My baby with colic is now eight years old, but there are times when I look into her sweet, beautiful face and have an instant flashback to the nightmare that was her babyhood.
Look, I love my daughter now and I loved her as a baby, but if I’m being honest, her newborn and infant stages were really, really hard. Like, cry-in-a-corner hard. Like, she-never-stopped-crying-and-projectile-vomited-on-every-outfit-we-both-had hard. Like, I-still-feel-a-bit-traumatized-hard.
As a 24-year-old exhausted mother of two, I didn’t realize it back then, but my daughter had colic, and she had it bad. My husband and I chalked it up to her as being “one of those babies” and basically just dealt with it on our own. She was gaining weight and growing normally, so we tried our hardest to make her comfortable and because I was breastfeeding her, I worked on cutting out any triggers from my diet. We managed until she eventually grew out of her colicky stage, but for months and months, we were all pretty miserable. Looking back, I can see that I was sorely lacking the resources I needed to deal with my baby’s colic. Colic can be a very isolating and overwhelming time for parents, but there are some strategies that can help. Here are a few tips for coping with a baby who has colic:
Reduce gas during feedings
One of the theories on colic is that the condition can be caused or exacerbated by excess gas in the baby; thus, reducing the amount of air in your baby’s stomach that accumulates during feedings might help relieve some of the symptoms of colic.
For instance, many babies swallow air when they are eating, especially if they are using a bottle. The bottle may have extra air in it, or the baby’s mouth doesn’t seal all the way around the nipple, leading the baby to swallow extra air. To help reduce the amount of air that your baby is swallowing during feedings, you can try some strategies such as:
- Keeping your baby upright during and after feedings
- Trying different types of bottles and nipples designed to reduce air flow
- Using an anti-colic valve
Add in probiotics
While you will want to discuss adding anything aside from breast milk or formula to your baby’s diet of course, the American Academy of Pediatrics did complete a study that found that probiotics may help aid in relieving the symptoms of colic for infants who are breastfed. A 2017 Pediatrics study found that Lactobacillus reuteri DSM17938 is “effective” for helping with colic and can be recommended for breastfed infants, while further research is needed for formula feeding.
Keep a food diary
Because I was breastfeeding my baby, the only way I could manage her discomfort was through my own diet. So, I did my best and started a food diary to keep careful track of what I was eating and how my baby’s symptoms seemed to worsen depending on what I consumed. And what I found? Well, it turned out to be rather depressing, because anytime I had so much as a bite of dairy, seeded fruit like raspberries or strawberries, most forms of starchy carbs, and horror of horrors—coffee and chocolate—her symptoms were much worse. And despite the sadness it brought me to cut those things out of my diet, keeping the diary helped me figure out what her triggers were so I could avoid eating them.
Consider a chiropractor
While there is still not a known “cure” for colic, some families have had success with chiropractic adjustment for the newborns. A 2012 study, admittedly by the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy, found that colic symptoms were relived with chiropractic manipulation and a larger, more comprehensive 2018 study is currently being done to confirm the findings.
Speak to a doctor
When dealing with a colicky baby, it’s also really important that you don’t discount the importance of speaking to a pediatrician to ensure that there aren’t any medical complications behind your baby’s crying. Too many parents are quick to rule out a cranky, crying newborn as a normal part of parenting or worry that a doctor will dismiss their worries as over-anxious parents.
But the truth is, there may be an underlying reason behind your baby’s colic. Some babies, for example, have acid reflux or a sensitivity that could be causing discomfort that leads to the crying. Especially if your baby has any other symptoms, such as spitting up excessively or signs that he/she is in pain, be sure to address your concerns with a doctor.
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