What causes colic?
We aren't too sure what exactly causes colic. Some theories include:
- A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
- Hormones that cause stomach pain or a fussy mood
- Over-sensitivity or over-stimulation by light, noise, etc.
- A moody baby
- A still-developing nervous system
Remember, these are all theories and every baby is different, which is why there isn't one answer on the best way to treat a colicky baby. However, this study of exclusively breastfed infants suggests that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri greatly reduced crying time in colicky infants. It is important to note that there have been studies for other treatments, however double blind or placebo controlled studies were not done at the time of my research to verify the results of these treatments. In addition, there are other reasons why a baby might be fussy including food allergies, an infection, inflammation, etc. If you are concerned with your baby's colic it is important to talk to your doctor to rule out any medical concerns.
How can I soothe my colicky baby? The best way to sooth your baby is with the 5 S's.
I like to call this the baby burrito. Swaddling is the cornerstone of calming. Wrapped baby's will respond faster to the other 4 S's and stay soothed longer as long as their arms are wrapped tightly and can't wiggle. Wrap their hips to be loose. Baby's should not be swaddled all day or for long periods of time, just while they are sleeping or if they are fussy.
2. Side or Stomach Position
While holding baby, put them on their side or on their stomach over your shoulder. Remember that the back is considered the safest position during sleep.
Your baby has spent the last 9 months hearing muffled sounds from inside your womb, so some white noise and shushing sounds will bring comfort to baby. White noise is not all the same however, ocean sounds and fan noises may not do the trick. The best way to imitate the sounds from inside the womb is to "shush." close to their ear and at the volume at which they are crying. Contrary to popular belief, silence is not calming for baby.
Like the shushing sound, recreating what life in the womb is like is very comforting. For the last nine months they have jiggled around as you walked around, climbed steps, etc. so faster, tiny motions are more productive at calming baby than slower rocking. Remember, never shake a baby.
Many fussy babies will fall into a deep relaxation when they suck, either a pacifier or if you breastfeed and it's meal time, offer your breast.
Check out this video for a quick example of the 5S's.