Combating Colic

If having a new baby means sleepless nights coupled with seemingly unending screaming for hours on end, chances are high that your little one could be suffering from colic. And it’s safe to say that colic in babies can be a very distressing time for you and your little one. Looking after a newborn is hard enough, as you work hard to get to know them (and they you) and to decipher their cries so that you can meet their needs. But having your baby scream and cry for hours at a time can be very hard to deal with, and upsetting for all concerned too. Please rest assured that you are not alone, and that there are indeed natural remedies you can try to help your baby with colic.

How do you know it’s colic?

Colic usually occurs between the ages of around three weeks to three months of age, and usually takes place in the late afternoon, evening or at night. Classic symptoms of colic include baby being hard to comfort (when through the day you are able to easily comfort and settle them) and appearing to be in pain or discomfort. Of course, the continuous crying is often the most telling of symptoms, and the one that has most parents tearing their hair out in an attempt to soothe.

What causes colic?

There are theories that suggest colic is caused by air bubbles trapped in the baby’s immature digestive system, which cause baby pain and discomfort. Some doctors will recommend keeping baby upright after feeds and ensuring you wind baby thoroughly to try and relieve trapped wind. Some parents will tell you that very little seems to comfort them at all.

How can I tell if my baby has colic?

If any of the above has you nodding your head in grim recognition, then you may want to check the following symptoms too:
● excessive crying that usually starts at the same time every day
● crying begins when baby is a few weeks old and lasts for a few months
● baby is otherwise very healthy
● baby pulls their legs up to the chest, tightens abdomen muscles and clenches their fists. Babies face may also appear red and contorted in pain.

Be aware that while all babies cry- that’s how they communicate, after all- excessive crying is not usual and is worth investigating. If you are sure that baby is clean, warm, fed and rested but still crying a lot them there is a very good chance colic is to blame.

Colic can be a frightening time for new parents, particularly if you’re unable to soothe baby. Seeing your child in pain is not a pleasant experience, and feeling helpless can lead to frustration and upset. But it’s worth mentioning here that colic is not caused by you having done anything wrong. And it does help to talk to other parents who are going through similar- it’s estimated that colic affects nearly 25% of all babies in the UK, so you are not alone, even if it feels otherwise.

Natural remedies for Colic

Many parents will turn to medicine for help with colic, but there are natural ways that you can help your little one too. Here are some top tips and natural remedies to help ease the symptoms:

● Homeopathy. Such remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with very good reason too. They work. For colic, Magnesia Phosphorica (Mag Phos) is most commonly recommended because it has a soothing effect on cramps. One tablet dissolved in milk and given to baby straight after a feed can offer huge relief from pain and discomfort, and for babies that are breastfed mother can take two tablets three times a day (after meals) so ensure that the remedy is passed to baby through the milk.
● Diet. A mother’s breastfeeding diet is essential in helping to ease baby’s symptoms of colic, and is often the first thing we think of in such cases. Although there really isn’t a known list of foods that should be eliminated from the mother’s diet, there are some foods that are commonly known to aggravate colic and should therefore be avoided. These include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine and gluten. Spicy foods are also thought to be best avoided and some women swear that too many carbohydrates such as bread and pasta can also make baby a little more unsettled too. Drinking chamomile tea is a wonderful way to ease symptoms of colic, as it is passed through to baby through the milk and is known for its soothing properties.
● Herbal tea. Studies have found that herbal teas containing chamomile, fennel and lemon balm can significantly reduce symptoms of colic and it’s easy to make a similar version with chamomile and fennel yourself at home. Place half a teaspoon of the herbs in one cup on boiling water. Cover and steep for five to ten minutes, then strain. Once cool you can give baby a few teaspoons. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers can drink the tea and pass the benefits on to baby through the milk.
● Babywearing. Studies have long since shown that babies who are carried upright and close to a parent tend to cry less. Babywearing means carrying baby for long periods of time throughout the day, and it is this that reaps the benefits, rather than short periods of carrying baby to soothe them. Babywearing parents tend to carry their infants for several hours a day, before baby begins to cry and fuss. There is a theory that babies with colic display these symptoms due to disorganised biorhythms that were once regulated by the mother’s body during pregnancy. Once on the outside, these biorhythms are disrupted, but babywearing allows for a reconnection to occur. Babywearing helps to emulate conditions in the womb by providing warmth and security and many believe that it can be hugely beneficial for babies suffering with colic.
● Avoid over stimulation. Some babies cannot cope with too much going on around them and find that excessive noise, lights and action leads to feelings of being unable to relax and unwind. Make sure that you provide lots of calm space for your baby to feel secure and confident during the day, and at night.
● See a chiropractor. Many parents believe that misalignment suffered during labour and birth can cause symptoms of colic, and a chiropractor is able to help with this. Make sure that your chiropractor has worked with infants before, as adjustments should only be very slight. None the less, treatment can help to ease pain and discomfort and make colic less likely too.
● Baby massage. We are huge advocates of baby massage, and truly believe that this is one wonderful way that you can help baby yourself at home. Baby massage can help to keep the digestive system working well and there are no expensive requirements either. Baby aromatherapy. Colic can be treated quite effectively by blending aromatherapy with baby massage oil. Add one teaspoon of organic sunflower oil to one drop of dill essential oil. Blend together and warm in the palm of your hand before applying to baby’s tummy during massage. Dill is well known for its abilities to ease indigestion and gastric upsets.

