If your young baby is crying a lot and you are worried they might be unwell you should always seek medical advice. Have a look at the Lullaby Trust is My Baby Ill Checklist *here*
Colic is the name we give to the symptoms when an otherwise well and thriving baby cries a lot. A baby might have colic if;
- They cry for more than 3 hours a day.
- On 3 days or more each week.
- This carries on for at least a week.
It usually begins when a baby is a few weeks old and will mostly have passed by the time they are 4-6 months old. As well as crying you might notice they;
- Seem very ‘tense’ clenching their fists and having a red face.
- Bring their knees up to their tummy.
- Arch their backs.
- Be ‘windy’ (trumping) and have a rumbling tummy.
You might notice their crying is worse at certain times of the day or night.
A baby with colic is really hard to settle. It can be very tiring and stressful for parents and carers.
Things That Can Help
If you think your baby has colic there are some things you can do that can help.
- Cuddle your baby; take it in turns with your partner or family. You will not spoil your baby. You will let them know you care that they are crying - and want to make it better.
- Wind your baby during feeds and at the end – hold your baby upright to help any wind pass through. Sucking a dummy helps some babies.
- Be careful not to over-feed your baby – it can be easy to do when you are trying everything to settle them. Find out more about feeding cues *here*.
- Gently rock your baby in your arms / pram / Moses basket.
- Try a warm bath for your baby (you could get in together).
- Some babies benefit from baby massage. Ask your health visitor for information about local classes. This video gives some simple massage tips.
Some babies respond well to background noise like soft music. Other babies like ‘white noise’ –you could try an out of tune radio.
It helps some babies to be in a very calm environment – dim the lights, turn off the TV and you can both try and relax (deep, slow breaths help stressed parents!).
It can be really hard when you can’t settle your baby – it can really knock your confidence. Get help for yourself.
- Talk to friends and family – a lot of them will know what you are going through and be there to support you. You could join our online Parent Community on Just One Norfolk *here*.
- Call Just One Number to speak to a health professional from our service.
- Get out of the house when you can – fresh air and a change of scene will help you both.
- Have a look at the free Online Solihull Parenting Course *here* – it can really help your confidence and reassure you that you are doing all you can.
If you find you are feeling ‘wound up’ by your baby’s crying;
- Put them somewhere safe – like their Moses basket / cot.
- Go into another room until the feeling has passed. Try the calming breathing exercises *here*.
- Call on your family and friends to give you a break if at all possible.
- Contact Just One Number to talk to a health professional. You will not be judged for seeking help. People understand caring for a crying baby is really tough.
Looking after yourself is important and helps you look after your baby. Although it might not feel like it at the time the colicky stage will pass for your baby and for you.
There is more information about crying on our 'All Babies Cry' page.