I don’t want to speak too soon, but now Violet is 3 months old I think we are out of the colic phase, although you never know – it could rear its ugly head again at any time. As a newborn Violet really suffered from colic, wind and all kinds of digestive discomfort, poor thing – we would have evenings where she would just scream for what seemed like hours. It’s such horrible feeling when you don’t know what to do to help them out.
According to the NHS: Colic is the name for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It’s a common problem that affects up to one in five babies. Colic tends to begin when a baby is a few weeks old. It normally stops by four months of age, or by six months at the latest. Looking after a colicky baby can be very frustrating and distressing, but the problem will eventually pass and is usually nothing to worry about
Signs and symptoms of colic include:
- intense crying bouts
- crying in the late afternoon or evening that lasts several hours
- your baby’s face being red and flushed when they cry
- your baby clenching their fists, drawing their knees up to their tummy, or arching their back while crying.
I’m by no means an expert but I feel like after 3 months of experience I have picked up quite a few tips and tricks along the way so I thought I’d share them here. I wish I’d known some of these right from the start, so hopefully they will help any new parents out there!
Firstly, if your baby is screaming uncontrollably – stay calm, take a few deep breaths before going to attend to them. When they see you they should see a safe, calming parent – not a frazzled, tired beast that just wants their bed (even though that’s how it feels!) Babies really pick up on vibes so if you are calm, they are more likely to follow suit.
Newborn babies are used to being tucked up tightly inside the womb so when they are suddenly on the outside with all this space to move about in and arms that flail about, they can work themselves up into quite a frenzy. We found holding Violet close and using a swaddle bag like the ergoCocoon Organic Zip-up Swaddle worked really well for us. Especially as we could either use it with her arms enclosed or have them out, which helped her to transition into sleeping in gro-bags later on.
Babies love calming sounds like white noise or heartbeat sounds as it reminds them of being in the womb. Two lifesaver products were a White Noise app on my phone and Ewan the Dream Sheep – both of these make lovely calming sounds that seemed to work so well to soothe and calm when Violet was having a colicky moment. If all else fails, just making a soft ‘ssshhhhhh’ sound can also work wonders, I still do that now, apparently when the babies are in the womb the placenta makes a similar noise, so it’s really familiar and calming for them.
Elevated Sleep position
This one worked wonders for us. We bought the ClevaMama ClevaSleep+ which is a wedge type cushion that propped her up at an angle for sleeping. This can be much more comfy for them when they have wind and can help with reflux too. The only thing we found with this is that she wouldn’t settle on the wedge alone as she was used to being cocooned in her Sleepyhead Deluxe Plus, so we ended up using it underneath her sleepyhead to raise it slightly – that still worked well for us though!
Move, Move, Move!
I can’t believe I didn’t wear away the varnish on our wooden floors after the hours I spent in the night just pacing up and down (and up and down and up and down again). Babies love movement, so if they won’t settle get up and walk them about, baby carriers are a lifesaver for times like this. I’ve also heard of parents going out at 3am in the car, although this wasn’t the case for us as Violet hates her car seat so getting her in it would just be even more stressful.
Check their feed
Whether they are breastfed or bottle fed, sometimes what they are eating can be the cause of tummy troubles, wind and colic as at this stage their little digestive systems are so immature. Violet has been both breastfed and bottle fed, so a product that worked well for us for both types of feed was a lactase enzyme drop called Care Co-Lactase Infant Drops. These can be added to either expressed breastmilk or formula. This helps to break down the lactose in the milk, which can often be the root cause of the colic symptoms. This worked really well for us, we have only just stopped adding this to Violet’s feeds at 3 months, I’d highly recommend giving it a go!
Wind your baby
It might be tempting to just ‘dream feed’ your baby to sleep then quietly pop them down in the cot before they wake (I’ve tried this many times as you just don’t want to wake them after they’ve taken so long to settle!) but by doing this you could be causing more pain/discomfort for them down the line. Always wind your baby after a feed by rubbing or patting them gently on the back. If they have trapped wind the other end, laying them on their back and gently moving their legs in a ‘cycle motion’ to help ease things up.
Baby massage is said to really help their digestive systems too. You can take a class or if you are like me, I just learned a few tips from Youtube and that seemed to work well too. Most of it is just getting them to relax and stay calm, so even just a gentle soothing rub with some baby oil or lotion will help, even if you are not sure what you are doing!
So, they are my top tips – let me know if you give any of them a go. I think one of the main things I can say about colic is – IT WILL PASS. At the time, when you have this screaming baby on your hands it’ll feel like forever, but honestly it is just a phase. There are ways to help them and it will pass. Don’t think you are doing a bad job as a parent when your baby is screaming inconsolably, it’s normal. I hope these tips and tricks help, even just a little bit! You’ve got this Mama (or Papa!) 🙂
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Post written in collaboration with Care Plus Co-Lactase Infant Drops however all words and opinions are my own