First, exclude other reasons for the baby's crying. Make sure the infant isn't running a fever, isn't lethargic, is eating normally and isn't having any trouble breathing. Your pediatrician will also want to exclude GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which can occur among babies (although it is much more common among adults). The good news about colic is that what you see is what you get - a fussy, crying but otherwise perfectly healthy baby. Some doctors think that this irritating phase may be part of normal development. Between 5 and 28 percent of infants develop colic between when they are two to six weeks old, and usually outgrow it by the time they are three to four months old.
Here are Dr. Russell Greenfield's suggestions for dealing with colic - and with the frustration it can breed among parents:
- Try massage therapy, a great way to enhance bonding between parent and child at a time when colic may be interfering with the bonding process.
- Rock your baby rhythmically.
- Turn on music or try the clothes dryer or vacuum cleaner. Sometimes the white noise they produce helps.
- Try cranial osteopathy or homeopathy; both may help and are safe forms of treatment.
- Try herbal remedies such as cooled chamomile or fennel tea. You can get tea bags at the health food store and give the baby one to two ounces at a time, no more than three to four ounces per day.
- Switch to a cow's milk-free formula, or, if breast feeding, change the mother's diet to affect what is entering her breast milk (in some cases, a food sensitivity may play a role).
- Swaddle your baby - it provides a nice snug feeling.
- Chill - find a way to relax; try breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques to lower your frustration level.
By the way, the latest international report on colic comes from a Canadian study that found that mothers don't appear to sustain any lasting psychological effects as a result of dealing with a colicky infant.