It is normal for babies to cry, as that is how they communicate their needs to us. But is it normal for a baby to cry uncontrollably for hours on end without reason? Is something wrong with a baby that refuses to be comforted and screams almost into fits? According to the Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 20-25% of babies meet the definition of colic, which is a healthy baby with no underlying medical condition crying longer than 3 hours a day and more than 3 times a week. A colicky baby is a parent's dreaded nightmare. Undeniably, the baby is not the only one in pain as parents suffer from increased blood pressure and highly-strung nerves. Some may even come close to a mental breakdown and have evil thoughts against the baby.
The only thing that races through the mind of the parents is "how do I stop the crying?" The desperate search for a cure all only results in disappointment; as medically, there isn't one definitive reason for colic. There are plenty of theories and a plethora of advice. Sadly, there is no "this-is-it" kind of solution. Therefore, to find the way to make your baby stop crying, you will have to go through the various methods and hopefully, find one that works. To help you, here is a list of remedies many parents have tried:
Tightly wrapping the baby with a blanket is often soothing as it gives the baby a sense of warmth and security. Do not think that baby will be uncomfortable with this restriction. Swaddling brings back the snug, comfortable feeling of being in the mother's womb.
2. Baby wearing
Many mothers worry that carrying baby often is going to spoil the baby. However, walking around with baby in your arms or in a sling can reduce crying spells. Baby is comforted by your closeness and also the motions of being in a sling.
3. Rhythmic rocking
I think this only comes naturally to all parents. Put a baby in their arms and they automatically start rocking. If your arms get tired, consider a baby swing. You can also put baby face down on your lap and gently sway your knees. This may help baby get rid of wind or gas in the tummy.
4. Stay in motion
Besides using a sling and rhythmically rocking your baby, you can take baby for a walk in a stroller or out for a drive. Sitting in a rocking chair while holding baby upright is also worth a try.
5. Baby massage
Most parents believe colic is due to gas trapped in baby's tummy causing it to cramp. Baby massage can help the release of gas and trigger bowel movement. Some baby massage techniques are:
- putting your two hands on the tummy, one at 10 o'clock and the other at 4 o'clock, massage in a clockwise direction. Push down firmly, but gently.
- holding the baby's knees, fold it up to the stomach and hold for 15-30 seconds.
- holding the baby's feet, move the legs in a bicycle motion.
- bending baby's legs at the knees, cross it and then rock from side to side.
6. Gripe water
Some grandmothers swear by gripe water. It contains herbs such as fennel, ginger or chamomile that help calm the stomach and relieves gas. However, beware that there are some gripe water that include artificial ingredients, preservatives and alcohol. So, do inspect the ingredients when you buy gripe water.
7. Diet check
If you are breastfeeding, check to see if the food you consume such as onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spicy food, dairy, chocolate, caffeine, and citrus fruits is the one causing baby to react negatively. One at a time, eliminate one type of food for a week and monitor baby for signs of improvement. If baby is bottle fed, try formula milk that is easier to digest. Goats milk formula is said to have proteins closest to human breast milk.
8. Cranial osteopathy
Some mothers have found success with this treatment. The idea behind this is that the trauma of birth creates a neck restriction in baby. This affects other areas of the body. One of the results is abdominal pain. Cranial osteopathy aims at releasing the neck to relieve colic. Based on a recently published research, colic babies that underwent cranial osteopathy therapy cried 40% less than those that did not.
Colic can drive a parent crazy. After trying all the methods and failing to find a remedy, do not succumb to feelings of a useless parent. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is wait for it to end. This usually takes place when baby is about three months old. To keep your sanity, don't hesitate in using earplugs. It will help keep you calm amidst the wailing. Also, don't feel guilty in taking a break from baby. It's okay to let someone else take over while you rejuvenate. If you get thoughts of harming your baby, walk away. Let baby cry a little while you regain your composure.