Identifying colic in a newborn can be tricky, especially when the baby’s frequent and inexplicable crying becomes too much to handle. While it is common for the baby to cry a lot in the initial weeks of life due to – overtiredness or overstimulation, hunger or being uncomfortable such as being too hot or cold – other factors could also point towards a colicky baby.
Does my baby have colic?
Colic is usually characterized by prolonged and uncontrollable crying of 3 hours or more, for more than a few days to an extended period of more than 3 weeks. However, it is best for a doctor to determine and diagnose this, as well as to exclude other possible reasons for the crying such as your baby may be uncomfortable or gassy instead of colicky. Keep in mind as well, that what may work for one colicky baby may not work for another.
How do I keep sane?
Having a colicky baby can be very tiring on both the parents and the baby. It is important to cope and manage the resultant stress as well as you can possibly handle as you ride through the weeks.
1. Share the load
Don’t be afraid to admit that your baby has colic (it is nothing to be ashamed about), and be open to have company (friends and/or family) to help you out with baby, especially during the window of time when baby is the fussiest. It would do you good mentally, emotionally and physically to have someone caring for the baby while you catch up with sleep, or even just to eat a meal without panicking.
2. Enjoy your baby
It can feel challenging to connect emotionally or have positive vibes towards a crying baby. Remember that there will be an (eventual) end to this stage of you child’s development. There will be time where baby is more serene – treasure those times and admire your precious baby with their tiny fingers and toes.
3. Find a comfortable position for baby
Sometimes changing a position or finding the most comfortable position for your baby may be the key in helping your child to settle and feel relax. Some babies dislike being cradled, favouring an upright position against your shoulder or your chest instead. Some babies calm down when they hear the familiar heartbeat of the mother.
4. Swaddle baby, carry baby
Swaddling helps baby to feel secure, like it was back to the where they came from as they feel all huddled up. Some babies like it tight to feel secure while others may prefer a little slack. Once you have found your child’s preferred swaddling method, keep to it. When your hands are tired from carrying baby, place him/her into a sarong or shoulder carrier and head out for a walk. You could benefit from the fresh air and the change in environment may help your child feel better as well.
5. Carve out time for yourself
As much as this is a challenge for most new parents, this is essential in helping you cope with a colicky baby. A breather away from the incessant crying could do you good and help you to recharge for the night ahead. It doesn’t have to be long; a 15-20 minute break being away from baby and any household related chores can go a long way in enabling you to care for your child for the next haul.
While the process may feel intolerable, remember that there is an end to colic! You will be able to enjoy your child and the parenting journey soon enough. Persevere while you are in it, and share your experience to encourage other parents who may face a similar situation in the future.
By Ruth Mak