Colic: Expert Tips On Signs and Steps to Take
When home with a new baby while the time is joyous it also can be a bit of a fog. Tired parents who are adjusting to their new baby have a lot on their plate so when the baby starts to cry, like a lot, it may take a bit of time to know when it is colic. We asked Dr. Smita Malhotra, pediatrician and mindfulness expert about what is colic and tips on how parents can help with the fussiness and also support both baby and their mental health.
In layman’s terms, what exactly is Colic?
Colic is defined as frequent crying in a baby that is otherwise healthy. Babies with colic cry for three hours a day, for more than three days a week and this can last three weeks or more. As a parent whose child has also suffered from colic, I know first-hand that parents can often be seen crying alongside their babies as well!
Colic can start in the first few weeks of life and while there is no established medical treatment for colic, it usually resolves by about 3-4 months of age. Colic is short-lived, but for parents, this can feel like a long time!
Seasoned parents may know when their baby has Colic, but for a new parent, what are the signs and steps to take if you think your child has Colic?
When you become a parent, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that “mind reader” was part of the job description. Essentially, that’s what we have to be when we’ve got a fussy baby on our hands. But here’s a little secret: Once you’ve ruled out hunger, a dirty diaper, and sleepiness, you’re left with three likely culprits: colic, gas, or tender gums.
Here is a cheat sheet for figuring out what might be causing fussiness.
Is it Gas?
Babies are full of toots and burps, thanks to a still-developing digestive system and their habit of gulping air while feeding and crying. If you notice your baby is squirming and pulling their legs up, she’s probably trying to relieve gas pains. You can help by doing this:
- Mimic baby’s moves: Help your baby pump their own gas out by laying them flat on their back and moving their legs in a bicycling motion.
- Try gas drops: Ask your pediatrician about trying gas drops containing simethicone, a baby-safe medication that breaks down gas bubbles, making them easier to pass. Look for a gentle formula, like Mommy’s Bliss Gas Relief Drops, which is 100% free of sugar, alcohol, and artificial flavors or colors.
- Feed differently: Tilt baby’s bottle at an angle so the entire nipple is filled with milk and not air bubbles. Make sure baby’s head is higher than their stomach. Using powdered formula? Let bubbles settle post-shake before feeding.
Is it Tender Gums?
With a new smile starting to emerge at about 6 months old, your baby may be dealing with swollen and sore gums and drool—like, a lot of drool. You can help by doing this:
- Massage baby’s mouth: With squeaky clean fingers, gently rub your baby’s gums. (The pressure eases the ouch.) For even more soothing action, add Mommy’s Bliss Organic Gum Massage Gel to the routine. It contains calming chamomile and vanilla, but no alcohol, parabens, or chemical numbing or cooling agents.
- Offer cold comfort: Gumming things can be soothing, so give your baby something healthy to chew on, like frozen fruit. Slide ice-cold berries or bananas into a mesh or silicone feeder to keep baby safe.
Is It Colic?
Babies with colic have regular fussy periods, usually between 6:00 pm and midnight. What makes colic colic is that it’s exceedingly tough to calm your baby and the crying lasts and lasts. At its peak, crying can go on for three grueling hours. Yikes! You can help by doing this:
- Wear your baby: The gentle bump-bump-bump of being walked while nestled in a baby carrier can be a great soother. The combo of close contact and motion does the trick.
- Swaddle up: A safe, tight swaddle is comforting for newborns because it reminds them of the close quarters of the womb.
- Try an old-school approach: Parents have been using gripe water for colic since the way-way back of the 1800s. While the formulas of yesteryear featured alcohol (oops!), today’s are a mix of sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) and soothing baby-safe herbs like ginger, historically known to help relieve symptoms from colic. For instance, Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water is free of alcohol, added sugar, and artificial flavors and colors. Plus, it features organic ginger and fennel — both classic colic soothers. Mommy’s Bliss has a number of gripe water products including a Gripe Water Nighttime and a new Organic Gel Formula for easy administration.
A fussy baby, a tired mom, it can be a rough time. How can a parent get through this period?
I used to think that meditation was for self-realized people who had it all together. And that was definitely not me. But it was during my long journey to becoming pregnant, when my doctor suggested that I try meditation.
To be quite honest, I was skeptical at first. I felt like I just did not have the time to sit around and just think. But as I learned about meditation, I realized that I had understood it all wrong.
Meditation is a practice that helps us to calm and focus our minds. For me, that practice takes on a variety of different forms during my day. And one of the most important parts of my practice of meditation is consistency. So, how can we as busy parents work daily meditation into our days?
Here are four ways:
- Wake up early in the mornings: With two young children, my mornings are full of chaos. And as painful as it sometimes can be, one of the most important parts of my day is waking up before my family wakes up. This gives me quiet time to sit with my coffee and just breathe. Taking a few minutes in deep breathing brings calm to my mind and body. It is my morning ritual that sets an intention for my day from the very beginning no matter what stressors come my way.
- Make use of the morning commute: Morning commutes can oftentimes be stressful-especially if yours is long! But they don’t have to be. I used to arrive at work already feeling depleted after dealing with morning traffic until I realized that I could use that time sitting in the car listening to something positive. This is why I love podcasts. I believe that words, whether spoken or written are powerful. They can shape our beliefs and guide our behavior. Listening to a positive and inspiring podcast on my way to work has done wonders for my mental well-being. For me, this is also a form of meditation as it calms my mind even if the traffic around me is chaotic.
- Lunchtime walking meditation: It’s so easy to spend all of our time inside of an office or a building as we go through our workday. However, a study done in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports showed that a lunchtime walk can elevate our mood, help us to be relaxed and to be more enthusiastic about our work. As we walk and pay attention to our steps and our breath, we bring awareness to our body and our connectedness to the world around us. I have found that taking a walk in the middle of my day helps me to approach the rest of my day with as much energy as I had in the beginning.
- Have a nighttime routine, just like your children!: Whenever children are going through stressful times, I often recommend that parents keep a routine as much as possible. This is because routines serve as anchors of stability for both children and adults. They can help to bring calm into an active mind. So having a nighttime routine after my children have gone to bed is a meditative practice for me. Whether it is reading an inspiring book or practicing deep breaths, a nighttime routine helps to keep both my children and me grounded. Incorporating meditation into your day might be easier than you think!