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Colic can be a frustrating condition for parents that means long days and sleepless nights with a child you just can’t seem to comfort. But what is colic? And how can you get some relief?

When your child cries, usually a dirty diaper or a grumbling tummy are to blame. Colic, on the other hand, is classified as a set period, often at the same time each day, when a healthy baby cannot be calmed down. The child typically screams and cries for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Most often, the crying begins in the afternoon or evening and has a high-pitched sound. The baby may also tense up his or her limbs or abdomen and gas and/or a bowel movement may happen at the end of the episode.

Your child is considered to have colic if these fits occur three days a week for at least three weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Colic can last for months, but generally isn’t a long-term issue — most babies have moved on from colic by the age of five months. That doesn’t mean it makes the early days of parenthood any easier.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of colic isn’t known. Since babies change and develop so quickly, it could be any number of things. Keeping notes of when the episodes begin, how long they last, what you tried and what you were doing before the crying began can help. But there are some remedies to try when your baby is colicky that may help:

  1. Probiotics — To keep their digestive system regulated and prevent symptoms like gas, consider an infant probiotic, which provides “good” bacteria to balance the gut.
  2. Anti-gas Medication — If you feel your baby might be gassy, trying an infant gas formula may provide some relief. There are even some rather unusual, but effective devices out there for dealing with windy babies.
  3. Proper Feeding Posture — Keep your baby as upright as you’re able while feeding and be sure to burp them throughout, not just after the bottle is empty.
  4. White Noise — Bring out your appliances like the vacuum or run the clothes dryer. You can even buy special baby white noise machines, which some people swear by.
  5. Movement — Whether you put them in the stroller or the car, taking your child out and allowing them to feel the gentle vibration may help.
  6. Massage — Gently massaging your baby may calm them by boosting circulation and keeping their digestive system moving. Look for baby massage classes in your area. They are great for giving you the confidence to massage your baby without fear of doing any damage.
  7. Swaddling — The soothing pressure and warmth of being swaddled can help. A warming pad or bottle on their abdomen could also bring relief.
  8. Bath — A warm bath using a comforting baby wash scented with lavender oil can help your baby relax.

Be sure to get in touch with your child’s doctor if you notice any changes in their sleeping and eating patterns or if their skin changes to a more bluish or gray tint during the colic episodes. Just remember to step back, take a deep breath and get your rest when you can.

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