As the Mayo Clinic explains, “Colic is a frustrating condition marked by predictable periods of significant distress in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby.” As if being a new parent isn’t stressful enough, colic symptoms—like intense crying for no explainable reason—can make it even more overwhelming. My daughter was so calm at birth the nurses had to coax her to cry, but by two weeks old, my mellow girl suddenly became a fussy, high-needs colicky baby.
Between short bouts of sleep and feedings, she wanted nothing more than to be constantly held. Luckily, she was small enough that I could hold her in one arm and hold my phone in the other, frantically Googling everything I could find on colic remedies (how moms coped before smartphones is beyond me). After sufficient research and trial and error, I found a few natural ways to provide relief for both my baby and myself.
Swaddling (a.k.a. the Baby Burrito)
Using a swaddle was one of the best methods I found to help my daughter sleep calmly without having to be in my arms each time. Swaddling was actually a method I used from day one, but I didn’t realize just how important it was to wrap my daughter up like a burrito until the fussiness set in. I never quite mastered the art of swaddling her with a basic blanket, but luckily I discovered one of the greatest baby inventions: velcro swaddles. I promptly sent my husband to buy a dozen of them.
After months of being cradled in your ever-growing womb, babies get used to constant movement. Rocking and bouncing can be a great tool for calming any newborn, but as I quickly discovered, it’s also instrumental in soothing a colicky baby. There are dozens of ways to keep your baby in motion, from using a rocker to bouncing on an exercise ball with him or her in your arms. Many infants also calm down on a car ride or a walk in the stroller. If one method doesn’t work, keep trying until you find another that does. Keep in mind enough rocking and swaying can put your arms to sleep faster than your child, so you may want to consider a baby swing. For me, the combination of a swaddle and baby swing is often just the relief I need.
It’s a simple fact that babies like to be held, and no matter how much your hands-on relative tries to convince you otherwise, holding your baby will not spoil him or her. Your arms and back, however, can put up a strong, exhausted fight against constant baby carrying. “Baby wearing” frees up your arms and still keeps your child close enough for plenty of comfort. After weeks of being cooped up at home and wary of venturing out into the world with a fussy newborn, a baby carrier became my savior. Using a baby wrap kept her happy and snuggled close to me, enabling us to take some much-needed long walks around our neighborhood.
Coping with Stress
One of the hardest parts of caring for a colicky baby is dealing with the anxiety it can bring. I constantly worried I was doing something wrong; it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and it’s okay to ask for help. Reaching out to family, friends, and even random members of parenting groups can give you a tremendous amount of support. It’s hard to be a good parent when you start to forget about your own needs. Carving out some downtime today is crucial to your attentiveness tomorrow, even if it’s as simple as taking an extra-long shower while your spouse watches your baby.
When in doubt, talk to your doctor and trust your instincts if you think something is wrong. It took me a while to realize my daughter’s discomfort wasn’t typical, but when I finally spoke with a physician, we were able to determine that much of her colic symptoms stemmed from reflux and a dairy protein allergy—nothing we couldn’t handle.
Even when it doesn’t feel like it, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Colic doesn’t last forever, but amid your frustration in future milestones, all the difficulties of parenthood are nothing compared to the bliss of watching your baby grow.
What are some natural colic remedies that worked for you? Share your stories in the comments!
Image source: Sher WarkentinThis article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Tom’s of Maine.