Top Tips To Wind a Colicky Baby
Top Tips to Wind a Colicky Baby
The early weeks of motherhood with a ‘colicky’ baby were some of the most testing times I have known thus far into my motherhood journey. I’m now 4.5 years into it and two kids down.
Feed, sleep, cry. We were stuck on that broken record for too many of the newborn weeks than I care to remember. I turned to positive thinking, hungry for the slightest signs of improvement and scribbling it down for posterity if I found it. I’m so glad I recorded the experiences – they serve as a regular reminder about what we’ve been through together and I now look at them and marvel at the inner strength that we don’t know about at the time but which emerges during those desperate times.
The reassuring news for any new (or old for that matter) mother currently going through the same difficult time is that it DOES come to an end. ‘This too shall pass’ was a piece of advice that I read again and again in the early hours of the night as I frantically googled to find some solution somewhere. It offered little help at the time but with the benefit of hindsight, I am now the one passing on the same advice – the irony is not lost on me. I clung onto the big developmental weeks, glued to the Wonder Weeks chart, awaiting some type of miraculous change.
And so my first piece of advice is don’t expect a sudden change. I waited on tenterhooks for it –feeling better that that particular week was a stormy one for any baby that many weeks old and ignoring the fact that our supposedly sunny days were still days of feed, sleep, cry on repeat. I focused on the 8 week mark. It came and went. I focused on the 12 week mark. It too came and went. No miraculous settling down, just very gradual changes as a result of a major dietary overhaul on my part and plenty of remedies to try in between.
I have a strong belief that the catch all term of ‘colic’ is in fact what we today know as a dairy intolerance. I might be wrong – I’m sure people will correct me if I am – but the symptoms are so similar. So many members of the older generation gave me sympathetic looks and recounted their own children who had suffered with colic. So one important tip if you have what people are referring to as a colicky baby – try cutting down/out dairy for at least two weeks and see if you can notice any difference.
I say this with experience. For Romilly, the cause of her extreme discontent ended up being a dairy intolerance. We were at the 8 week point when I took her– a gorgeous bundle but tarnished with an angry red scaly forehead – to our local Neal’s Yard and the amazing Alina told me to immediately give up dairy and sent us on our way with a special baby friendly cream for eczema. Within 24 hours of using the cream, her forehead had cleared. The dietary changes took much longer to master (milk is hidden in too many things!) and then leave my body but I shall document that journey elsewhere.
So a long story to explain how I became something of an expert in winding my ‘colicky’ baby who’s symptoms included constant feeding (comfort sucking probably), rock hard tummy spasms shortly after feeds, an inability to burp or pass wind very easily, regular wheezing, huge efforts to poo and then much relief after the explosion, a very uncomfortable and discontented baby from 3am onwards who, although she slept, wriggled and groaned pretty much constantly until morning.
We tried the full works – Infacol (we gave that to her until she was about 9 months old in the end. I’m not sure if it made a difference or not but I was too scared to take it away as it has a cumulative effect), gripe water (works for many but not us), Colief (made her more windy down below) plus a doctor’s prescription for I can’t even remember which medication.
In the end, persistence with a dairy-free diet and time were the two greatest healers. But you are probably reading this because you need advice for the short-term…
So here are my top tips for winding a colicky baby:
- In the daytime, she would be soothed with large bouncing movements, up and down gently but in the motion of throwing a football. At times, nothing else would work.
- A common tip but also in the day I would put her in a sling. She was happy when I was walking around but it also made the bouncing slightly easier as I had some support from the sling
- The winding sequence we used would look something like this:
A. Lay her flat on her tummy and jiggle my legs. This really soothed her and her cries would turn to contented gurgles (her tummy would be so swollen and full of air that I would often hear the milk swishing around her stomach)
B. I would then sit her up on my knee, supporting her chin with my other hand and rub up and down mostly on her lower back. This sequence of two would often get one burp out.
C. At this point I would run my finger gently up her spine from the bottom to the top. If she squirmed at any point, I came to understand that that meant that there was still trapped wind inside her tummy (this was a lifesaver tip for me, I think I read it somewhere so I feel a duty to pass it on!)
D. I would repeat steps A and B and C
E. If there was still trapped wind, which often there would be, I would support her tummy with one hand to help her sit up totally straight and rub her lower back whilst jiggling my legs. I felt that by straightening her tummy out, it gave a clear passage for the wind to pass out. This would often release more wind.
F. I would repeat these sequences for a few times. If she still squirmed as per point C after several sequences, I would put her up to my shoulder, hold her very close and snuggly to me and bend forwards and backwards in an exaggerated motion.
G. I didn’t do this often but a friend gave me a tip to sit the baby on a hard surface – like a table or pop a book on your knee and under their bottoms. This occasionally worked
4. This sequence was all about releasing burp wind. For bowel wind, I used to rub her tummy gently in a circular movement from left to right as she lay on her back. After that, I would do bicycle leg pumps which would occasionally release a fart
5. The tiger in the tree hold also occasionally worked for us but didn’t make it totally into my usual sequence as it wasn’t as foolproof as the others.
If you’re going through something similar to what I’ve documented, my heart goes out to you. I know how you are feeling and how it feels like it might never end. Hang in there, you’ve got this. I wrote myself little mantras/learnings at the time – unbeknownst to me then I’d be sharing them with others but this one is the most relevant: ‘Cherish the good times, write off the bad and take every day as it comes’. And this one might help too:
When she looks at me, locks eyes, her little face lighting up and her mouth breaking into a smile and her eyes dancing with laughter. You know you’re a team, nothing else matters and everything in the world is going to be okay.