Baby Colic is one of the most common ailments found in young children, especially infants. Though the exact causes of colic are not known medically, but it is usually caused by gastric problems. Colic leads to a build up of gas in the baby’s stomach, and so the stomach becomes swollen and distended.
A colicky baby is known to cry profusely because of the pain that he/she experiences. This seemingly endless crying often leads to panic among parents as they are left clueless about how to help their children. If you are one of these parents then relax! Don’t blame yourself for your baby’s discomfort as colic is fairly common and is not caused by something you did or did not do. Having said that, you can still try and help your colicky baby in a number of ways. This will ease not only his pain but it will also make you feel better as you will know that you are trying your best.
Baby massage is one of the most effective ways to help with baby colic. Proper massage relaxes your baby’s muscles and thus, eases any possible spasms or contractions in the stomach. This will also allow the baby to pass the wind that was may have been causing the problem in the first place.
During a non colic crying episode try some simple massage moves. Firstly, make sure that there is a gap of at least half an hour between the baby’s last feed and the massage. Then, either place your baby in your lap or on a cushion or towel- whatever is more comfortable for you and the baby.
Closely observe your baby’s reaction to your hands’ movement. Repeat the strokes that he seems to enjoy more. Massaging techniques can differ for babies depending on what suits them more.
For the calm times… Massage using natural oil and make sure you are relaxed, baby hasn’t just been fed and you have a bit of time, and you are both fairly relaxed. I would recommend doing a full 20 min routine here but 5-10mins is fine for colic relief – just concentrate on the following… Massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction using your flat palm, following a circle around the belly button. Then use fingertips in small circles following the same trail, then back to the flat hand. Hand over hand, do gentle scoops from under the ribcage down across the ribcage (not too much pressure inwards) Finish with more flat handed circles. Hold each leg and ‘bicycle’ one leg and then the other up towards the abdomen, then stretching the leg down to it’s full length – this both compresses and expands the abdomen. Do this 10 or so times. Then take both feet and gently stretch the legs together up towards the head, and back down again – again for 10 or so times (as long as baby is happy) Do some more bicycling to finish. Stretch the legs down using gentle pressure in a frog shape, and give them a little ‘wobble’ – great to dislodge that last bit of stubborn wind! Massage both feet one at a time, all over the tops, around the ankle and using the thumbs stroke firmly up underneath the sole of the foot. Gentle press into the centre of the sole of the foot – this is the solar plexus point and can help with calming (one in the centre of the palm too for when you are out and about with a screaming baby) and pay attention to the centre area – this relates to the digestive system.
During crying episodes it may help to lay your baby across the length of your arms, either facing towards the elbow or your hand depending on the size. This puts pressure and warmth onto the abdomen and can help to expel trapped wind. As suggesting gentle rocking and shushing can help but this can be hard on your back. Laying warm hands on the abdomen may ease the pain and bicycles may help (but aren’t as much fun during crying episodes as in the normal routine – but this is OK) and of course don’t forget to take some time out when you can – it is perfectly OK to leave your baby with someone you trust and get out of the house for five minutes – even (maybe especially) during the colicky times. Infacol can help but you must remember to use it every feed as it has a cumulative effect. Dr Browns also have great reports. Try and use the gentlest formula you can but avoid switching too often as this can cause upset too. I have a DVD out which explains and shows both my full ‘Massage for Happy Babies‘ routine and incorporates ‘No Cry Baby – tips for calming colic and wind’ which might be of use if you can’t get to a baby massage class. They can be downloaded instantly to your computer so you can get started in a few clicks of the mouse! I am available on email at all times for help and support as you apply the techniques.
So, the next time your baby experiences discomfort due to colic, take a deep breath. Now that you have begun to learn the art of baby massage, you have the tools to help!