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What Every New Parent Needs to Know About Colic

Just the word colic can fill you with dread as a new parent. It is so common that we all know at least one exhausted mum struggling with a colicky baby, but all is not lost. Although there is no known cure, there are ways you can help soothe and relieve a baby with colic symptoms.

In this post we will explain what it is, give you some tips to deal with it, including a short massage routine which can help alleviate colic symptoms, and hopefully some reassurance to help you through what we know can be a stressful time.

What is colic?

First though you need to understand what it is and why occurs. Colic is difficult to actually pin point and so is simply the name to describe excessive crying. A baby who is healthy in all other aspects but who cries for more than three hours at a time is considered to be suffering with colic.

It is associated with abdominal pain and usually starts when a baby is a few weeks old and stops by 4 months. Occasionally some very unlucky babies continue to have symptoms up to 6 months old.

Look out for the following symptoms;

  • Crying for up to three hour’s non-stop usually in the late afternoon or evening.

  • A red and flushed crying face

  • Clenched fists

  • Drawn up knees

  • Arching back

it is common for these symptoms to occur at a similar time each day, often early evening, but can be at any time.

What to do as a parent

A baby with colic seems in pain and distress but it is important to reassure yourself that they will not come to any harm. Even when you know this, it can still be very upsetting to deal with and it is normal to feel helpless.

Remember that it is not your fault. 1 in 5 babies suffer with this condition; you are not doing anything wrong and neither is your baby. Also remind yourself that it won’t last forever and make sure you give yourself the opportunity to look after your own well-being. Asking for help can be difficult but getting the right rest will benefit both you and your baby long term as you will have the energy to deal with the colic symptoms better.

How to help my colicky baby?

There is no actual cure; the best you can hope to do is alleviate the symptoms.

There's no one method that works for all babies with colic symptoms, every baby is different and what works for one won’t work the same on the next but here are 5 tips that may help;

  • Hold your baby as they cry

  • Make sure you wind your baby well during and at the end of a feed

  • Hold your baby over your shoulder with their stomach pressed down firmly on you

  • Bath baby in warm water

  • Massage their abdominal area regularly

How massage can help

Regular, gentle tummy massage can promote good digestion and reduce gastric pain. It also soothes the nerves and muscles within the abdomen and is good for the organs.

The video below demonstrates a short routine that can be particularly effective in relieving the symptoms or colic or reducing their severity.

The effects of the routine are cumulative, so results may not be immediate, but if done daily then symptoms should start to reduce within a few days and gradually improve until stopping completely. If your baby tends to have a regular time when they experience these symptoms try to perform this routine each day an hour or so before this time. If there is no pattern to the symptoms, then try the routine at a regular time each day, and over the course of a few days or in some cases more, the symptoms should become less severe and for many disappear completely.

Massage Routine for Colic Relief

It is thought that for some babies colic symptoms are a result of not being able to release tension that builds up in the digestive system. The action of pressing the legs in towards the body and holding them there is designed to increase tension in this area, and babies can often be seen pulling their knees in towards them when they are feeling discomfort. By then straightening and stretching out the legs the tension is released, encouraging baby to relax the area, and helping them to learn the difference between the feeling of tension and relaxation so that they can learn to release the pressure themselves.

Throughout the routine, and especially when stretching out the legs, maintain as much eye contact as possible with your baby and talk or sing to them to soothe, reassure and help them to relax.

Further Benefits of Massage in Calming Your Baby

Sharing massage regularly with your baby can really help you to bond and get to know each other, and when it becomes part of their regular routine, your baby will learn to relax and enjoy the special attention they are receiving through your touch. Paying close attention to your baby during this time can also help you to notice the ways they are constantly communicating with you, through sounds, body language, facial expressions and movements, allowing you to respond to their needs more quickly and often before they get to the point of becoming upset or crying.

When to ask a doctor for help

The tips above can provide real relief for you and your baby but if you are worried at all then don’t hesitate to contact your health visitor or GP, they are there to help and will be able to reassure you. They will also be able to provide any additional help if your baby has a condition other than colic for example GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease) or eczema.

Learn massage and so much more at Tots Play

At Tots Play we know that life with a new baby has lots of ups and downs, but our aim is to help you navigate this very special time in the best way for you both, with tips and ideas to support you through the challenging parts while helping you make the most of those wonderful moments.

Our Baby Development course is a great starting point for you and your little one in the early stages of your journey together, and is designed especially for younger babies from birth to 6 months.

Running over 6 weeks, the course is the perfect opportunity to enjoy special time with your new baby, in a calm, relaxed and friendly small group environment, with the chance to make new friends with parents with a baby of a similar age.

As part of the course you will be shown a simple massage routine to help you calm, connect and communicate with your baby, including more details on using massage to help relieve colic and digestive problems, but that's just the start.

The course also includes:

Baby Yoga – stretches, poses and movements to both stimulate and soothe baby,

Baby Sign Language, to aid communication with your baby.

Effective Ways To Use Songs and Rhymes

Play Activities to Boost Sensory and Body Awareness – using a variety of everyday items to aid learning

Tummy Time Techniques – why tummy time is important and how to make it more effective and fun

Calming Techniques and lots more.

Read more about the Tots Play Baby Development Course and it's benefits HERE.

Courses run regularly throughout the year, and could be just what you need to help support your baby's growth and development while providing a tool box of ideas to help you through these early weeks and months, and a place to find a supportive group of friends, who are all going through the same emotions of this early stage of parenthood. Click HERE to find a course near you and get in touch to book your place today.

Whether today is a day when you are comforting your crying baby or enjoying their smiles and giggles, enjoy your special time together and happy playing!

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