The crying – oh, the crying. A colicky baby can really drive you to the edge. Failed attempts to soothe her crying may leave you wondering if you are cut out to be a parent after all. But, don’t worry, you are. You just need to arm yourself with some tools to battle each colic-crying outburst.
But, first, let’s define why your colic baby cries.
The most popular theory from scientists lately is an underdeveloped and immature nervous system. I know all women who have given birth can attest to the fact that a baby has a big head. Right?
Wrong. Actually, a baby’s head isn’t big enough to house a brain that is mature enough to have all the survival tools a human infant needs. Their brain is only the size of an apple. The birth canal cannot handle a bigger head (thank God). So, when a baby is born, the only inherent survival skills are sneezing, sucking, swallowing and…. CRYING!
Most babies (80%, that is) are capable of crying for a reason, and then calming themselves down. These are usually what I call “the good sleepers" or “easy babies". They are awake for awhile to learn and accept stimuli. Then they sleep to recover and awake to take in more stimuli.
Unfortunately, a colicky baby is usually NOT a “good sleeper" or an “easy baby". They are high-maintenance. Their nervous system is overloaded with all the sights and sounds of a new world. And by about dinner time, they’ve had it. The crying begins. Once they start crying, they lack the mechanism to calm themselves down. In my experience, most mothers with colicky infants tell the same story. Their baby fights going to sleep. They won’t take a nap. They won’t stay asleep once they do finally go to sleep. These poor babies never take the time to recover from all the stimuli they have taken in over the course of a day.
So this is where you, as a parent, step in. Reduce the environmental stimuli and recreate the feeling your baby had while in the womb.
Remember, in the womb, your baby was packed in tightly. It was dark. It was warm. And the prominent sound she heard was the “whoosh" of blood flowing through the placenta. This “whoosh" is a little louder than the noise of a vacuum cleaner running.
However, there are other items you might have around the house that can lull your over stimulated colic baby to sleep. Most babies can be soothed by rhythmic, monotonous, low-pitched, humming sound that repeats at 60-70 pulses per minute. Here are 10 such items for you to try:
1. A shower running
2. A fan
3. A running dishwasher
4. A running washing machine
5. A very loud, ticking clock
6. A bathroom fan turned on with the light off
7. A metronome set a 60 beats per minute
8. A radio tuned to static
9. A tv tuned to static
10. Smooth jazz or easy listening stations
While listening to these rhythmic sounds, it is best to lower the lights, and make your baby comfortable. Remember, we are trying to recreate the feeling of being in the womb.
Finally, it is true what you read. Baby colic does eventually come to an end. As your baby grows, and their brains increase in size, all of the circuits mature and they learn the survival tools necessary to cope. It only takes about three to six months. In the meantime, when you feel a crying outburst about to happen, turn off the lights…and turn on all your household appliances.
Cherie L. Stirewalt is a colic baby survivor and shares her colic experiences on her website Colic-Baby-Bootcamp.com. The site offers a one-of-a-kind white noise download and white noise CD to help frustrated parents cope with their fussy baby fast!
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