How to Breastfeed a Colicky Baby

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How to Breastfeed a Colicky Baby

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It’s easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed if your baby cries uncontrollably.

These frequent crying episodes are known as colic.

Fortunately, colicky babies are healthy; they just need extra comforting before they outgrow it.

There are also things you can do to make breastfeeding a colicky baby easier.

For example, let them nurse on demand and hold them frequently, even when they’re not feeding.

Your baby will feel comforted by knowing you’re around and by the sound of your voice.

Adjusting Your Breastfeeding Techniques

Feed your baby from one breast until the milk is gone.

If your baby pulls off the breast and starts fussing, don’t switch them to the other breast.

Instead, keep them on the same breast and compress your breast a little to encourage them to keep feeding.

The longer your baby nurses from the same breast, the more hindmilk they’ll get.

Hindmilk is the milk your baby gets after feeding for a few minutes.

It’s rich in calories and fat, so it helps your baby feel full.

Switch to the other breast if they're still hungry.

You should alternate which breasts you nurse from so they don’t become engorged or drop in milk supply.

Once your baby has completely finished feeding from one breast, you can offer the other.

If they only nurse from one breast during a session, start the next session with the opposite breast.

To help you remember which breast you fed from last, you can put a bracelet or hair tie around the wrist for that side.

Switch the bracelet or hair tie to your other wrist after you’ve breastfed your baby from the other side.

Try several breastfeeding positions to see what your baby prefers.

If you have overactive letdown and the milk comes out too quickly or forcefully for your baby, you can lie down on your side and lay your baby parallel to breastfeed.

Your baby may also like it if you’re laying flat on your back with them tummy-side down on top of you since this can slow the milk as it flows into their mouth.

If your baby is bothered by overactive letdown instead of colic, they’ll usually start nursing just fine, but will begin to cough after a few seconds or a minute.

Your baby might continue to struggle while nursing because the milk comes out too forcefully.

Play around with positions until you can tell what your baby likes.

For example, your baby might prefer to be held across your body or tucked against your side as they nurse.

Feed your baby as soon as you notice their hunger cues.

If you wait until your baby is ravenous, they’re already agitated and will be more likely to swallow air as they feed.

This can make them gassy and uncomfortable.

Instead, you should frequently give your baby the chance to breastfeed so they don’t become irritated.

Most 1 to 2-month-old babies need to breastfeed 7 to 9 times a day.

As your baby gets older, they’ll start consolidating some of these nursing sessions so you can go several hours between feedings.

If you’ve waited until your baby is really hungry, they’ll start whimpering, sucking, squirming, or rooting.

Allow your baby to comfort feed.

Try not to schedule feeds for your colicky baby since they may want to nurse just to be close to you.

Don’t worry if you recently fed the baby and they want to breastfeed again.

The best thing you can do for your baby, in this case, is to cuddle them and keep them close so they feel comforted.

Keep in mind that your baby might be breastfeeding a lot to build up your milk supply, especially if they’re going through a growth spurt.

Burp your baby frequently during and after feeding.

Colicky babies tend to swallow a lot of air as they nurse, so it’s important to burp them once or twice during feeding and then after they’ve finished nursing.

Remember that you don’t have to be forceful as you pat your baby’s back.

Instead, pat gently to release air trapped in their tummy.

For a basic burping position, try holding the baby’s tummy up against your shoulder and pat their back.

You could also try laying your baby tummy-down across your legs while you support their head and pat their back.

Soothing Your Colicky Baby

Hold or wear your baby as much as possible.

Colicky babies love to be held and comforted so try to keep your baby close to you.

They also like feeling snug, so consider swaddling the baby before you hold them.

This is a great trick to try if your baby is waving their arms around as they cry.

Some colicky babies like being held with their tummy resting on your forearm.

Use the palm of your hand to support their head and let their legs and arms hang on either side of your arm.

Swing or bounce your baby to calm them.

Movement can relax some colicky babies because it’s similar to the gentle motion of being in the uterus before birth.

Walk around your house while you slowly sway and swing the baby in your arms.

You could also sit and rock with the baby or bounce them gently on your knee.

If you’d like to get out of the house and move around, put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk.

Since young babies with colic usually aren’t old enough to hold up their own heads, avoid putting them into bouncers.

Never shake your baby to try to quiet them.

Talk or sing to your baby in a soothing voice.

Your baby might relax or calm down when they hear you so speak to your baby in a soft voice.

You can sing gentle lullabies or just talk to your baby about whatever you’re doing.

Try to be a calm presence around your baby.

They’ll sense your peaceful attitude and may feel reassured.

Offer your baby a pacifier.

Some babies like to suck their fingers while others prefer sucking on a pacifier.

Buy a pacifier according to your baby’s age to ensure the nipple isn’t too large for your baby’s mouth.

Put the pacifier in their mouth and hold it there for a few seconds.

If your baby likes it, they’ll begin to suck on it, but they may spit it out if they don’t want it.

A small baby might have a hard time keeping a pacifier in their mouth, so you may need to pop it back in occasionally.

Give your baby a warm bath in the evening.

If you’re trying to calm your colicky baby before putting them to sleep, help them relax.

Put your baby into a baby bathtub with warm water and gently sponge them with the water to help them settle.

You can also use lavender scented soap or lotion since some babies find this smell calming.

You can also fill a water bottle with warm water and place it on your baby’s tummy.

This can make them feel comfortable if they are gassy or have tummy trouble.

Getting Help

Pay attention to how long your baby cries to determine if it’s colic.

Although there’s no scientific way to diagnose colic, most doctors agree that a baby that cries for at least 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week and for at least 3 weeks is colicky.

If you suspect your baby has colic, they probably do, so don’t hesitate to get some help.

Keep in mind that colic usually peaks when the baby is 6 to 8 weeks old.

Talk with your doctor about starting an elimination diet.

If you suspect that something you’re eating is affecting your baby, ask your doctor’s advice about eliminating specific foods from your diet.

The doctor might tell you to cut out the food for at least 2 weeks in order to see if the food was irritating your baby.

Common foods to eliminate include:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts

Get medical attention if your baby has a fever, bloody stools, or vomits.

Most colicky babies simply cry, but if your baby is also vomiting, passing bloody stools, or has a fever of at least 100.4 °F (38.0 °C), you should get emergency medical attention since another condition could be bothering your baby.

If you can’t reach your doctor, you may want to take your baby to urgent care or the emergency room, especially if the baby is less than 8 weeks old.

Talk with the doctor about other conditions that can mimic colic.

Keep in mind that other medical conditions could be making your baby uncomfortable which is why they’re crying a lot.

Ask your doctor to rule out:

  • Ear infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER)
  • Food allergies
  • Hernia
  • Intestinal obstruction

Ask family or friends for extra support.

It’s not easy to care for a colicky baby, so ask your support network for some help.

A friend might be able to sit with the baby while you get some rest or you can ask your partner to hold the baby while you shower or go for a walk.

Remember that in order to care for your baby, you need to care for yourself.

Try to locate a lactation consultant or breastfeeding support group in your area.

These are great resources that can offer you personalized help and advice.

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ismael

ismael

2 thoughts on “How to Breastfeed a Colicky Baby”

  1. Hello, you used to write great, but the last several posts have been kinda boring?K I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

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