Sometimes your baby cries for seemingly no reason at all.
Often called colic, persistent crying of this nature usually occurs between 3 weeks and 3 months of age and usually takes place in the late afternoon, evening or at night.
Your baby may seem calm and healthy during the day, but at night they can become hard to comfort, cry for hours and appear to be in discomfort or have stomach pain.
There are many opinions as to what causes colic – one theory is that trapped wind is causing stomach pain, another is that the crying often causes wind – and so the problem makes itself worse, and others say that ‘colic’ doesn’t really exist at all.
But whatever it’s called, persistent crying is tiring and upsetting for parents and babies.
If your baby seems to have stomach discomfort at other times of the day, the issue may be reflux or lactose intolerance. If you are in anyway concerned about your child’s health, you should seek professional advice from your child health nurse or doctor.
Ideas for Colic Relief
- Try to comfort your baby and check that their crying is not due to other reasons such as:
- dirty nappy
- Hold your baby and try comfort techniques such as:
- rocking in a rocking chair
- holding baby over your arm, face down, and gently rubbing their back
- soft, rhythmic music
- putting baby in a baby sling and going for a walk
- whisper to divert their attention from crying
- soothing sounds, such as “rainmaker” toys
- if you are getting anxious or frustrated, pass your baby to a partner or support person – baby can pick up on your feelings and a fresh carer could calm them down
- If the crying happens regularly at the same time of day/night, make sure that you are prepared with help at hand or dinner finished already so that you can relax and just spend time with your baby, if needed
- Baby massage – particular massage techniques on the stomach area in particular, can help calm baby down and remove any discomfort. We suggest seeking professional advice from a local baby masseur to get the technique correct. You can also find guides online, but seeing a professional is usually best.
- Feeding – some people think that colic is caused by air being taken in during feeding – check your breastfeeding technique or, if you are bottlefeeding baby, try an anti-colic bottle.
- For breastfed babies, observe if the colic seems to be worse with certain things in mum’s diet – in particular, caffeine in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and energy drinks.
- Try herbal ‘colic relief’ preparations or ‘gripe water’ available from pharmacies. These products are generally based on the assumption that colic is the result of gut issues and these preparations seek to calm down gut irritations and trapped wind (always discuss the symptoms with your pharmacist before giving any remedy and ensure that you follow the manufacturers’ usage instructions).
- Read what other parent’s are doing to help relieve colic in our forum discussion area
Colic usually seems to cure itself at about 3 months old. If you have any concerns about your child’s health, see professional medical advice.
If the crying is getting you down, ensure that you get support and take a break from the crying, by sharing care with a partner or, if necessary, placing the baby down in a safe place, such as a cot, whilst you take a quick breather.