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Tips For Surviving Colic

Jan 1, 2008
If your little bundle of joy has colic, you may wonder if you will survive this trying time. The good news is that colic is not permanent. The crying will stop and your happy baby will return. Until then, those hours of endless crying try even the most devoted parents. Here are a few tips for keeping your sanity with a colicky baby.

See Your Pediatrician

It is important to rule out other health problems if your baby has extended periods of crying. Colic is often accompanied by gastric disorders and feeding problems. These conditions can cause hours of crying alone. It is crucial to treat any underlying health problems. Get medical confirmation that your child has colic and not something else.

Most babies begin exhibiting symptoms of colic around three or four weeks of age. The condition may continue for four or five months. The exact cause is unknown, but a common theory is that some children are born with an underdeveloped nervous system that results in overstimulation and inconsolable bouts of crying. Colic is very distressing for babies and caregivers.

If you feel like hurting your child during an extended crying spell, you are not a bad parent. It means it is time to get help and support. Call a neighbor, a grandparent, or friend to care for the baby for a while or place the baby in a safe place, like the crib, and go outside for a few minutes of fresh air and quiet time. If you are feeling angry, walk away from the child and call for a back-up caregiver.

Try Repetitive or White Noise

Repetitive noises often soothe colicky babies. Special music CDs with a rhythmic heartbeat and soothing lullabies are available. You can also place a tennis shoe in the dryer, or try using white noise. White noise is an audible noise with a constant frequency spectrum. Tune a radio to a blank station, turn the TV to a 'snow station', run a fan, dryer, hairdryer, or vacuum cleaner - they all produce white noise. White noise can be very soothing for colicky babies, perhaps because it blocks out other stimuli.

The Car Ride

Colicky babies love car rides. The wind noise and repetitive motion of the moving car quiets their crying spells. Stop at a red light and the wailing begins again, so unless you have all night and a full tank of gas, this is not the best option. A car ride does work in a pinch.

Reduce Stimulation

As the dark hour approaches of your baby's usual crying spell, decrease the stimulation near the baby as much as possible. Turn down lights, keep things quiet, and adjust the room temperature. You can place cotton in the baby's ears and cover his head with a hat to help reduce auditory stimulation. Swaddling is helpful for some babies. Wrap your infant snugly in a blanket, leaving only his head free.

Try the Swing

Baby swings work for some colicky babies. The rhythmic movement may stop the crying altogether or it may result in breaks between heavy wailing. This may be due to the constant motion or it may provide enough of a distraction to stop the crying.

Colic is not a life sentence to cohabitation with a screaming child. Colic resolves on its own, usually before the child reaches five months of age. Support from friends, family and other parents of a colicky baby are the most important intervention for any family dealing with colic.
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