Originally posted here.
What Parents Need to Know
Are some babies more susceptible to colic? A number of theories exist, but none have been proven conclusively. Infants of both sexes, bottle-fed and breast feed, all experience colic in the same numbers. According to the Mayo Clinic, increased risk of colic is not linked to:
- First-time parents: First-time parent are no more likely to have a colicky baby than experienced parents, although colic may be especially stressful for new parents.
- Breast-feeding: If you are breast-feeding, your baby’s colic probably is not the result of something you are eating.
- Formula feeding: Formula is usually not the cause of colic, although special formulas can help some babies.
- Lactose intolerance: Most babies have some degree of lactose intolerance, but the connection to colic is not clear-cut.
Colicky babies are extremely hard to comfort. There are no medical remedies, but several traditional techniques may help. The Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital recommends:
- Try rocking, cradling or cuddling your baby close to you.
- Use a close fitting infant carrier or gently swaddle your infant in a baby blanket.
- Rock or swing your baby rhythmically in an infant swing.
- Take the baby for a car ride with the child securely fastened in a car seat.
- Play soft music or sing to them in a soft, soothing voice.
- Hold your baby and bottle upright so that as little air goes into your baby as possible.
- Switching from breastfeeding to formula, or vice versa, rarely helps; but if you think changing the formula might help, discuss it with your doctor.
If you have tried these techniques with little success, you may want to consider Dr. Karp’s “5 S’s System.” According to Dr. Karp, to sooth a crying infant, recreating the womb environment helps the baby feel more secure and calm. Dr. Karp recommends:
- Swaddling: Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support your baby is used to experiencing within the womb.
- Side/stomach position: The infant is placed on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. “But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep,” cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach down position do not leave them even for a moment.
- Shushing sounds: These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.
- Swinging: Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother’s womb, so entering the gravity driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. “It’s disorienting and unnatural,” says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.
- Sucking: “Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system,” notes Karp, “and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain.”