If they've been fed and changed, aren't too hot or too cold, and not ill, it might be because they have colic. It may be worth familiarising yourself with the signs of colic, and what to do when you think your baby has it.
About 15 % of all babies suffer from colic, and unfortunately no one really knows why. Some doctors think the baby’s immature digestive system causes them to have cramp in their tummies, it may also be caused by babies eating too fast, or too much, or be a reaction to the diet of the mother. Some doctors believe that if mum eats too much spicy food, certain vegetables such as cabbage and onions, fruit, caffeine or cow’s milk, her baby may be more likely to suffer from colic.
Colic can be hard to cope with; baby may cry for hours and be difficlt to settle. Colic can start any time from two weeks after birth and can usually last for up to three months. There are several signs of colic that parents can look out for, the first being that baby cries at the same time every day, often in the afternoon and often for three hours or more. The baby may bring their feet up under their body, clench their fists and act like their tummy hurts. You may be able to hear or feel rumbling in their belly, and they may produce a lot of wind.
Colic is not the only reason for babies crying for hours though, so make sure you consult a doctor if your baby is crying for long periods of time.
There are no real cures for colic as it is not really understood what causes it, but there are a number of things you can do to help relieve your baby’s symptoms. Some colicky babies like being rocked in a chair or carried in a sling, and singing to your baby may help calm them down. Some babies like monotonous noises like the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine or a car ride. Massaging your baby’s stomach, in slow circles from left to right (not from right to left as you’ll force the gas back into their tummies!) may help them to pass wind and relieve the pressure. Also, don’t forget to wind your baby often as well whilst they are feeding.
If your baby is bottle fed, you may want to try anti-colic teats, or a smaller teat size to reduce the flow of milk, making your baby drink more slowly. Try a different brand of formula: sometimes babies suit one more than another. If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to consider changing your diet to work out if certain foods have a bad effect. It may take up to two days for changes in your diet to affect your milk, so give it time.
The biggest effect of colic is often the stress it inflicts on the parents. Take turns with the baby so each partner gets a break, and try not to worry too much. Talk to friends and relatives to find out what worked for them. Above all, don’t forget that colic is only a phase, it will pass, and your baby will eventually grow out of it.