Postnatal tips for dads

Throughout pregnancy and on into the postnatal period, much of the family focus is on mother and baby. And rightly so- being pregnant and giving birth is a huge experience for a woman to go through, and with the physical exertion of giving birth, not to mention the abundance of hormones, the early weeks and months with a new baby can be filed with an immense pressure for mums. But what about dad? Your partner is likely to have been there with you every step of the way, but too often his needs are not considered when a new baby comes along. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help support and guide new dads through this time. Please let us know in the comments if you have any more postnatal tips for dads.

Dads need nurturing too

After the mammoth event that is pregnancy and birth, everyone deserves a little TLC and dads are no different. Pregnancy can be strange for dads as they are not directly involved with the growing bump, plus the labour and birth process is very much woman centered too. So it’s normal for dads to feel a little like they need to do more in the early days. Again, this can be difficult if mum is breastfeeding. It’s also important to remember that while mum is recovering from it all, dad may need to do the same.

New research has found that 38% of dads are concerned about their own mental health, and there are calls now to increase support for new dads. It is normal to feel a little ‘let down’ after all the anticipation of pregnancy and birth. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help either. So how can we nurture dads a little more, and ensure that they are able to fully support mum and enjoy life with their newborn baby?

● Strive to find a new routine. This is something that dad can get stuck into once baby arrives, and it will help you both to feel a little more ‘on top’ of the chaos that a new baby brings. Sometimes it helps dads to feel a little more part of the proceedings if they are able to take on new roles within the family- maybe doing the grocery, preparing baby’s bath at the end of the day, or giving the occasional bottle? Find a new routine that allows dad to get hands on with baby so that he can begin the bonding process too.
● Prepare for the sleepless nights. Sleep deprivation really is hard, and it can play havoc with your emotions whether you’re chock full of postnatal hormones or not. And for dad, returning to work on very little sleep can be really hard. Especially when you are also striving to be there for mum and take on extra duties at home. So get prepared. Go to bed a little earlier, and clear the next few weekends so that you can have some quality time doing very little. Take it in turns to sleep in.
● Support your partner as much as you can. Remember that she has been through a lot, and having a new baby to care for too is going to take some getting used to. There are tasks that dad can take on such bathing, washing, shopping, taking care of the older kids etc. Doing this will help the household to run a lot more smoothly and will help mum to recover a lot more quickly too.

Open up to your partner

Lots of dads feel that they are not ‘supposed’ to talk about how they feel. This is normal. But relationships are two way streets, and it’s important to acknowledge dad’s s feelings too. Take the time to talk to each other about how you’re feeling, and the things you’d like help with. Find new ways to work together to be stronger and more united with baby. Your family is so different now, but that’s not to say you cannot enjoy the new challenges life is now bringing!

