Curing Colic, Maybe

Laura Markham's picture

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"I buy the idea that babies need another month or two in a womb-like environment to mature. But what do I do to create a womb-like environment for my baby?"

These are techniques to use when your baby cries, but they are also preventive tools to keep your infant from getting over-stimulated all day long:

  1. Hold or wear your baby as much as you can. As Dr. Sears says: "In counseling parents of fussy babies, we strive for two goals: to mellow the temperament of the baby and to increase the sensitivity of the parents. Babywearing helps foster both of these goals. By creating an organized, womblike, environment, wearing lessens a baby's need to cry." An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  2. Swaddle your baby. Most babies like to be wrapped securely. It reminds them of their snug womb. And of course they love slings.

  3. Rhythmic motion: Again, reminiscent of the womb. Rocking works for some babies, but most of the time when they're upset, more intense motion is called for. Some parents swear by baby swings, others by putting the baby in a car seat and driving. But these techniques have their limits, usually the infant needs to be held at the same time that they're moving. Some parents dance, some go up and down steps, some jump on mattresses, many develop the bobbing, swaying motion I call the Mom's dance. Experiment to see what works for your baby.

  4. White Noise: Soothing sounds can muffle or block out the jarring traffic horns or even voices that can jangle and over-stimulate baby nerves. I found new age chanting to be effective, some people swear by their vacuum cleaner or white noise machine, others just whisper repetitive shushing noises. Keep trying until you find something that helps your baby.

  5. Nurse your baby. For some babies, nursing is a guaranteed instant soother. Why work any harder than that if you don't have to? And, for the record, babies fed on a schedule are more likely to have colic. Feed your baby whenever he or she asks, and colic is less likely.

  6. Explore other "cures."Some babies have food allergies, and if you change the formula, or if the breastfeeding mother changes her diet, it can help. Sometimes a diet free of cows milk, wheat, or other common allergens is a miracle cure. Every parent of a colicky baby should try probiotics, as outlined above. Some moms swear by infant massage. If you try all these suggestions and your baby keeps crying, by all means talk to your doctor, and keep asking the parents you know what worked for them. And hang in there. Sooner or later, your little screamer will be a perfectly charming baby.

Dr. Laura Markham