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Coping with a Colicky Baby - Expert Tips from Colic Specialist My Schramm

Coping with a Colicky Baby - Expert Tips from Colic Specialist My Svensson Schramm

The first days of having a baby are often portrayed as a peaceful baby bubble. For some, this is far from reality; instead, the bubble is lined with inconsolable and persistent cries, sleepless nights, feelings of inadequacy, and an extra layer of strain on the relationship between parents. 

Colic is something that affects many babies. One of the symptoms is that the baby cries more or less constantly. Najell had the opportunity to interview My Svensson Schramm, a licensed midwife, certified colic therapist and specialized breastfeeding counselor.

My Svensson Schramm - Colic Therapist at MyBaby

My tells us that her heart has always been with our newborn babies.

"My own belief is that it is tough for a child to be born into this world. From being cocooned, warm, hearing mom's heartbeat and being rocked to sleep to coming out into a world of fluorescent lights. It's cold, I'm exposed, I'm suddenly supposed to be wearing clothes and breathing on my own. It must be, in my eyes, very traumatic for the child. I'm really passionate about educating parents and staff on how to make this transition as smooth as possible for the baby." 

For many parents, it is a nightmare when their child cries inconsolably for several hours every day. It's easy to feel like you're doing something wrong as a parent. But how do you know if it's colic? 

Symptoms of colic   

My says that she usually relies on the 3-3-3 rule when it comes to diagnosing infant colic.   

"This means that if the baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks, it may indicate that it is colic. The important thing to establish first is, of course, that the baby is otherwise healthy." 

Infant colic can start as early as two weeks of age, up to about five months, with a peak around three months. In addition to the inconsolable crying, common symptoms of a colicky baby are that the stomach is often tense and bloated, so the baby tends to press their legs against their stomach. 

"Feeding is often a concern as the child is easily distressed afterwards. The child may also have difficulty pooping and is generally a bit more of an anxious character. They are simply often unhappy and difficult to comfort," My continues. 

What causes colic?

In general, there is little research in this area, according to My, but there are some possible causes.

"The most well-known cause of colic are immature intestines, which means that the intestinal functions work against each other, leading to chaos in the tummy, which in turn leads to pain and so-called colic attacks." 

My also explains that the risk of colic can increase if a parent or sibling has had colic. Stress & anxiety levels during pregnancy or childbirth as well as nicotine intake and certain medications during childbirth can also have an impact. There is also debate about whether mothers should avoid certain foods to prevent colic in their babies, but My says there is no scientific evidence for this.   

"There is no scientific evidence that the mother should exclude one or the other. But it can always be worth trying to exclude gas-forming foods such as carbs, cabbage, onions, beans, etc." 

What can help? 

A child with colic is often very sensitive to being touched, sounds, noisy environments and visuals. My therefore emphasizes that peace and quiet are important. A good tip, according to her, is to use a baby wrap. 

"In a baby wrap the baby is close to the parent, hears the heartbeat and it feels a bit like it did in the womb. It gives the baby a sense of security." 

In a baby wrap, the baby's legs are in a so-called frog position, which also helps the tummy, and the parent can walk around with both hands free. Studies have shown that baby wearing also strengthens the bond with the baby, while giving parents freedom in their daily lives. It's also good for giving parents some peace and quiet.

"Because the baby is sitting securely in the wrap, the parent has both hands free, and the back is supported in a completely different way than if you walk and carry the baby. If the baby has difficulty breastfeeding/eating, you can try breastfeeding/bottle feeding in the wrap. Use earplugs when the baby cries so that you can get through it. Maybe listen to calm music or a good audio book."  My continues.

Read more: Five reasons to carry in a baby wrap

Other tips My gives are "white noise", warmth and baths, and trying to hold the baby in different positions.  

"There are actually specific ways you can try to carry your baby, including putting the baby up against your shoulder and pushing your feet and legs up against the baby's tummy. Other positions include the 'king's chair', the 'bicycle with legs' and the 'tiger in the tree'. What they all have in common is bringing the baby's legs closer to the tummy." 

“You are good enough” 

Last but not least, My emphasizes that having a child with colic is extremely tough. The feeling of powerlessness that many parents feel is hard to describe.

"You feel emotions that you might not have thought you could feel. It can be difficult to connect with your child. Conflicts can arise between parents. Fatigue is persistent, as are feelings of inadequacy and worry. All these feelings are okay!" 

Her advice to parents experiencing this is to remember that "you are good enough", that all parents do their best, and to be brave enough to ask for help, most people will help without blinking if they are just asked.

"The most important thing is to ask for help and, above all, to communicate!” My continues. “Dare to talk about what is difficult, dare to ask family, friends and neighbors for help. Most people will help without blinking if they are just asked. There is also help available from experts. We are all here to help you and your baby!"   

Najell Wrap - A Pre-tied Baby Wrap