Newborn photo by Rachel Yearick at rachelyearick.com
Becoming a mom is hard, and most of us probably don't feel prepared when it happens. One day, the only person we have to worry about keeping alive is ourselves. The next day we're holding an infant in our arms, suddenly aware that this little baby depends on us for survival. It's terrifying!
I pray for your sake that the journey is an easy one, but if you're like me, you maybe ended up with a baby that cries a lot or has colic.
My firstborn and thirdborn both cried a ton during their first few months of life. This led me to find a cure for their crying, and to figure out a way to soothe my girls.
When my firstborn came along, I didn't know what I was doing. I thought maybe I just had a cranky baby. But somewhere deep down, I knew that if my baby was crying and seemed uncomfortable, that probably meant that she was uncomfortable and I searched for a way to ease her little body.
Read more about my firstborn birth story here!
All Babies Have Gas
The one thing to remember is that all babies have gas. Their little body is figuring out how to work outside the womb, and it's our job as parents to help their bodies figure it out. If your baby isn't truly colicky, you'll be able to fix most of their gas issues with a few simple tricks!
Bicycle their legs!
This trick is exactly as it sounds, move their legs in a bicycle motion, and then kick them in and out. Doing this for a few minutes will move gas bubbles in their stomach and help their bodies have a bowel movement.
Massage their bellies in a clockwise circle
My physical therapist taught me this one to use on myself. It works great with babies too!
Take your fingers and gently massage their belly in a clockwise circle, moving from just below their sternum all the way around their belly and back up. This pattern follows the motion of food as it moves from the stomach, to the intestines and bowels. By massaging your baby's belly, it will help their body move milk through their system!
Get Gas Relief & Gripe Water
If all else fails, getting gripe water and gas relief will help as well! We used this brand for all three of our kids when they really struggled with bowel movements or were extra fussy. It made a difference for their little bodies.
While all of these methods will help a regular fussy infant, it won't help the infant that is truly suffering from colic like both of my girls did. Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, these tips will hopefully get you on the right track to a happier baby!
1. Change Your Diet
This will only work if you're breastfeeding or pumping to produce milk for your little one. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I had to cut out dairy and gluten. Every time I ate either one, I would get so sick that I immediately regretted it.
After Skylar was born, I went back to eating whatever I wanted. Once she was out, my body was no longer affected in the same way by what I ate! But I quickly realized that my daughter would be super fussy and uncomfortable after she ate- and so I cut out dairy and gluten again.
Because I was so sick during pregnancy when I ate gluten and dairy, it was easy to conclude that maybe she was upset with those foods and couldn't digest them well.
If your baby cries a lot after eating, balls their fists and is clearly upset, then consider cutting out dairy first, and then gluten. Both of those are hard for little stomachs to process. Try process of elimination with the foods in your diet until you figure out which foods are unsettling for your baby.
I know some babies have a really hard time when their mama eats garlic or onions. Each baby is unique in how their bodies handle foods. So, pay attention to what you ate on the days they are the fussiest. The more you're paying attention, the more likely it is that you will notice a pattern between the days they cry more often and specific foods you ate! Eliminating those troublesome foods will be a bummer while you're breastfeeding, but worth it to have a happy baby.
2. Take Time To Burp Your Baby
This seems obvious, I know! But the days when I took time, really took time and burped my babies for 15+ minutes after they ate, they were usually happier and slept longer stretches during the day and night! It was as simple for me as laying down at an incline and propping my baby on my chest.
There are a bunch of burping videos on YouTube, and each baby responds to different positions. I found for my twins that inclining their chest across my breast tissue would put enough pressure in the right spot to release gas bubbles.
For our firstborn, I would stand up and burp her as I walked around the house. Each kid prefers a unique method! Find one that works for you and your baby and spend time after every feeding to get those bubbles out. I realize that spending 20 minutes burping can feel like a time-suck, but enjoy the cuddles and remember this too shall pass.
