One of the hardest things to deal with in the early months of parenthood is long bouts of inconsolable crying, thought to affect up to a fifth of babies, and known as infant colic.
As it tends to strike daily (typically in the late afternoon or evening), and often lasts for up to three months, a baby with colic can run poor parents ragged.
What will help soothe symptoms of colic?
Giving her an over-the-counter preparation like Infacol, Colief or gripe water.The truth is, there’s nothing that will definitely help to ease colic in your baby. But there are some things that might:
- If you’re bottle feeding, aiming to reduce the amount of air your baby’s taking in by experimenting with anti-colic teats or bottles, and keeping the bottle upright during feeds so milk is always covering the neck. In the rare instance of an intolerance or allergy causing the problem, switching formula may help – but never try this without seeking medical advice first.
- If breastfeeding, taking care to let her drain the whole breast, before offering her the other one. (One specific theory is that babies who fill up on too much fore milk – the watery stuff that comes out of the boob first during a feed – at the expense of the more filling hind-milk, may end up feeding more frequently and are then likely to take in more milk than their tummies can tolerate.) You could also try cutting out anything from your diet that seems linked: dairy products, spicy dishes, caffeine, alcohol, strong-tasting veg like cabbage, sprouts and onions, wheat, and citrus fruits or juices are the usual suspects.
- Checking with your GP, to rule out any possible medical causes.
When colic and crying gets you down
A baby who cries excessively and inconsolably can push her parents to the limits. If you’re affected, try to remind yourself that this phase won’t last forever. Get as much help as you can to deal with it in the meantime. And reassure yourself that it will ease eventually – typically by the time your baby is 12 to 14 weeks old. (Do seek the advice of your health visitor or GP, though, if it goes on for longer than that as further investigation may be needed.)
If you ever find yourself at breaking point, put your baby in her cot or some other safe place, and leave the room for a while.