Did you know that colic isn’t really a diagnosis? It’s more of a behavioral observation. That’s according to renowned pediatrician and author of bestselling books like “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” Harvey Karp.
Colic is defined as inconsolable crying that isn’t due to a medical issue or because the baby is over-tired, hungry, wet or wants to be held. Most often, a baby is considered colicky if he or she cries for longer than three hours, three days a week for at least three weeks. Babies usually grow out of colic by the time they are five months old.
“Parents seem to fear the term ‘colic,’” says Veronica Linares, MD, FAAP and internist/pediatrician with Adventist Medical Group. “While soothing a colicky baby can be challenging, a little preparation and a plan can help relieve the stress for everyone involved, especially parents.”
Comforting a Colicky Baby
Keep a journal.
If you haven’t already started a journal to help your pediatrician identify colic (and rule out other issues), start one now. It will help you identify your little one’s fussiest time of day, and give you a chance to get proactive about it – whether that’s starting a slow cooker a little early, DVR-ing a favorite show or gathering up the items that soothe your baby best. Be sure to make a note about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to calming down your baby.
Try the “Five S’s”
Karp created a method for soothing fussy babies that moms from Madonna to your next door neighbor swear by:
- Swaddle your baby to offer comfort and security
- Hold your baby in your arms, on his side with his stomach pressed against yours
- Soothe your baby by making calming, repetitive shushing noises, or create white noise with a hair dryer, bathroom fan, vacuum cleaner or white noise machine
- Swing your baby gently from side to side to settle her down
- Offer your baby a pacifier, finger or something safe to suck on
Call for reinforcements.
New moms, and all new parents, can sometimes feel unnecessary pressure to do everything on their own. Remember that taking care of an infant is hard work. Add colic to the mix and it becomes downright stressful.
Ask eager grandparents to come over when you know your baby is going to be fussy. And if you’re not comfortable with them soothing your little one, see if someone can come over to do the laundry, unload the dishwasher or make dinner so you can either rest when your baby is resting or focus on comforting your little one, and not on the pile of housework that needs to get done.
Go for a walk.
Fresh air and movement can do wonders for you and your baby. Weather permitting, head outside for a brisk walk around the block. And if it’s raining or too cold outside, grab that umbrella stroller and do some laps in your house.
Take care of yourself.
It’s important for you to rest and recharge, too. It may be hard to accept, but you can only take care of others when you take care of yourself. Try to carve out a little time just for you – whether that’s reading for 15 minutes before bed, taking that walk by yourself for a little peace and quiet or grabbing coffee with a friend.