Parenting can be overwhelming and one of the greatest challenges many parents face is coping with their baby's crying. All babies cry but some will be inconsolable for extended periods of time. More often than not this will be colic.
So what is colic?
In short we don't know.
There are many theories including
- changes in gastrointestinal bacteria,
- excessive gas
- lactose intolerance
But these are all just theories that have not been substantiated.What we do know though is
- Up to 40% of babies have colic
- A baby with colic can cry for 3 or more hours a day
- Crying often occurs in the late afternoon and evening
- The baby will clench their fists, drawing their knees up to their tummy, or arch their back while crying.
- Colic will start around 2 weeks of age and begins to improve around 3 months
- Colic can be sole destroying and can overshadow the joys of early parenting.
- Its not your fault - your babys colic and crying is not a reflection on your parenting. Sometimes it just happens.
- Everyone has an opinion. You will get lots of advice from your doctor through to the lady behind you at the checkout!! Consider all the advice and decide what works best for you and your baby.
- It will improve - while each episode of crying may seem endless, be reassured at the end of each episode that means there is one less to get through! It will get easier.
So how do you cope?
- Make a visit to your doctor just to ensure the crying is not due to another cause.
- Working out your baby's need can be a little hit and miss in the early weeks, but try to eliminate other causes for crying - hunger, too hot, too cold, need for a nappy change, over tired.
- Cuddle, hold and sooth your baby. You can't spoil them by doing these things, you are simply responding to their needs.
- Massage your baby. Massage will not only help with your baby's symptoms it enhances bonding and helps to decrease the parents stress levels (Glover, Onozawa & Hodgkinson: 2002; Onozawa, Glover, Adams, Modi & Kumar: 2001).
- Look after yourself. Certainly easier said than done but so important. Enlist some help from family and friends, go outside for some fresh air, find some "you" time, sleep when you can and prioritise.
- See your doctor if you feel you are not coping or afraid you might hurt your baby.
- Ensure your partner/family are aware of what is happening. They may not see that you are not coping.
- Surround yourself with like minded supportive people - it is so important that you find your own tribe.
- Colic is common.
- It will get better.
- Look after yourself - your baby needs you.