After welcoming a sweet newborn, every parent’s dream is for their baby to be the exception to the rule. .. the one who sleeps soundly, who wakes up easily for nighttime feedings then goes right back to sleep, who is bright-eyed and adorable during the day, happy to have their toys rattled in front of them, and coos to the sounds of your voice.
Unfortunately, we don’t all get quite as lucky, and babies will cry and be fussy. However, if your baby is crying uncontrollably in large chunks throughout the day, that’s a whole other animal, called “colic,” and something that is likely toying with your sanity.
We spoke with Dr. Rallie McAllister, nanobebe ambassador and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, who shed a bit more light on colic for us and shared her best tips for helping to alleviate the symptoms.
Check out her thoughts and tips below (and godspeed).
What Is the Cause of Colic?
Dr. Rallie says, “The cause of colic is a mystery.” However, it’s possible “it might be caused by food allergies or intolerances, imbalances of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, or anxiety and stress.”
Symptoms of Colic
You’ll likely know that your baby is colicky when you can’t wrap your head around the sheer amount of time they’re spending crying (push through, parents, you’ve got this!), but colic is typically defined as “crying for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks. It causes intense crying, for no apparent reason. Babies with colic appear tense, and they do things like pulling up their legs, arching their back, and clenching their fists.”
Ways to Alleviate the Symptoms of Colic
Unfortunately, Dr. Rallie says, “You can’t prevent colic,” but there are a few strategies you can try to help soothe your baby. “Calming strategies might help, such as walking and rocking your baby. Some babies like to be massaged or swaddled. White noises like a fan or vacuum can help,” she said.
Dr. Harvey Karp, cofounder of Happiest Baby, added interesting thoughts about white noise in particular in a Q and A on colic: “In the womb, the baby has a nonstop symphony of sensations. .. and hears the nonstop sound of the blood flow, which is louder than a vacuum cleaner, 24/7. So to bring a baby into your house and put them in a dark, quiet room by themselves is actually sensory depriving. Some kids can tolerate that, and some kids just fall apart without the stimulation that they had inside the womb.”
If all of the above tactics fail, Dr. Rallie suggests you “consider talking with your doctor about your baby’s diet, and your diet if you are breastfeeding.”