Soothe your crying baby (and tell if he has colic)

Four things that are great for stopping baby’s tears. We also tell you how to survive the crying storm that is colic (and prevent it).

Babies-Soothe-your-crying-baby-(and-tell-if-he-has-colic)
Get moving
Try different forms of movement until you discover what your newborn likes. Rock your baby or dance with them. Try bouncing them gently in your arms or on a bed. If all else fails, a ride in the car or stroller can soothe.

Make some noise
Sound can be a big help. Sing to your baby, put the radio or TV on, turn on the vacuum or let a tap run loudly into a bowl for a short while.

Have a word
Really. Try lifting them up so they can see your eyes, and telling them that you understand they are tired/anxious and you are there. Of course, it doesn’t feed the baby or change their diaper — get those done, first.

Stay calm
Sometimes, baby just cries and cries (see the fifth, sixth and eighth reasons in Is he hungry or wet? How to interpret baby’s cries).

About colic
Prolonged crying in the first four months of a baby’s life is sometimes referred to as colic. Although it occurs in 10 to 15 per cent of babies and can turn a family’s life upside down, all children outgrow the condition with no lasting physical or emotional problems. It usually begins in the first few weeks of life and lasts until your baby is around three months old.

            Some people believe colic is caused by problematic digestion as the gastro-intestinal tract matures. Babies often lift their knees to their tummies as if in pain, pass wind and get red in the face. And surely we all remember getting a spoonful or two of Woodward’s Gripe Water as young’uns… But the key characteristic of colic is inconsolable crying, often for hours.

            Some experts say it’s caused more by tiredness and over-stimulation than actual tummyache, which is why it often strikes at the end of the day.

            One remedy, over-the-counter preparations would include Rid Wind or Infacol, which are thought to help relieve trapped wind, and Woodward’s Gripe Water, which is made from soothing herbs such as dill and fennel, and sodium bicarbonate to neutralise stomach acid (it does not have alcohol or opiates or whatever you may have heard from older relatives).

           A small number of babies have lactose intolerance, an inability to absorb the sugars in milk. Ask your GP or nursing advisor for advice. Also, specially designed bottles and teats reduce the amount of air a baby takes in while feeding, which is thought to be another possible cause of colic.

           Lastly, try rubbing your child’s tummy softly in a clockwise direction — the same way that food moves round the gut.

Going back to the womb
US baby expert Dr Harvey Karp believes colic is a baby’s reaction to being out of the safety and comfort of the womb. In his book Baby Bliss- Your One-Stop Guide for the First Three Months and Beyond, he recommends “the cuddle cure” ⎯ replicating pre-birth conditions to soothe a crying baby. This can be summed up as “The five Ss” approach-

* Swaddling — Wrapping tightly in blankets or a sheet, to make the baby feel secure.
* Side (or stomach) position — Holding the baby horizontally, sideways across your stomach, with lots of bodily contact for reassurance.
* Shhhhh — Making a steady shushing noise (it’s noisy in the womb).
* Swinging or rocking the baby, as they’re used to plenty of movement from being carried inside you.
* Sucking a thumb, pacifier or a bottle or your breast, all of which will soothe newborns.

Photo: iStock

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