When describing colic, many pediatricians use the “rule of threes”: crying more than three hours a day, for at least three days a week, for more than three weeks. But even if your baby isn’t meeting the “criteria,” he may still be suffering. If your tot can’t be calmed for long stretches of time on a consistent basis and you sense something isn’t right, chances are you’re looking at colic. Priscilla Dunstan, author of Calm the Crying: The Secret Baby Language That Reveals the Hidden Meaning Behind an Infant’s Cry, shares her tips for identifying a colicky cry and comforting a hurting infant. (Note: Although these strategies are a good place to start, suspected colic is reason enough to see your pediatrician.)
- When babies are suffering from colic, you will tend to hear the phonetic sound “eairh” within their cry. This is a forceful cry that can come on rapidly and is often present in the early evening. You will also notice that the baby’s stomach is hard and his body is rigid and difficult to hold. When this sound is heard, it’s best to concentrate on holds that help to relieve gas and offer comfort to the stomach area.
- Try to keep your baby upright as much as possible, and burp your baby whenever he needs it—not just after a feed—especially if the crying regularly starts in the evening or afternoon.
- When the crying is excessive, relieve gas buildup by using a high over-the-shoulder hold where baby’s tummy is pressed up against your shoulder.
- Use the over-the-knee rocking method when it gets to be too much and you need to tune out to recover your patience and sanity. This is as simple as placing your baby over your crossed knee—with his stomach pressed against your top knee—and rubbing his back gently with your hand.
- Try a warm bath to soothe and relax your baby. Add in some lower back baby massage to enhance the effect.