Help - my baby has colic!

Newborn | | Louise Broadbridge

By Louise, The Honest Midwife

Did you feel like you had it nailed? Baby was in a routine and now everything seems to have changed? Crying for hours? Asking yourself “Where have all the good times gone?” Your baby may have colic. 1 in 5 babies suffer from colic at some point, so it is a definite possibility and a reality that can be difficult to navigate.

The first thing you need to know is this… It. Is. Not. Your. Fault! You are not doing anything wrong, you are not a bad parent. Your baby is just being…a baby! That said it is important that you are supported and have as much information at hand as possible. 

Colic is a term that is given to a baby that cries for at least 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week and has done so for at least 3 weeks. Other than those 3 markers, everything else is fine. Baby is feeding well, growing well and giving you wet and dirty nappies. They just seem really unhappy and unsettled.

They may cry until they are red in the face, arch their back and flail their little fists around. Crying periods can last for a good few hours before slumber hits and peace is resumed.

As a new parent is is really important that you know it is OK to acknowledge, “Hey, this new job of mine is really tough!” After that there are a few things that you can try which may relieve the symptoms.

Although there are many sources that say breastfed babies don’t need to be winded, if your baby is showing signs of colic, ensuring that trapped wind isn’t the culprit is an easy thing to do. Holding baby over your shoulder and gently rubbing or patting their back may help them to bring up any tiny bubbles being held hostage and causing tummy pains. Some people like to hold babies across their knees and rub their back that way. Both ways are fine and may help to settle baby.

Imagine starting a new job, in a new county, learning a new language and meeting new people, every day for 6 weeks. Sounds exhausting doesn’t it? That is what being a newborn baby must be like. New sights, smells, tastes, noises. The list of new things is endless as they navigate their way around their new world. Hardly surprising that signs of colic often start at about 3 or 4 weeks of age. A great thing to do if your baby is unsettled is… nothing! Turn of the mobiles, dim down the lights and spend quiet time with your baby. Try reducing any stimuli before baby gets to fever pitch as this can keep the crying at bay. Most parents report that crying starts at a particular time of day, so plan to have a period of calm and quiet, maybe try some baby massage or skin-to-skin so that baby is super relaxed and may forget the need to cry.

Touch is your baby’s first language. Gentle massage on your baby’s tummy, in a clockwise direction, can help your baby resolve any digestive issues that may be causing discomfort and this lovely touch from parents also encourages the body to release natural pain killers to soothe and settle baby. Again, these activities should ideally start before baby becomes too unsettled.

Who doesn’t enjoy a cuddle? Babies love to feel safe and secure and baby wearing can remind them of when they were safely tucked up inside Mum. The gentle rocking whilst in a baby sling can be really soothing for baby, triggering their parasympathetic nervous system to kick-start. This can help baby to both rest and digest their food and relieve any symptoms of discomfort caused by baby trying to process their last meal.