Be kind to each other

Take the time to regularly praise each other, and to appreciate what each of you brings to the family. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. And be kind to each other. Having a new baby is enormous, and not many of us come out the other side completely unscathed. But having a new baby is also one of the most amazing things you will do together, so cherish this time- and each other.

Cloth nappies for beginners

When you first embark upon cloth nappies for your little one, it can seem a little daunting. There are whole communities out there dedicated towards educating parents about the benefits of reusable nappies, and often the terminology and types of nappies available can make your head swim! But don’t panic- here are some quick tips to help you, and a brief guide on cloth nappies for beginners.

Why choose cloth nappies?

Each year in the UK around 8 million nappies are thrown into landfill. Every year! And the plastic in those disposable nappies is thought to take hundreds of years to decompose. So when you think of the impact that disposable nappies are having on the environment, it doesn’t take much to convince some parents that the switch to reusable is a good idea. And although cloth nappies will mean an extra load in the washing machine, the impact that this will have on the environment is nowhere near the same.

Alongside the affects on the environment, cloth nappies can have an impact on your family budget too. It’s been estimated that the average UK family will spend up to £800 on nappies per child- that’s quite a lot of money! Using cloth nappies could bring this expense down considerably. You can buy a cloth nappy for around £10-20 (an initial expense, granted) and that nappy will last for as long as your child is in nappies. If you have around 10 nappies in total, you’re looking at spending no more than around £200- a huge contrast to £800!

Another major reason why lots of parents choose to opt for cloth nappies is the fact that they don’t contain any nasty chemicals. Disposable nappies contain different chemicals so that they can be absorbent, and if you’ve ever seen a nappy split open you’ll see what we mean. Those little ‘crystals’ work to absorb urine and to keep it away from the skin, but they do mean that your baby’s precious skin could be at risk from irritation. Cloth nappies do not need such chemicals and therefore are deemed to be kinder to skin.

How to start

If you’ve made the decision to go for cloth nappies, here’s a quick checklist to help you get started:

Research the different types of nappies available.

Not all cloth nappies are the same and everyone has their own preferences too. The types of nappies available are:

• All in ones – these are the closest you will get to a disposable nappy as the whole thing is sewn together in one piece.
• All in twos – are very similar to disposable too, and have lots in common with all in ones – the only difference is that they have inserts that snap in or lay in the nappy.
• Fitted/shaped nappies are shaped like a disposable nappy but they are not waterproof so you need a cover over the top.
• Flat – nappies that are not shaped and need a cover to be waterproof.
• Hybrid – these nappies have a waterproof outer (wrap/cover) and inserts that are laid into it.
• Pocket – are a type of waterproof cover with a pocket in it. An absorbent insert fits into the pocket and then the nappy goes on all in one piece.

If you can access a nappy library or similar, see if you can have a play with some of the nappies there before you buy- see if you like the look, if they seem ok to use, and if they are within your price range too. Lots of nappy brands will offer trial kits and some sites allow you to borrow nappies and return them when you’ve had a trial- both handy services to take advantage of.

Check the sizing

Not all cloth nappies are the same size, and some are better for younger babies, some better for older babies. Some nappies are one size, which means you can use them from newborn and adjust the sizing as on the nappy as your baby grows. These are the best value for money but they might not be right for your baby. Research as much as you can and read as many reviews as you can too. Each nappy type will have a range of sizes available so you might want to stock up on your favourite too.

Washing

It’s often the washing that puts parents off cloth nappies, but there really is no need! These days cloth nappies don’t need to be soaked before you wash them, so if you have a nappy bin with a lid you can store dirty nappies in there until it’s time to wash. You need to wash the nappies on a hot wash (around 60 degrees) and there is no need to use a specific nappy detergent, unless you want to. If using normal washing detergent, make sure to use just a quarter of the usual amount and no fabric conditioner. It’s a good idea to end each cycle with an extra rinse too.

If you have enough nappies, you will only be washing them once a week, so make sure you have somewhere to store them in between washes. Let them dry on the line or on an airer in the house- they should only take a few hours.