Colic  It Can Drive You CrazyColic It Can Drive You Crazy

Colic is one of those mysteries that still hasn't been solved. Nobody really knows what causes it, and there's no "one size fits all" cure for it either. All of which means that if you have a colicky baby, the lack of certainty about what's wrong and how to fix it can drive you crazy!

My first baby never had colic, but when my daughter came along - I suddenly discovered the joys of colic in a big way. Evenings were the worst time for her - basically when I needed to be getting the evening meal organised, eaten, cleaned up and hopefully then sit down and enjoy some peace and quiet with my husband once my son went to bed. All those nice, quiet, orderly things went out the window! It didn't just affect me, it affected everyone.

The good news is that the crying does eventually stop, and even the colic does eventually stop. But have a crying baby is tough to cope with at the best of times, and when you're already tired and maybe a bit frazzled from a busy day, it's very hard indeed.

Here are some tips that many parents have found useful in either settling a colicky baby to sleep, or at the very least useful in reducing the level of crying.

1) Go for a walk with your baby. Holding baby either up against your shoulder or on your chest are both good positions. Quite often a lot of crying causes gas, so if nothing else you may help to release the gas and so reduce some of baby's discomfort. For very young babies, the sound of your heart beating is often quite soothing, and can help relax them.

2) Go outside for a walk. Grab the pram or stroller, and go for a walk. Babies love to see new things, so the distraction provided by a walk around the block may be helpful. The regular motion of the stroller can also help to relax baby.

3) Rocking. It doesn't matter what you use, whether it's a rocking chair you sit in together, rock baby's bassinet, or bounce baby's bouncer seat. The rhythmic motion is great for soothing a colicky baby. Again, holding baby against your chest while you rock in a chair helps because baby can hear your heartbeat.

4) Go for a drive. Okay, I always felt a bit silly driving around and going nowhere in particular, and I have to say that initially, if my daughter was still screaming, it wasn't much fun, either. But although I tried to only resort to driving when I was really struggling to cope, it certainly was effective. Most babies can't resist the urge to fall asleep when they're in a car.

5) Music. Babies love music, so start singing, or even turn on a radio or TV. Music often soothes a crying baby, particularly lullabies. Some babies show a marked preference for a particular musical style, and even if it doesn't send them off to sleep, may help distract them enough to stop crying.

6) Sucking. This method worked very well for my daughter - she wanted to suck something. At first I thought she was hungry, and so tried to nurse her some more, but my maternal health nurse said that could actually be making things worse. So she suggested a pacifier. My daughter would never take a pacifier any other time, but when she had colic in the evenings, she really seemed to feel better when she could suck on the pacifier. Once she stopped getting colic, she never wanted it again. I think by then her thumb had taken over too!

Hopefully out of all these ideas, you'll find one or two that will help to either soothe your baby or send baby to sleep. And remember - at some point colic does go away. Make sure you keep your health care professional informed about the colic, because if it goes on for too long, it may be necessary to check for other causes.

Also, if at any point the crying really is driving you crazy, to the point where you can't cope any more - it's vital to take time out. Hand baby over to your spouse or a trusted family member or friend. If you really don't have any other option, make sure baby is in a safe place (i.e. the crib), shut the door, and walk away for five minutes. It's better to do that than to go over the edge.

Always remember that you're not alone - talk to people you trust, and you may well find out that they had a colicky baby too. There are websites that can give you more information, or perhaps a forum where you can meet other parents going through the same thing. The worst thing you can do is isolate yourself, believing that somehow it's your fault - it's not.

by Heather Owens
References and Bibliography

For more information about baby colic, go to Info About Baby You can sign up for a FREE Baby Tips newsletter at Baby Tips Newsletter. The author's book about babies is available at Baby's First Year

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