3. Prop Your Baby On An Incline To Sleep
Obviously safe sleep for infants is of the utmost importance here, but we were able to safely incline our babies while they slept. Sleeping at an incline for babies helps their bodies move gas bubbles out of their bellies.
When our twins were in the NICU, their little beds were elevated at an incline to help their bodies move gas more effectively. When they came home, we mimicked the same position for our twins to sleep by inclining one end of their bassinets. It made a big difference for our twins! And I wish I would have known this trick when we had our first baby, because she would have benefited from the inclined sleeping position.
There are a lot of rockers and sleepers that have built-in incline to give your baby the correct sleeping position. It worked for us! I pray it works for you as well.
4. Let Them Swing During Naptime
Neither my oldest or middle child liked the swing during naptimes, but my youngest took to it like a duck in water. She loved the soothing motion, and it calmed her belly when she was upset during the first few months of life.
Our Evie struggled with gas and colic before she left the hospital. The NICU nurses did an x-ray to see why she was struggling so much, and all it revealed was hundreds of little gas bubbles in her belly. You can imagine how that made me feel!
I did everything I could think of to help solve her little belly aches, including searching for the perfect bottles and formula to give her some relief. I kept a strict diet which made a difference, but letting her take naps in the swing during the day really helped as well.
When baby's not sleeping, nobody is relaxed! So, however you get your baby to nap, whether it's a bouncer or swing, do it! They'll be happier, and you'll be happier.
5. Switch Your Baby's Formula
This only applies if you have a formula-fed baby! Our twins had a combo of breastmilk and formula for their bottles. I pumped to give them breastmilk, but I also had to substitute with formula.
My boy/girl twins both struggled on the formula that the NICU gave them, so we hunted for something easier on their tummies. We tried several different kinds for both of them before finding one they each liked. Our son liked Happy Baby Organics Sensitive and our daughter only liked HIPP Organic Dutch Formula from My Organic Company.
Don't be afraid to try different kinds until you find something your baby likes. I realize it's time-consuming and expensive to do this, so pray that the Lord leads you with wisdom to a formula that will work for your baby right away. Take time to discern what He's telling you about your baby, because in the end, it's well worth it.
6. Find a Good Bottle
Skylar never took a bottle, so I didn't realize the impact that bottles have on feeding. Our twins never took to breastfeeding, so finding bottles that helped with colic and gas was vitally important!
We tried several different bottle types before finding one that helped ease their discomfort. The MAM bottles were by far the choice for our family. I recommend them if you're struggling with colic because they're intentionally designed to relieve colic and gas in newborns.
These bottles come in all different sizes and colors, and I recommend starting off with the 0+ nipple and slowly moving up to 1+ and 2+ as your baby grows.
Looking for the perfect baby items? My favorite things for newborn twins might have what you need!
7. Pray For Wisdom
The Lord is near to do those who call on Him for help. I have noticed that God is especially close to women and He cares for our needs when we seek His face. If you're struggling with a fussy baby, call on God and ask for His guidance! And then be alert to the answers He provides.
Sometimes God's answers aren't always obvious like we want it to be. Most often, it comes in a gentle whisper like in the story of Elijah.
It might be that a mom friend in passing shares a tidbit with you that solved her baby's fussiness; or maybe you stumble on an article that provides you with unique ideas you hadn't tried; or maybe your pediatrician suggests a different technique. Whatever it is, those are all God-whispers when we seek His face for answers. So pray for discernment, and then open your eyes to see how He will respond to your need!
We're all trying to figure out this parenting thing. The only magic formula for being the best parent you can be is to put Jesus in the center of your parenting. He's the only one with all the answers and wisdom you need to be the best mom.
We're all taking it one day at a time, trying to raise good children to become stable, healthy adults. If your baby is struggling with colic today, pray for wisdom and search for the right answers. God will lead you and He entrusted this baby to you. You've got this mama!
With Joy, Jessica
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