Finding Relief With a Colicky Baby
When caring for a colicky baby, it's important for parents to take care of themselves, too. Here's how you can find some relief amidst all the crying.
Your newborn has been crying for hours, and it feels like he will never stop. You're physically and emotionally exhausted, and you haven't slept through the night in days. You suspect you have a colicky baby on your hands, but you aren't sure where to turn. What do you do? During these times, it's important to remain calm. Remember that you're not alone. Remember that all babies cry. Remember that colic is temporary, and it is not your fault. And remember that you have to take care of yourself, too. Here's how you can find some relief amidst all the crying.
- Get a Doctor's Advice
Check in with the pediatrician to make sure nothing is wrong with your baby (besides all the crying!). Most babies seem to cry a lot, says Dr. Michael Hobaugh, president of the medical staff and chief medical officer at La Rabida Children's Hospital. "If it is just fussiness ... it's not harmful. It can drive a parent crazy, but it's not necessarily hurting the baby at all to be fussy," he says. If your baby is clean, dry, fed and otherwise healthy, yet he cries for hours, you may just need to accept that this is a temporary phase in your baby's development. Colic isn't normal fussiness, but it's not your fault, and it won't harm your baby. Awful as this stage is, it thankfully won't last forever.
- Take a Breather
When you have tried everything and still can't soothe your baby, it's important to take time for yourself. Dr. Hobaugh suggests, "Swaddle the baby, shush him a little bit, give him a little kiss and lay him down in their cradle on their back, and go take a breather and calm yourself down." It's OK to take a break when you need it. You should consider investing in a video monitor if you plan to leave the room. Impossible as it seems, you really do need to sleep when the baby is sleeping. It may seem like that's the only quiet time you get to tackle tasks -- or to just enjoy the peace and quiet -- but offload as much of your to-do list as possible and just try to get some rest. Maybe you can hire some household help for a few weeks or months until this phase passes.
- Seek Out Support
Finding support from family and friends is another way to deal with the stress of a colicky baby. Ask someone -- a relative, a mother's helper, a friend -- to step in during the crying episodes so you can get away from the sound for a little while. If you can't leave the house, hand over the baby and step into the shower. The hot water can help you relax, and you won't be able to hear the crying. Or just sit outside for a few minutes.
You can find support from online communities, too. Dr. Kate Morrison, a naturopathic doctor, mother and co-founder of Kabrita, says, "I would certainly encourage moms to do some searching for an online group that you can be a part of to get more information." Connecting with others can uplift your spirits and encourage you during the difficult times, even if you're still listening to the crying.
- Go Out With Friends
When you're in the midst of these hectic times, try to find some real time for yourself away from the baby. Connect with other moms, and have a girls' night out. Ask your family to watch your baby for a few hours while you get some rest and relaxation. Catch a movie, take a much-needed nap or pamper yourself with a mani/pedi. Go for a long walk alone or with a friend. Remember, it's OK to find time for yourself! You'll come back to your baby feeling refreshed.
- Take Care of Your Physical Health
Lastly, be intentional about caring for yourself. Being well-rested and eating healthy food is vital. Dr. Morrison stresses that "Self-care is absolutely critically important. Make sure that you get sufficient time away from the crying to really get grounded and re-energized as much as possible." Being a new parent is tough, especially when your baby cries a lot. It's OK to take a break, ask for help and find time for yourself in your busy schedule. You need to, for your sake and your baby's. This phase will pass. Take care of yourself in the meantime.
Overwhelmed by the crying? Here's How to Cope.
Lauren Gaines is a freelance writer, blogger and school psychologist. She has written for local and national publications and enjoys sharing her journey in parenthood.
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