your leg while supporting their head with your hands.
Bottle feeding: If you are bottle feeding, I highly recommend Dr. Brown bottles. They are made to reduce gas in babies, and you can actually see the dramatic difference in air bubbles if you compare it to a regular bottle. You can grab the starter kit in the Baby Store.
Exercises: Once your little one is walking and rolling, it is easy for them to expel gas with physical movement. Until then, there are other things you can do to help their digestive tract expel air. One exercise is the bike peddle. Lay baby on their back on your bed and sit by their feet. Grab a foot in each hand and guide their legs like they are peddling a bike. Every 10 peddles or so, stop and push their little legs in to their stomach. Not hard, but enough to put pressure. If they do not pass wind, keep going. Try it about 5 more times.
One of the best exercises for baby colic is tummy time. It puts pressure on their belly, and the movement of their legs do the rest. Get in a few minutes of tummy time here and there, and increase the amount of time per session week by week. For baby's that can support their own head, you can also sit on the couch with your knees bent (feet on the ottoman). Lay baby with their belly on your thighs so they are almost standing up. Gently rub their back in a circular motion.
2. Exploring Allergies
When we brought my son home, I had a horrible time breastfeeding him. At this time, I did not know about nipple shields and his little premature mouth had trouble latching. I made the decision to start bottle feeding. I tried to pump often, but slowly lost my milk supply.
We started with the Enfamil formula the hospital had used, because we figured it was the best quality. As my sons colic got worse, I brought to the attention of my doctor that it could be his formula. Maybe it was hurting his tummy? May he was lactose intolerant? She had told me that babies cry, babies get gassy, and not to worry.
If you think that your baby may have an allergy to their formula, go with your gut. After pushing the doctor on the issue after several visits, she confirmed he did have an intolerance and she wrote a prescription for a hypoallergenic formula. After this change, his gas decreased dramatically and his diaper rash vanished.
There are several types of formula for intolerance, however I would make your choice wisely. Because I was desperate to ease the colic, I did not want to take a risk trying Soy. What if he had a soy allergy? The best choice I made was going with Similac Alimentum.
I recommend using the ready made cans first, because you want your baby to get used to the new formula in its perfected state. You can then switch to the powder as it is less expensive. Another good tip: some health insurance companies will cover 80% of the cost of formula if it is necessary due to an allergy. Our benefits did, and it left us paying $40 per month to feed our son.
3. Baby Poop
A baby's poop can tell you a lot. I am sure you have researched all of the different colours and what they mean. But what if the problem is baby's lack of poop?
Constipation can be a major factor in colic. Baby may have an underdeveloped digestive tract, weak rectal muscles (has trouble expelling the poop), or an allergy to their formula.
Here is another case where you need to use those mommy instincts to sniff out the problem. Because all babies are different, it can be hard to know how often they should be pooping. Some poop four times a day, others can go a few days without a bowel movement.
My gut told me that my son needed to poop. His belly was firm, and his bowel movements seemed to cause him to struggle. He would go a few days without a decent poop. I brought him to the hospital once, to ask if he was constipated. Being a first time mom, it didn't hurt to get professional advice. The doctor recommended the bike peddle exercise mentioned above.
As I tirelessly bike peddled this poor kids legs, I grew impatient. He is in pain and discomfort and I have to take control. I grabbed a Q-tip and dipped it in some Vaseline. I then bent his legs up to his chest and slowly inserted the Q-tip in to his rectum, just the tip (like half of the cotton part). Well boy oh boy, out came an explosion of the poop he had been holding in for days.
After seeing a specialist, I was told that he did have weak rectal muscles because of being a preemie. Every other day I would insert a baby glycerin suppository, lubed with Vaseline, into his rectum. He would explode with poop and we would all feel much, much better afterwards. If your baby struggles with constipation, ask your doctor about adding a tiny amount of Restorolax to their morning bottle.
4. Trouble Sleeping
Some parents are blessed with a baby that sleeps through the night after 6 weeks. Others struggle with sleep issues up to their 2nd birthday. Where colic is concerned, lack of sleep for baby can be one of the symptoms.
If you have covered the areas above, you have probably relieved uncomfortable gas, solved any constipation issues and resolved any allergies. This will definitely help with the quality (and quantity) of your baby's sleep. But there are other things you can try if your baby has frequent wakings, trouble falling asleep or wakes too early. Keep in mind that it is normal for a newborn baby to wake often to feed in the beginning. Infants that are a few months old should be able to go a few hours in between, but keep in mind that every child is different.
Here are some things to consider about baby sleep:
- Gas, Constipation, Upset stomach: See above
- Temperature: Is baby too cold? Is baby too warm? I have found babies like to be on the cooler side when they sleep, but each child is different. Does the room feel too cold to you? Or warm? When you touch the back of their neck is it wet with sweat? You want the back of their neck to be warm, but not sweaty. Try adjusting the temperature or use a sleep sack for colder nights. Try the sleep sack from the Baby Store if you are looking for a quality sleep sack that gives room to grow.
-Noise sensitivity: If your baby wakes when the dog barks or the upstairs neighbours walk around, then a white noise machine is a good purchase. You can travel with it and use it in the car. Think Pavlov's Dog. In the experiment Pavlov would give the dog a treat every time it rang the bell. When my baby hears the white noise machine, it is instant eye rubbing and yawning because it signals sleep! The best White Noise machine is in the Baby Store. It has 24 sounds and will play the whole night.
- Night and Day: Help baby to set their internal clock. If they are sleeping most of their required sleep during the day but are up all night, you may need to adjust a few things. Remember that newborns wake frequently at night, and that is normal. Try blackout curtains to help block out light when it is nap time. In the morning, introduce baby to sunlight right away. Open their door and turn the light on. Their internal clock needs to know to sleep when it is dark, and wake when it is light.
There are some things you can try to help with a colicky baby where comfort is concerned. Above I mentioned adjusting the temperature of the baby's room in case they are too warm or too cold. Here are a few more things you want to look in to:
- Is your baby hungry? I know with myself, I had to make the switch from breastfeeding to formula because I was not producing enough milk. Some days I would pump for 30 minutes and barely make 30 ml. Try investing in a good breast pump to increase your milk supply. Tip: If you do not want to purchase a double electric, you can rent one from Shoppers Drug Mart on a monthly basis.
Babies will also cluster feed in the evening. Some parents mistake this for baby being tired. They get fussy and cry, and the parent puts them down to sleep. This can lead to baby crying in the crib, and the parent not understanding why baby can't fall asleep. It can be quite surprising how much milk a young baby can consume before bedtime. Aim to cluster feed from around 7:00pm to 10:00pm. You may have up to 3 breastfeeding sessions during this time!
- Swaddle. Your baby loved the warm, cozy womb and you want to try to recreate that for your baby. If you are not already doing so, try swaddling with the baby blanket. An easier option is to purchase swaddles for your baby. The swaddles in the Baby Store are my favorite.
Coming from a Mom that freaked out about every little noise and fuss my baby made, I want to ask you to try and not follow in my footsteps. Anxiety leads to more anxiety! If you struggle with that, check out:
Remember that you are new at this, and so is your baby. What worked for other moms may not work for you, and being a new mom can feel like one big experiment. You are trying your best, and your baby will love you for it.
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