Colic is a word that is often used for a baby who cries for any length of time, but did you know that it’s normal for babies to have a fussy period every day, often called the witching hour? While it’s distressing for any parent to hear her baby cry, sometimes understanding that the behavior is a normal part of infant development can be helpful. However, there are times when the behavior may be caused by something else, and even though the cause isn’t always immediately understood, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the symptoms of colic.
Welcome back to our new series, I’ve Had My Baby - Now What? This is a guide with basic information to help you navigate the first days, weeks, and months of breastfeeding your new baby.
Today we’d like to talk about weeks 3 through 6 of your baby’s life, and what breastfeeding looks like. What can you expect for normal behavior from your new baby, and when do you know there’s a problem that you should seek professional help for?
Witten by Lindsey Hurd, MS, RD, LDN, IBCLC, and Owner of Angel Food Lactation & Nutrition, LLC
From a gassy gut to red inflamed skin, breastfeeding moms often question the influence of their diet on behavior and symptoms in their little one. There’s no denying the influx of food sensitivities and allergies in children and adults, but what about the smallest members of our society? In my practice, I see many families who have infants showing signs of food intolerance, often times leading to symptoms such as eczema, bloody stools, sleeplessness, reflux, digestive discomfort from gassiness, abdominal pressure, and the infamous mucus-filled stool. “Is it something I ate?” mom asks. “Is it a virus or bacterial infection?” “Where did this come from? She was fine a week ago!” The world of food sensitivities is vast and perplexing, yet we are beginning to find our way as we learn more and more from our families each day. Over the next few months, I will be sharing a little insight into theories of why we are seeing this influx, how babies receive components of mom’s diet in her milk, and what we can do about it.
‘Help a Mama Out’ Topic of the Week: What are Your Best Tips for Surviving Your Baby’s Witching Hours?
Ashley: Wearing the baby during the evening hours. Prepping dinner earlier in the day so that I didn’t have to do it during my baby’s fussy time. Setting aside special activities for my then 3-year old that she could do on her own or with little help from me, just in case I needed to be sitting on the couch, constantly nursing the baby. Reminding myself that this was temporary and would pass!
Karen: Feeding a little at a time, more frequently. I read when #4 had HORRIBLE colic that there are some cultures where babies never experience colic. In all of these communities, babies are worn and are on and off the boob all day, so they eat small meals very frequently.
Kat: Support from my husband was really crucial during this time. I would nurse my son and concentrate on him while my husband got dinner ready. Holding and wearing baby helped the most. Also, fresh air worked wonders!
Lori: Babywearing…. I would also batch cook on the weekend when Daddy was home so that come dinner time, all I had to do was heat it up.
Catie: Remain calm…. Baby seemed to sense the angst and it only made things worse. Often baby and I both needed a breather. My husband was deployed when my son went through the worst of it so handing him off wasn’t an option. I would set him down in a swing or bouncy chair with a toy, walk to another room and take 30 seconds minimum to breathe, drink some water, etc. If baby was happy, I took a break away from him since we were obviously over-stimulating each other. Then, back to nursing, rocking, wearing, walking, etc…. until we could both get a good nap!
Janina: Babywearing, smaller feedings, burp a lot, white noise, gripe water at the first sign of crying, rocking, and time.
Christina: Wearing and then walking – close to mom, plus amazing fresh air and rhythmic movements. Sometimes getting into a warm bath with my daughter helped, too.
Shelly: Lowering my expectations. Fussy babies meant nothing was getting done except baby care. Going for a walk helped clear my head and the change of scenery almost always calmed them down.
Kathryn: Bouncing on the exercise ball and the vacuum was a lifesaver.
Grace: Adjusting my diet (cutting out gluten and dairy because those were his colic culprits). Make the day less chaotic by staying home or no visitors, low lights, soothing music. Skin to skin. Take a warm bath with baby on my chest. Baby massage with some coconut oil and lavender oil. Colic Calm if it lasts more than an hour.
Turath: Our baby’s witching hour turned out to be a dairy sensitivity, so after I cut out dairy we haven’t had any problems. Definitely babywearing! This article has lots of great tips…. It’s sleep related, but I think many of the tips will work for calming a fussy baby. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/fussy-baby/31-ways-get-your-baby-sleep-and-stay-asleep
Rhianna: Try putting them to bed earlier. Once we instituted a 6pm bedtime, it was MUCH easier!
Kenyatta: Wear them! Familiarity (routine, music, lighting, smells) and calm.
Here are a few of my favorite articles:
As parents, we believe that our children are perfect. Yes, they can be little monsters every once in a while, but it is a tough pill to swallow when we find out that our child may have some challenges that need to be addressed.
My sweet little Ben was born after a long, arduous labor. We had our share of breastfeeding challenges in the beginning, but after 2 weeks we had mastered our latch and I was flowing with breastmilk. His massive amounts of spit-up were somewhat concerning to me, but he was gaining weight, so his pediatrician was not concerned. When Ben was 6 weeks old, I went to a local breastfeeding support group to find out why he was so fussy, gassy, and constantly puking. The lactation consultant recommended that I remove dairy from my diet, which I did haphazardly, to no avail (obviously!)