There are few things that are as hard to handle for a new mom as colic. When you’ve done everything you can and your child is still crying, your nerves are hopelessly frayed, and your confidence goes through the floor. It is even harder if you are a single mom with limited resources. But there are things you can do to help you and your baby get through the colic.
All babies are fussy at times. But moms who have had a colicky baby will tell you that there is definitely a difference between fussiness and colic. Technically, , colic is defined as unexplained intense crying in an otherwise healthy infant that lasts for around three hours, at least three days a week. It usually sets in around three weeks old, and dies out between three and four months old.
During colic episodes, the crying is intense and continuous. When a baby is colicky, his belly might be distended. His head can be flushed. His feet may be cold and his hands clenched into fists. The baby is in obvious distress.
As a new mom, coping with a baby who just won’t stop crying is very hard. It’s tough to watch your baby cry and not be able to help. You’ve done everything. You’ve fed him, changed his diaper, bathed him, made sure he’s not too hot or too cold, and he just won’t stop. There isn’t much that can make a mom feel so helpless so quickly. No one has an explanation for colic, why it starts and why it hits some babies but not others. But there are a few things that can help both baby and mom get through it.
First, do not be tempted to keep feeding the baby. If you’ve just fed him, it’s not hunger that’s making him cry, and overfeeding can make the colic worse. Keep to his regular feeding pattern.
Second, avoid giving your baby juice. Juice isn’t good for babies that young and the sugar may intensify the colic.
If you are nursing, try changing your diet. Eating things like dairy, spicy foods or foods which create gas can increase colic. Take these things out of your diet one at a time and see if it helps.
If you are formula feeding, try changing the brand of formula you are using. Some brands of formula are easier for babies to digest than others. Wait a week, and see if the colic lessens.
Next, try some sort of gentle motion. My colicky baby liked being rocked with me in a rocking chair or in a car seat. Sometimes, going for a car ride might provide enough motion to stop the baby crying for a while.
Also, sometimes playing soft noises, like natural sounds or a white noise machine, can help with colic. Your baby might find the sound soothing.
Definitely keep in mind that each child is different and the person who knows your child best is you. If you are concerned in any way about your baby’s health, see a doctor. The worst that will happen is the doctor will say “it’s colic,” and give you some tips like these. But even if that’s the case, peace of mind is worth a lot.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, if you’ve tried everything you can think of and your baby is still crying, and you’ve reached the end of your rope, put the baby down in a safe place where he can’t hurt himself and walk away. The emotions brought on by a baby’s intense crying can be strong. You Might feel frustrated, anxious, even angry. This does not make you a bad mom. But your baby and you will both feel better if you’ve had a chance to regain your equilibrium. If you have a support network, see if you can have a friend or family member watch the baby for a while so you can leave the house completely. Go for a walk, a drive, anywhere where you can get away from the crying for enough time to let you relax and regenerate. If you don’t have anyone who can watch the baby for a bit, even going to stand outside on a porch for a while, where the sound isn’t quite so loud, can help. Let me reemphasize how important this is. Don’t feel guilty or bad if you need to put the baby down. This is an intense, incredibly trying time for both of you, and both of you will be better off if Mom has time to recoup.
Coping with a colicky baby is difficult, especially for a single mom who doesn’t have a partner to share the burden. I hope these tips help you, and make it easier to reach the other side. Because, remember, this is not permanent. It only lasts a couple of months. I know when you’re going through colic, it seems like it lasts forever, but it really doesn’t. I promise you, by the time your baby is a year old, and the colic will only be a memory.