Baby's Got Colic and You Can't Cope
Baby's Got Colic and You Can't Cope
The 'Fussy' Diary
But the lack of a proven cure doesn't mean parents should ignore a baby's
distress, either. For starters, if crying persists after you make the obvious
checks -- dirty diaper? hungry? -- check with your doctor, who'll want to rule
out any underlying medical conditions, such as allergies or gastroesophageal
reflux (similar to adult heartburn).
Keep a log detailing your baby's fussy periods to help determine what, if
anything, seems to trigger or relieve the discomfort. If you're a nursing mom,
your doctor may suggest cutting dairy or gas-producing foods from your diet.
Milk and soy formulas also may upset infant tummies, in which case a
predigested hypoallergenic type formula may help.
If the verdict is colic, try to keep your cool -- even if the only
way you can do that is by silently walking the halls with your screaming baby
fastened securely in a Snugli infant carrier. Crying is one of the few ways a
baby can communicate, and your responses reassure your infant that you're
If a baby is crying excessively but has no discernible medical or physical
problem, says Dr. Hatch, past chair of the AAP's section on gastroenterology
and nutrition, studies have shown that "paying attention to it as opposed
to ignoring it, you can reduce the period of crying each day by as much as 30%
Nobody's to Blame
Although parental anxiety or inexperience won't cause colic (much to the
relief of first-time parents), tension might make a baby's distress worse, says
Dr. Squires. "Relax your shoulders, relax your hands, and continue to smile
at the baby even though they're not smiling back ...it's hard but it'll have
some positive impact."
"I think the best thing you can do is realize it's not the baby's fault
or your fault," says Susan Cherry, a mother from Evanston, Ill., who
survived two children with colic. "Do your best to bond with your baby in
the very rare moments when your he's quiet and cuddly."
Other home remedies:
Try a new position: Some babies are comforted by being swaddled
tightly in a blanket or held close in an infant carrier. Skin-to-skin contact
or infant massage may help. Or try holding your baby face down on your forearm
with his belly resting on your hand (head cradled in the crook of your arm and
legs dangling). Use your other hand to hold his back in place, and gently apply
pressure with the hand under his belly.
Change the scenery: The rhythmic sound or motion of car trips,
stroller rides or swings may do the trick, as well as steady background noise
from a vacuum cleaner, washing machine or radio. If car rides work but you
can't get out, there's a product you can hang on the crib that simulates
vehicle sound and vibrations. (One such device is SleepTight, made by Sweet
Dreems, Inc., of Westerville, Ohio. A motion and sound unit costs $129.95 plus
shipping; a motion unit and cassette tape goes for $89.95; call 1-800-NOCOLIC
for more information.)
Take a break: Friends, relatives or responsible babysitters are a
great source of relief, especially if parental patience is wearing thin. "I
didn't want to burden anybody with a screaming baby," says Cherry, "but
what you often don't realize is that another person is not nearly as bothered
as you are to hear your baby cry."
If all else fails, Dr. Squires urges a sense of humor. When you don't know
whether to laugh, cry or take a picture, he says, the latter clearly has its
benefits. "You want to capture this behavior so that when it's time for the
bachelor party, it comes back at 'em -- 'We had fun with you, but I'll tell
you, this is what you looked like.'"