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Don’t Panic: Guide to Handle Baby Colic

Written by: Isabelle Lessard

May 24, 2019

Feeling powerless and not being able to comfort your baby who seems to have a stomach ache can be very difficult for some parents; no one copes with stress the same way. Not only can parents feel helpless, but an escalating sense of urgency in tandem with baby’s rising wails can make thinking and decision-making all the more difficult.

First off, it’s totally normal for a baby to cry. Between 15 and 30 percent of healthy babies cry over three hours a day! The cries vary in intensity depending on the age and usually peak at around 6 weeks before declining in frequency at around 3 months. * Here are some pointers to manage these cries as best as possible, grouped under 5 key words:

  • Warm up: a soothing warmth on the stomach can help. Bundle baby up and gently stroke his belly, use a hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel, or hug him against you in a baby carrier. Skin-to-skin contact is another great idea! You can also lay the baby face down on your forearm.
  • Comfort: talk to your little one in a soft voice; sing lullabies to distract baby from the pain. If your child’s feeding habits (breastfeeding or bottle) are well established, a pacifier can be a good idea as sucking is reassuring to babies. Pay attention to the surroundings to identify and reduce potential irritants (noise, lighting, source of stress, smoking). Don’t be afraid to “spoil” your baby. At this age, infants aren’t capable of manipulating adults; your child just needs your love!
  • Rocking or light vibrations: walk around with your little one in your arms to offer both movement and distraction; rock your baby in a calm environment; a swing or bouncer can also help soothe painful sensations. Another good idea: go for a car ride!
  • Feed differently: babies who feed out of bottles sometimes ingest air, which is definitely a culprit of colic. Make sure to tilt the bottle when you hold it so the nipple is always full of milk. Try keeping feeds small and frequent. Make sure to burp your baby before and after a feed and keep your baby in an upright position afterward.
  • Safety: be patient! Don’t surrender to helplessness. What you’re doing isn’t easy! By avoiding to panic, you are giving your baby what he needs the most: a safe environment. Most importantly, never shake a baby! You need to calm down? Place your child in his crib and leave the room; have some tea, ask for help, breathe, listen to your favourite song! After five minutes when you feel more composed, go back into the room.

If you are still worried about the frequency or nature of the cries, if you suspect a food intolerance, or simply wish to see a doctor, start by writing everything down:

  • What your baby eats or what you eat if you are breastfeeding
  • When your baby is fed
  • When your baby cries
  • Household routines or activities occurring before or during the cries. (Bath time? Difficulty putting a sibling to bed? A parent smoking?)
  • Your baby’s elimination habits (number of diapers per day)

Finally, several resources can help you. Don’t be shy; call your local clinic, Tele-Care 811 or even your pharmacist!

*Source: Perinatal program for the prevention of shaken baby syndrome

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